DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother has a small group of friends she has been close to since she was a child. She is now in her late 80s.
They used to get together frequently and talk on the phone a lot. They are still alive and going about their days, but mostly they don't talk to each other anymore. I think this is because they are all dealing with ailments, as well as the reality that they aren't driving and can't get around to see each other.
I want to change that and arrange for them to get together a few times a year. I don't have a lot of money to pull that off, though, so I'm not sure how to do it. Any ideas? -- Keep the Flame Alive, Milwaukee
DEAR KEEP THE FLAME ALIVE: If any other children of your mother's friend group are living, reach out to them to see if they will support you in this great effort. Perhaps the adult children can help to arrange calls between the friends periodically.
You also can host small dinners at your homes where you arrange to transport the various friends to whoever's home is host for that day. A little coordination can go a long way. Even if the meal occurs at your mother's home or another friend's, you and the other adult children, or even grandchildren, can do the cooking and cleaning to make it easy on them.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel so lucky we were able to get my son into a private school that offers all the courses that interest him. This is a blessing, considering my husband and I cannot afford to pay the hefty tuition. We received a scholarship that allows my son to attend.
What has become difficult is many of the kids have a lot more money and things than my son. That is to be expected, but practically speaking, it is hard to manage. I don't want my son to feel "less than," but am unsure what to do to support my son and manage his expectations. -- Looking In, Washington
DEAR LOOKING IN: Your son is getting to see how wealthy people live. Consider that a good thing. The more he learns about the dynamics of the world, the better off he will be. Will he lust for things he doesn't have? Probably. But that's part of our commercial culture, isn't it?
What you must do is remind him of your family values and teach him it's OK he doesn't have all the things that some of his friends do. What he is getting is a top-notch education. This includes access to see what money can and cannot bring you.
Suggest that he observe everything happening in his world. He will discover what types of jobs afford certain luxuries, the value of connections and relationships, the priceless value of honesty and respect, and the downside of excess. Encourage him to choose friends who share his beliefs, regardless of how much money or how many things they have.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)