Dear Amy: Every year, my husband and I organize a vacation meeting for many of our friends and neighbors. We provide the main course, some side dishes and drinks. We ask friends to complement with other salads, side dishes and desserts.
This year, my friend "Barb" contacted me by texting shortly saying, "This year I will need you to prepare my food differently" – because of her recent diagnosis of celiac disease .
She explained that "even a small amount of cross-contamination" would cause her discomfort. She asked me to check all my spices and all my ingredients and to clean all my kitchen and serving utensils before preparing meals for her.
She even provided me with a list of online resources that I could use to learn more.
Amy, I was speechless – and my husband was livid.
I replied that I would check the ingredients and do my best to meet your needs. My husband said that if the illness was so severe, she would have to pack her own plate of food.
He said I should not reach out to our other guests and give instructions on behalf of Barb.
I was considering moving mountains to Barb when the last straw arrived: she asked us to clean our grill grills carefully, if they had any gluten remaining after the last grilling .
Is our friend ridiculous here or are we insensitive to her illness?
To what extent should a couple of hosts try to accommodate a guest in this situation?
Hosts without gluten: You should not try to determine if Barb's disease is as bad as it says. You should just assume that is the case. I agree, however, that she does not communicate about her needs in such a way as to inspire such a herculean effort on your part. In fact, its requirements seem overwhelming and become demands. She is also trying to shift responsibility for her health to you. Do not take it.
Instead of sharing your needs with your other guests who bring food, you should suggest that you contact them. With such specific requirements, she must trust no one else to communicate her exact requirements.
You have to assume that your best efforts may not be enough to completely decontaminate your kitchen, in accordance with Barb's standards, and you should tell him: "Hello, 'Barb', the area will be decontaminated from the way you might need. It would certainly be safer for you to bring your own food this year. If you feel that you should also bring your own plates, cutlery, etc., I assure you that we will not be offended. And do not forget to bring a dish to share with the rest of the group. Looking forward to!"
Dear Amy: I have four grandchildren and I have the intention of sending a check to each of them this year.
Three of my grandchildren are single; the fourth is married.
If I send the check to his name only, will his wife's feelings be hurt; or if I use both names, will he feel like receiving only half of what his siblings receive?
It's a little dilemma, I know, but it bothers me.
Great to wonder: You should never assume that your married grandson will feel that he has received less than his siblings. It might actually feel that, but you should not assume it or worry about it. People who are fortunate to have partners benefit from their partnership in many ways. Hang the money – her feet are hot at night!
Even if you only send a check in his name, he would probably (or should) find a way to share his bonus with his partner. If you send the check with one note at a time to him and his wife, it could help you overcome your anxiety about his feelings.
Dear Amy: I thought you had given an excellent answer to "Upset Ex", whose ex-husband was looking for money. My first thought was, "Amy, tell her no! No! No!"
As I have "trained" my children and now my grandchildren, "NO, this is also an answer.This is not just the one you want."
And the other: "What is the worst that someone can say when you ask for something? No."
L, Beaverton, CO
L: "No, it's also an answer." Excellent answer.