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home : columns : dear harriette February 19, 2020

12/21/2019 1:17:00 PM
Reader wants to disappear for the holidays

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am going on vacation at Christmastime this year. I usually go to visit my family, but my mother passed away a few months ago, and there is no family home to visit. I feel a bit lost right now, given that both of my parents are gone, which is why I scheduled this trip. It's a cruise, and I'm going by myself. I am an only child, and I don't have close friends. My co-workers told me that I am running away. They think I should stay in town and hang out with them. While that is very nice of them to offer, we are not that close. I think going to warm weather will make me happier. I can't bear to be in my hometown, missing my mom. Do you think I'm making a mistake? -- Solo Trip

DEAR SOLO TRIP: First, my sincere condolences on the passing of your mother. I have witnessed many of my friends lose their mothers, and it is often devastating. It takes time to heal from that tremendous void in your life.

I think it's fine for you to go on a cruise. You will be in a place with a built-in community of people and endless activities. Plus, you will likely be able to deboard and visit new ports of call. Just remember to be mindful of your surroundings in the same way you always should be when you are by yourself in a new locale. Keep your eyes open to see if you meet anyone who may become a friend during your trip. This is a perfect opportunity to strike up a rapport with other people who are on the cruise.

Beyond your trip, though, you need to come to terms with your new season of life -- one without your parents. It may help you to get grief counseling. You can find that through your house of worship, your insurance company, even a funeral home. You deserve to have whatever support you need to tend to your healing heart. Make sure you get it.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm going to visit my boyfriend's family in the Dominican Republic for the first time. He comes from a huge family. I want to impress them and also include everyone. I want to bring gifts, but I have no idea what to bring that I can share with more than 20 people. My boyfriend says I should just go. They can't wait to meet me, but I want to do something special for them. Oh -- I am on a budget. -- The Right Gift

DEAR THE RIGHT GIFT: Why not make gifts for them? You can bake holiday cookies that you decorate, and store them in tins. Dry goods are allowed to go through customs, and cookies go far. If you are not a baker, you can cheat and buy cookies or other sweets that you can share with everyone. Get a count of family members, and consult your boyfriend about what types of sweets his family would appreciate most.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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