Dear Agony Aunt: Your Advice and Etiquette Questions Answered

When Friends and Family Go Maskless

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By Aunt Agatha on 15 December 2020
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Many American and British magazines and newspapers run advice and etiquette columns ranging from Miss Manners to Dear Abby to Savage Love.  The columns are not there, as you might have hoped, to offer solutions for everyday living.  More frequently, the questions range from “How can I get my annoying seatmate on this flight to shut up and let me watch my movie?” to “Where should I seat my ex-husband’s illegitimate gay son’s ex-lover at my daughter’s fourth wedding?”

Sherlock Holmes, as alert readers might know, regularly consulted the “agony columns” (the British term for such advice columns) and agony columns, of course, are written by agony aunts.  I am this publication’s agony aunt and will address readers’ issues of all types.

Dear Agony Aunt, written by yours truly, Aunt Agatha, will address all manners of travel and tech etiquette and life issues for you.  Simply send your troubles to and I will try to get to yours as soon as possible.

Dear Aunt Agatha

I’ve been very careful since the start of the pandemic but I’ve increasingly noticed that some close friends and members of my family practice what I consider to be risky behavior.  They ignore common sense precautions as recommended by the CDC and this all came to a head over Thanksgiving.  My closest cousins had an indoor, maskless Thanksgiving dinner with their elderly parents and a close friend of mine went to a Thanksgiving with his extended family. I can’t even begin to imagine what will happen with Hanukkah and Christmas gatherings this year.

–Masked in Manhattan

Dear Masked,

While these are indeed frightening times, you have to look at this with realistic expectations on what the outcome might be.  Everyone has been inundated by public health messages over the past nine months and some people are more fatigued than others from them.   In such times, it’s important to lead by example and to control what is within your power.  You can control what you do and, if you have younger children, what your children do, but that’s about it. What you could do is share with your naughtier relations and friends how difficult it’s been for you to have made all of these adjustments and to live a more cloistered life and see if they take the hint. If nothing else, go and enjoy the Hanukkah and Christmas gatherings but wear a hazmat suit. They’ll get the point.

Love, Auntie

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