Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I am really upset with my job. I have seniority, and I am single. I just learned that a woman who is my junior was given a lengthy Christmas vacation when I was not granted my vacation request. I believe she was given preference because she has a family with small children. As far as I am concerned, that's not fair. I have earned my time off, and I thought that if you were more senior, you should be given preferential treatment. I asked for my time off months ago, so it's not like it was a last-minute request. How can I appeal this without sounding petty? -- Feeling Dissed, Chicago

DEAR FEELING DISSED: Go to your manager privately and ask about your vacation. Start talking about you personally. Inquire as to why you were not given the time off that you had earned and requested. Point out when you initially made your request. If you do not feel satisfied with the answer you are given, bring up your colleague. Note that she is junior to you and that you feel slighted that she would be given the time when you doubt that she asked for it first and you have seniority. You can also ask if she was given the time because she has a family. Know that if this is the case, it would be considered discrimination.

DEAR HARRIETTE: The letter from "Family Ties" struck a chord with me. The daughter wanted her mother to start hosting Thanksgiving again after a 15-year hiatus. You agreed with the daughter that siblings and cousins could offer to clean and be responsible for cooking to talk her mom into holding it at her home again.

Give me a break! It's high time for one of the younger people to jump in and host this event. Their homes may not be as large -- so what? Family doesn't mind being crowded together. It may mean setting up card tables instead of having everyone eat at the same table. Most large grocery stores offer a baked turkey. You'd only need to provide side dishes and dessert.

As a young wife and mother 45 years ago, I had to beg my husband's family to allow us to host Thanksgiving. Eventually, we hosted all the family holidays as the elder members were lost to nursing homes or death. Give Mom her due and pick up the tradition yourself. -- Pushing 70, Salt Lake City, Iowa

DEAR PUSHING 70: I fully understand your position, and it makes sense that family tradition is passed from one generation to the next. My understanding of "Family Ties" was that the mother was the glue in the family and not everyone was getting together because the mom no longer hosted the meal. My idea was a compromise -- the young ones could prepare the meal at the mom's house.

Sometimes a hybrid idea can work. But that does not negate your point, that the young families should take the baton and continue the traditions leaving a seat of honor for the older folks while accepting full responsibility for the celebration.