Dear Amy: As the holidays approach, I’m facing yet again the question of whether my adult sister is just a whiner with whom we must sympathize or if we are really facing a problem that our family must resolve.
My sister is a light sleeper and wakes up whenever anyone moves around or makes other noise. Unfortunately, many of us find that we need to make a bathroom trip during the night, and one of my other sisters is a loud snorer.
Over the holidays, every morning starts with the light-sleeping sister saying, “I’m so sad because I couldn’t get back to sleep after … .” This is despite the fact that we all grew up in a tiny little house in which both of our parents were prodigious snorers. The sister whose snoring she complains about (not me) is not nearly as loud as our folks.
The sister who snores can’t afford to get a hotel room. The sister who misses sleep because of this can afford a hotel, but won’t go to one — she doesn’t want to miss out on the camaraderie.
Me? I sleep right through everything — and I just wish I could sleep through the whining. I find this extremely annoying and start many of my vacation days rolling my eyes. This gesture is definitely not appreciated.
Must I muster up more sympathy for that poor light sleeper?
Amy says: I grant you one furtive eye roll each morning during breakfast — as long as you also realize how lucky you are to get a good night’s sleep (I haven’t had one of those in a long, long time).
You should respond to your sister’s whining by saying, “Oh, that sounds awful. I hope you’re OK.” (This sort of affirmation is often all a complainer needs.)
Do not brag about how many Zs you caught last night or offer her insomnia cures and suggestions. Ask if she is sure she doesn’t want to relocate to a hotel.
And, you well-rested braggart, pitch in and be helpful in the morning. Because that pot of morning coffee isn’t going to make itself.
Acceptance makes a difference
Dear Amy: On behalf of young gay men and women everywhere, please accept my warmest gratitude for your reflections toward the writer who felt “betrayed.” As a young, gay man who was also rejected by my parents, I believe that if I had men and women of your caliber in my corner when I was growing up, I would have had a better childhood. Thank you!
Amy says: The outpouring of response to this question tells me that this is a situation that is sadly familiar to many gay people. Thank you all for your positive comments.