Election causes estrangement in political family

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Dear Amy: The recent election has set usually endearing people to unthinkable anger. As adults, we all have the independence to vote as we choose, though my father has disowned us for voting for someone other than his choice.

My father sent my sister and me an email expressing a lot of anger over the election. He said that the president is destroying the country and that he blames us for voting for him. He said, "I will have nothing to do with anyone who voted for him; that includes both daughters. I'm sorry, but that's how I feel."

He and his girlfriend will not take emails or phone calls. He has a serious heart condition, and I worry about his health. Is there anything that can be done to salvage this loving relationship?

— Desperate Daughter

Dear Daughter: I think the best thing to do is to ignore your father's statement and do your best to move on, without continuing or inflaming the political conversation.

If you live at a distance, send your father a letter where you convey, "I'm so sorry you feel the way you do, Dad. I can tell you are very upset. But I love you regardless and I want you to know that I'm on your side, no matter what."

You and your sister are worried about your father's health, so do your best to nudge the door open and then stick your foot into the opening to try to keep some active contact. You should also consider traveling to see him.

In short, I am asking you to be more forgiving and mature than your father is capable of being in order to have a relationship with him. Even if he continues to rebuff you, you will not regret making the effort.

Dear Amy: You seem to be good at suggesting gifts for people. So here's my situation: I have a big family and low funds this year. Got any ideas?

— Struggling and Generous

Dear Struggling: Thank you for recognizing this talent of mine. Mind you, it's always easier to come up with ideas for other people.

Here's what I did for my own enormous clan last year: I wrote down a family story, created a fun cover for it, and photocopied it for everyone. This is an extremely low-cost and personal gift.

My daughter gives everyone home-baked cookies.

Otherwise, you can donate your time as a service for your family members, or for others in your community. Make cards for each family member telling them what you are doing and make sure to follow through. This is giving the gift of you, and family members love that.

Dear Amy: "Wanderlust" was a woman in her mid-20s who wanted to quit her job and travel for a year with her young husband.

My response is: Go for it! My husband and I did the same thing at 28 (in 1975), and it was a blast! We sold most of our worldly goods — which weren't many at the time — quit our budding careers, outfitted a van for camping and traveled 23,000 miles around the U.S.A.

We loved it! We had a wonderful and memorable time. Along the way we met several old couples doing the same thing and I heard a consistent story: The wife said she had planned to do the trip with her first husband, but he died right after retirement, and she was on this trip with her second husband.

We found that the year off was only a tiny blip in our careers and made little difference when we resumed working. I hope Wanderlust and her husband seize the day and go for it!

— Julie in Minneapolis

Dear Julie: This letter got a large response from my Facebook fans. Every single response echoed yours — and I hope this couple pays attention. They could afford to drop out of their careers for a year and the only impediment was her parents. Her folks will have to adjust.

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