DEAR MISS LONEYHEARTS: So I'm reading this 22-year-old's letter to you and I'm thinking, "Well, Miss L. is going to let (the guy signed Atlas) have it and tell him to get his priorities straight," but no, you instead tell him how his stressed-out young fiancée can keep on working to get him through school when she's ill. He says "his biggest concern right now is our financial well-being." Well, his biggest concern should be the health of his girlfriend. I think that girl should run while she can. Where's his family -- and why should only her family help? Are there no student loans and other financial help available? What would he do if he didn't have a girlfriend helping financially? Find another? Maybe I don't have all the facts, but my first impression of his "problem" is it's really the girl's problem and she has just been tipped off where she rates on the Scale of Importance in this guy's life. Not many 22-year-olds have a doctor telling them to leave their job for health reasons. She should take care of herself. He loves her "but..." Pay attention to the "but." -- Just a Mom, Winnipeg
Dear Just a Mom: A 22-year-old young man should be permitted a few moments of panic. He signed his letter Atlas because he was feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders and fearing the end of his education/career. Like many people who write, he was in the heat of the moment. He clearly said he loved his girlfriend and was not going to leave her. He was scared, understandably. And he was not saying she needed money to support him! As for the girlfriend involved, why would you want to advise her to break up with the man who loves her, especially right now when she's reeling from the blow from her doctors? She was told to leave her job because it's a toxic environment, but not told to never work again. She may end up needing disability, but that's not a place you want to go if you can still have the enjoyment and stimulation of working. That's why I have sent her young Atlas words of encouragement, a reference to online guide work at about.com and a list of websites for people who have done well financially online.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I have advice for the ongoing argument about repairing the rift after a family has blown apart over Thanksgiving dinners. Family gatherings are important for two reasons. First, they bring people together and second, they build family. When people participate and bring a part of the meal, they are included in the whole process, and this of course makes them feel valued. All this has to happen without the host feeling overwhelmed. Delegate, accept donations graciously, and put bitter feelings aside. -- K., Winnipeg
Dear K.: Putting bitter feelings aside is something I recently learned about from an Icelandic friend who says his clan keeps grudges for years against members of the family because the bad thing was done and it can't be forgiven. But, here's where Icelanders differ from other backgrounds. He says they don't see long-standing grudges as any reason why they can't go for drinks and get together for dinners and still be close -- because they still LOVE each other. That's the real point, isn't it? And it's kind of brilliant in an odd sort of way. We don't have to resolve every fight to stay close and get together as extended families.
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