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My mom doesn’t want me to get the Covid-19 vaccine.  But I already did.

I’m 18 and starting college next month which will make me the first person in my family to go. I am more than excited! I worked very hard to get in and cover my expenses. Recently, I was informed by the health services that I had to present proof of my vaccination against Covid-19 to register. The problem: My mom has read conspiracy theories online and is convinced that the vaccine is not necessary and that it will “change my DNA” whatever that means. She refuses to let me have her. Spoiler: I got vaccinated in secret months ago! (And I wish she would, too.) How should I take care of my mother and school?


There are times, unfortunately, when we have to take care of ourselves at the expense of those we love. This is one of them! Hope you tried to convince your mother (with data) that the available vaccines have been tested rigorously and found to be safe by scientists knowledgeable to make this call. Another powerful argument is that unvaccinated people account for the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths from Covid.

However, you are unlikely to convince her if her mind is closed to reason. If your mom is contributing to your education costs, which you say you took care of covering, or if you plan to continue living at home, keep taking action. You cannot cancel your vaccination, and the consequences of your mother’s reaction can derail your education.

Bring proof of your vaccination to the college when registering. If necessary, call health services ahead of time to explain your situation. If your mother asks you to, tell her that the school has granted you an exemption. I’m sorry that your success is overshadowed by your mother’s misinformation. Let me get back to you if you need help, okay?

My daughter’s bat mitzvah is coming this fall. As I discussed our plans for the gathering with family and friends, I learned that a few will not be able to attend. Some have Covid-related travel issues; others have conflicting commitments. I don’t think I should send invitations to these people. Why make them refuse, formally, a second time? I also think that the invitations to these people would look like gifts to grab. Several family members differ. You?


I agree with you – for the most part. Sending invitations to people who have already told you they weren’t available seems redundant and possibly guilty. Plans (and comfort levels) may change, however.

Here is what I suggest: Instead of invitations, send short notes to people who have told you they can’t come, letting them know that they will be missed and asking them to let you know if they are. eventually become available. Don’t waste time worrying about freebies – freebies are always optional.

My sister passed away recently – far too young! It fell to me to walk through his little house and his attic. Fortunately, it was well organized. She had created a list of recipients of various articles. But I came across a few boxes that baffled me. One was filled with photos of her with a childhood friend she had quarreled with. The other was a cache of fairly recent love letters from a man whose name and address appear on the envelopes. Unlike her other possessions, she did not provide any instruction for these things. The family historian in me hates throwing them away. What would you do?


I am sorry for your loss (and I admire your conscience). When it comes to distributing the personal effects of others, I subscribe to the “do no harm” doctrine. It is difficult to imagine that childhood photographs would cause difficulties for your sister’s friend. They can even heal for it. Send them!

Be more careful, however, about love letters. If your sister had wanted them to come back, it seems she would have said so. Her lover may have been married or unavailable during their correspondence. He may still be! If you are inclined to return the letters, first try contacting the man by phone to ask if he wants them back.

A friend has been eating gluten free for years. She doesn’t have celiac disease, but she feels better without gluten in her diet. I always welcome her when I organize a meal or an event. But when I’m not the host – and feel like bringing a batch of fancy cupcakes as a hostess gift, for example – she gets noticeably annoyed when she learns that my gifts aren’t gluten-free. What are my obligations to her when I am not the host?


As a guest, you are obviously not responsible for the dietary restrictions of other guests. And the “visible discomfort” seems to be a strong reaction to a hostess gift for someone else. Yet, if you read your friend correctly, wouldn’t it be better to ease her hurt feelings than to explain your obligations to her?

Say, “I thought the cupcakes were cute. But they didn’t have a gluten-free option. Sorry! ”It costs you next to nothing. And it’s good to be a sensitive friend.

For help with your tough situation, send a question to, Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.

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