DEAR HARRIETTE: I come from a professional family. For several generations, everyone has been college educated and has had a great professional job. I took that route myself, and I am now working in finance, which I like.
I have met and fallen in love with a man who does not have a college degree. He and his family are simple people who live pretty modestly. They are salt-of-the-earth people, too. I love him, and I love them. My boyfriend does landscaping. He has his own truck and all of the tools he needs in order to be self-sufficient, and he does very well. In fact, he already makes way more money than I do in my junior banking job. I know it’s not enough for my family. They expect me to bring home somebody with a pedigree. I haven’t met anybody like that who makes me this happy.
Even though our backgrounds are different, my boyfriend and I like enough of the same things that I think it will be OK. How can I introduce him to my family so that they will accept him? -- Off Class
DEAR OFF CLASS: Being in a relationship with someone of a different class is one of the classic love story tropes, not unlike Cinderella and Prince Charming. Family beliefs and differences can be difficult to overcome, but you do not have to give in. If you love this man and believe that you can build a life together, drum up the courage to make that known to your family.
Start by talking to him and making sure that he understands what to expect when meeting your family. Get him ready so he isn’t too awkward when he meets them. Prep them by letting them know that you will be introducing them to the man you love. Ask them to give him a chance.
Time will tell whether you two can withstand the judgments of your family and carve out a place for you to thrive.
DEAR HARRIETTE: This summer I was invited to so many people’s homes to visit them, kind of in an impromptu way. I spent a weekend in a beach community, and people were so generous in inviting me to come over for drinks or dinner. Some of the people I knew, and others were new to me. It was very nice. Because it all happened so quickly, I wasn’t always able to bring a gift with me, like a bottle of wine or chocolates or something. Should I follow up with a gift? I have all of their phone numbers because we were mainly texting one another. What is an appropriate way to let them know how much I enjoyed their hospitality? -- Follow-Through
DEAR FOLLOW-THROUGH: If you took photos that include the people you visited and yourself, it would be sweet to send a thank-you text expressing your gratitude for their hospitality and sharing a memory of your time together. A bottle of wine after the fact is not necessary.
It is great when you visit people’s homes to bring them something -- what used to be called a hostess gift. But this is not a requirement. In impromptu settings like what you have described, sometimes you just have to go with the flow. But calling or texting to say thank you is thoughtful and memorable. Adding a photo helps to capture the memory for later times.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)