DEAR HARRIETTE: I have an annual subscription to my local theater company. This used to be a favorite activity for my husband and me, but everything is canceled now. The company recently sent me a letter asking if I would donate the money I spent for the subscription so that it can try to stay in business. It also asked if I would be willing to make a contribution, kind of a good-faith gesture to try to help the company stay afloat. I totally understand the situation. Most of the performers are young up-and-comers who probably have nothing now. When they weren’t on stage, I bet most of them worked in restaurants and bars that are now closed. I am happy to let them keep my subscription money, but I can’t afford to give more. Things are tight at home for me, too. How can I tell them without being rude? -- Limited Gift
DEAR LIMITED GIFT: Be direct with the theater company. Know that it will be appreciative that you are willing to donate your subscription money without the promise of entertainment in return. That, in and of itself, is generous and thoughtful. The fact that you are unable to give more is perfectly understandable.
All of us are in this together, trying to navigate how to live in the pandemic. There is no one solution. It’s tough, and we are doing our best. Give yourself credit for being thoughtful and as generous as you can. Write a note to the theater company expressing your gratitude for its creativity over time. Describe what you can offer financially, and express that this is the limit for now. Wish the company well as it weathers this storm. That’s sufficient.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I learned that one of my mother’s best friends is not doing well. It sounds like she is physically ill and also suffering from dementia. My mother is not well, either. The two of them used to be so close. Now I don’t even know if it is a good idea to put them on the phone with each other because they are both feeble. It’s really sad. I end up talking to each of them separately. How much should I tell my mother about her friend? I am so unsure. Obviously, they can’t visit each other. Half the time, I don’t know what my mother retains anyway. Should I make sure that she knows about her friend’s condition? -- Keeping Informed
DEAR KEEPING INFORMED: We never want to worry our elders, so it is good to be cautious. But at the same time, you should let your mother know that her friend is suffering. Without giving her the blow-by-blow, tell her a bit about her friend’s condition. If your mother is a praying woman, suggest that she offer a prayer for her friend. If possible, facilitate a call between the two of them with you on the phone. In this way, you can guide the conversation and also remember what was shared so that you can continue dialogue about it with your mother at another time.
(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.)