Ask Carolyn…



Dear Readers,

This week’s Ask Carolyn deals with (1) a keepsake Faberge-type ornament that was mysteriously broken (a “cat tail”), and (2) Holiday Stress Syndrome. Happy holidays to all you from Ask Carolyn.



Dear Carolyn,

I wrote to you Thanksgiving. I have another problem with Angel my cat. Remember, my husband calls the cat PITA, for Pain-in-the-A**. Well, here’s what Angel did, I think. My husband has a Christmas ornament made out of a goose eggshell. His grandmother made this Faberge-type ornament in the 1970s, so this ornament he inherited is almost 50-years-old. We placed the ornament on our tree as is our custom. When no one was watching, I think PITA climbed the tree and knocked off the goose egg ornament breaking it in hundreds of pieces. I have seen PITA climb the tree several times, so I feel sure this is how the ornament got broken. I do not know how to tell my husband about the ornament. He is going to be furious, I fear. He will start an investigation into what happened inquiring of the children and me, and of course PITA. This inquisition will make the Mueller investigation seem benign. What should I do? How do I tell my husband that this prized ornament is shattered?


Carolyn Answers …

Oh, boy. I doubt you can find a replacement of this ornament. I think I would not clean up the egg, and I would let your husband find it. Quite frankly, you really do not know what happened: see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil (in other words, don’t implicate Angel with your mere suspicions.) You have no proof.

This blessed ornament was enjoyed for around 50 years. Hopefully, you have a picture. Perhaps you can have a photo ornament made from a company like Snapfish. Include in the ornament a picture of the grandmother on one side and the ornament on the other.

For those of you out there with priceless family heirloom ornaments, consider a glass display case kept in your china cabinet. Maybe take the glass encased ornament out at Christmas dinner and talk about what a wonderful item the ornament is and blessed with the memory of a giving grandmother.



Dear Carolyn,

My husband loses control and is verbally abusive when we travel, particularly at the holidays. He just explodes like a volcano spewing nasty lava that burns everyone around him, usually me. He does handle a lot of the details of the travel. He packs the car, and he has to do this packing “his way.” But, perhaps this is best, because with grandchildren out-of-state, the car is packed to the gills. I never see this explosion coming, and I am blown away when the explosion happens.

This happened yesterday when we were getting ready for a pre-Christmas trip. We had a flat tire, and he developed a ridiculous rage, blaming me. He made me feel stupid. And, I think he intentionally wanted me to feel stupid.

I am depressed. I want to eat comfort foods and go shopping. I had been trying to lose 10 pounds, but his nastiness totally caused me to retract from my otherwise healthy eating. I also want to sleep more.

I dread traveling with him over Christmas for fear of the explosions. We are going to be gone 11 whole days over the holidays. He is usually nice, but he has these rages that take over without notice and are horrible.


Carolyn Answers …

I have some suggestions for you, your husband and some thoughts on Holiday Depression Syndrome. You and your husband have to talk about this – either between you or with a marriage counselor. The acts you describe would take away my joy, so I am sure the actions are taking away your joy for the season. Perhaps the theme of my response is “plan for gentleness.” Both of you need to make this a goal.

For you, I suggest that you do four things: (1) Come to grip with your feelings. (2) Talk to your husband about this problem. You cannot let this problem go, as it will fester into a terrible boil. (3) Plan ahead for gentleness. Maybe make up some kindness cards you leave for your husband telling him how much you appreciate when he is gentle. (4) Don’t stop healthy habits for yourself. Don’t let him “control” you with his explosions. You are in control of your response.

For your husband, have this discussion. (1) Ask him to pay attention to signs that he might be stressed. Ask him to share with you what the stressors are. (2) Ask him to let go of perfectionism. The car doesn’t have to be packed perfectly. (3) Ask him to set aside moments for meditation.

There is a short-term disorder known as Holiday Depression Syndrome – tis’ the season to be depressed, right? Why? The top three causes of Holiday Depression Syndrome are as follows: (1) setting unrealistic goals and objectives, (2) overspending or (3) too many commitments causing huge stress and anxiety.

Hopefully, with these thoughts you can have a blessed, positive holiday. Let me know if this works.



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Note that answers are intended to provide general legal information and are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by Ask Carolyn.