DEAR ABBY: Do you have any advice for coping with a child who is incarcerated during the holidays? My son, who has never been in trouble in his life, made a foolish mistake. He ran with the wrong crowd and is now in prison.
Every day is a torment, and I don't know how to handle my emotions. I can't enjoy anything at all, much less prepare a holiday meal and put up a Christmas tree. It feels like all the joy in my life has been sucked out.
- Feeling Hopeless
DEAR FEELING HOPELESS: You have my sympathy. When a loved one is incarcerated, in a sense, his or her family is serving a sentence, too.
All I can offer is to remind you that your son is paying for his mistakes, and that making yourself sick isn't going to help him. Right now he needs your emotional support, and in order for you to give it to him, you must take care of your health and stay strong.
If you're preparing holiday meals and decorating a tree, then there must be other family members who need you. Exercise can help people cope with depression, and so can the support of other mothers who have children in prison. If you can affiliate with some of them, it may help you, too, because if anyone can relate to what you are feeling, they should be able to.
DEAR ABBY: I was at the hairdresser yesterday, and when I went to the register to pay, the receptionist asked me if I was over 65 so I could get the senior discount.
Abby, I am only 55! I found her question insulting, and several of my friends have had this same experience. I appreciate the young woman trying to save me a couple of dollars, but I'd rather pay full price than be asked if I want the discount.
Why don't businesses that offer senior-citizen discounts just post a notice near the register? That way, if a customer is entitled to it, she or he can ask for it when they check out rather than have to hear that they look older than they are.
- Insulted in Peoria, Ariz.
DEAR INSULTED: Many businesses do post notices such as the one you suggest. What happened should be discussed privately with the owner or manager of the salon. While I am certain the cashier did not intend to offend you, that's what happened, and "helpful" employees like her have been known to discourage patrons from returning. You will be doing everyone a favor if you speak up.