DEAR AMY: My wedding is coming up. I'm dealing with some drama. I am marrying for the second time and am very happy. My first wedding was an elopement to get around the family problem, which is my brother's wife. She is a storm cloud and she rains on everything. She and I do not get along. I believe in open arms to all, and so I always greet her at family functions and she never responds. She is famous for sitting and scowling at the family Christmas celebration without talking to anyone. After much deliberation my fiance and I decided to get married at a beautiful hotel near us and include a family ceremony. While planning for my big day my thoughts have been going back to my sister-in-law and dreading the attitude she will bring to the event. I decided not to invite her to my wedding. It is drastic, but it is what I want. I sent a short email explaining that I felt terrible, that I have tried for many years to befriend her, to no avail. I explained that on my important day I only wanted people who love and wish me the best. I stood up for myself. Unfortunately my mother is convinced that I am breaking up the family. I think my mother should support me. How can I fix this rift with my mom?
DEAR BLISTERS: It's your wedding and you are determined to have only supportive and loving people around you -- which makes me wonder if you've ever actually been to a wedding.
Weddings (such as the one you are planning, which you call a "family ceremony") are family events. And families tend to be populated not by universally supportive and loving people, but by overlapping webs of complex relationships, featuring some challenging (and sometimes downright awful) people.
If you truly believe in "open arms to all," then why are your arms folded now? You don't mention if your brother ("Storm Cloud's" husband) will attend this wedding without his wife, but you have put him in a terrible position by not inviting her.
So in a way, your mother is right: You might not be "breaking" the family, but you're certainly bending it.
Do NOT expect your mother to wholeheartedly support you on this -- the only possible position she can now assume is one of complete neutrality, because she probably wants to maintain a relationship with your brother's wife later, even if you do not.
DEAR AMY: For many years I have been the designated driver for my friends who cannot drive for a number of reasons. When I drove a gas-guzzling car, they would put something in the kitty for gas when I drove them. Now that I have an electric car they never offer to help. On the whole I don't mind, but when I recently drove a friend around for six days during her vacation, never was a cent (or a meal/wine/etc.) offered to help defray the costs. How should I respond?
A Bit Disgusted
DEAR DISGUSTED: It is easy to gauge expenses when you see a nozzle going into a car's gas tank and the numbers ticking by as the petrol flows in.
It is much less obvious when the car is plugged into the outlet between trips.
When you squire your friends around, you should ask them to pay for any parking fees. Regardless, you are really talking about feeling unappreciated. This happens when you feel like you have done too much and received too little. One way to prompt a friend would be to say, "I'm going to let you take me out for a glass of wine, are you in?"
DEAR AMY: I liked your response to "Worried Great-Gran," but I don't think you went far enough. She was anticipating having her young great-grandson visit for a week and stay with a man -- her husband -- who is an abuser. I don't think this woman is capable of protecting the boy. She should cancel the visit.
DEAR READER: This grandmother has a duty to protect the child. Canceling the visit might be the only foolproof way to do this.