Dear Ann Cannon • Ugh. Our mother, who lives alone, still hasn’t taken down her Christmas tree. Last year she left it up until February, which would be bad enough if it were a fake tree, but it wasn’t. It was a real tree. A real dead tree that sat there drooping and shedding needles in the corner of her living room. The year before that she left the tree up until St. Patrick’s Day. My sisters and I worry that it’s a fire hazard. Also, it just looks bad. How do we tell her that it’s time to let it (the tree) go?
— A Tree Grows in Our Mother’s Living Room
Dear Tree • When you say, “How do we tell her,” I’m guessing you’ve already told her to take her tree down, right? Many times, in fact. What you really want is for her to mind you. Which she probably won’t. In my experience, parents rarely mind their adult children.
Meanwhile, is it possible that your mother suffers from SAD, aka Seasonal Affective Disorder? This is a condition triggered by the winter season’s short days and weak watery light. The symptoms are similar to those exhibited by people suffering from clinical depression, which include changes in appetite and sleep patterns, a lack of energy and interest in activities that usually give them pleasure, irritability, a sense of hopelessness, and a desire to grow fur all over their bodies and hibernate in a cave filled with nuts, berries and doughnuts from Fresh Donut and Deli on State Street for the winter months.
It’s certainly possible to manage SAD. Light therapy — sitting in front of a full-spectrum light box first thing in the morning — can help. So can regular exercise, big hits of Vitamin D, antidepressants and the occasional trip to a golf course in St. George. As you might have guessed by now, I speak from personal experience here.
Bring up the subject of SAD gently with your mother and see how she responds, understanding that in the end you can’t make her do anything she doesn’t want to do. Then check on her regularly, invite her to go out with you and make sure her house doesn’t burn down.
You should also consider this possibility: Maybe she leaves her tree up because — you know — she just really likes her tree.
Dear Ann Cannon • I love to travel, and fortunately I have several friends who are wonderful travel companions. The only problem is I’m a light sleeper, and they all snore like freight trains. I use earplugs, but it’s not enough. What do you suggest? (Incidentally, I’m on a trip right now, and my friend is snoring away.)
— Sleep Deprived
Dear Sleep Deprived • OK. Here’s my first piece of advice. Don’t go on a trip with me. I snore. Also, don’t go on a trip with my Newfoundland dog, Tinkerbell. She snores, too. Plus, she drools.
Here’s my second piece of advice. If you and your friends can afford it, book separate rooms when you travel. If you can’t, you personally have one of two choices. You can either have a snoring intervention as in, “Here are some nasal strips. Wear these.” Or you can just put up with it. Myself, I’d probably just put up with it. But you get to choose.
Here’s wishing you all kinds of happy travels in 2018.
Dear Ann Cannon • I’ve had a beard for the past few years and I think it’s time for a change. There is one thing stopping me from shaving: my weak jawline. Should I unleash the double chin or should I maintain the illusion of a stronger jawline?
Dear Plus Size • Honestly, there’s no way I can answer this question for you. Do you have a significant other in your life? You could always ask that person for an opinion with the understanding that you might not like the answer you get. Also, you’ll probably create all kinds of resentment if you don’t honor said person’s recommendation.
So, on second thought, never mind.
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