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Dear Abby: Expecting worst when parents meet

Dear Abby: I have been with “Tom” for two years, and I suspect that he will be proposing soon. He is 27, and I’m 24. Here’s the problem: He wants our parents to meet before he asks.

Abby, I have put this off because I’m sure they will have nothing in common. My parents are small-business owners and conservative. His parents are pot-smoking swingers – literally.

How do I prepare my parents (and myself) for what I expect to be a tense and uncomfortable meeting?

– No Words on the West Coast

Dear No Words: I’m sure the one thing your parents will have in common is a desire for you and your boyfriend to be happy together. Building on that, you and Tom should talk with your folks and prepare them for the encounter. Trying to hide or minimize their differences would do no good because they will soon become obvious. Don’t waste your time or energy preparing “talking points” for Tom’s parents, because if they show up stoned, they probably wouldn’t be able to remember them.

Left out of family photos

Dear Abby: Three months ago, my sister “Diane” said she would like to get the family together for some professional photos. The photographer she chose was available only on one particular day. Unfortunately, my husband couldn’t get off from work that day.

Diane then suggested we take the pictures without him. I said that it was inappropriate and refused. When I asked if we could use a different photographer at another time, my sister told me to forget the whole thing. I recently visited my parents and saw the family photos – taken without me, my husband and our child. I’m angry and hurt. I’m especially upset at my mom, since she knew how bothered I was by the suggestion of excluding my husband. Am I justified in feeling this way?

– Out of the Picture in Houston

Dear Out of the Picture: Yes.

Expanding on a special day

Dear Abby:: Until my daughter was 18, we did all the traditional birthday celebrations. On her 18th birthday, she turned the tables by saying that although she was born on that day, I had done all the work of giving her life.

Now, at her request, we spend her special day celebrating each other. She takes me to dinner and buys me flowers, and I let her. And now on my special day, I do the same for my own mother.

This has become a tradition, and my grandchildren now follow it. The only gift necessary is the time we give to each other.

– Appreciated in Idaho

Dear Appreciated: I like your daughter’s idea very much; it makes perfect sense. What makes any holiday special is the time that people who care about each other spend together.