Category Archives: People & Politics

Shell Shocked

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My heart is breaking for America. I cannot get over the shooting in the Pittsburgh synagogue. It happened he morning of my best friend’s son’s Bar Mitzvah. What should have been a day of celebration was a time of grieving and sadness. We were sitting there together as a family and community shell-shocked that such a thing could happen in America. I know there are people in my congregation who voted differently than I did. Even they seemed shaken that as Jews, sitting in place of worship, they might be killed, just for being Jews, sitting in a place of worship. My city is about half Jewish, and we have elected both red and blue candidates. But I am the granddaughter of European immigrants who escaped fascism, and what I see in America now is eerily reminiscent of the stories I heard from Opa and Nana about their time, tinged with all their sadness about their family, neighbors, and friends who died. What will it take to make us feel safe again?

Shell Shocked

Dear Shell Shocked:

Safety is a huge question. Zero guns are part of an answer, though not very likely. And people who hate will find other means to kill. The only answer I have is to vote and to communicate calmly, and to encourage others to do the same. But that feels like a giant chasm from where we are now as a country. Part of what I had to do when writing my book was to deconstruct my legacy as the child of immigrants: to see how it shaped my worldview and emotional structure. Both my parents made it out of Germany very close to the beginning of WW2. They grew up in an increasingly fascistic country with a charismatic leader who actively espoused hatred of minorities, Jews at the very top of the list. If we do not want to go the way of 1930’s Germany, Americans must return to talking peacefully even when we disagree, calling out hatred and violence whenever we see them, smothering them with our large presence and caring hearts, and defending this great multicultural experiment we call America.

Except for Native Americans, all of our ancestors came from somewhere else and were reviled as that nationality just as Jews, Muslims, Hispanics, and more are currently being attacked. We have to speak out. Every day. Against everything that brings hatred into our society. We need to fight to keep America free. Not just with and from bullets, but with our votes and with our prayers and our acts of kindness to create a strong loving multicultural society. No one has to vote the same way as I do. But please vote, and make your opinions clear, peacefully, at the ballot box. And wherever and whenever you see it, confront violence, hatred, anti-Semitism, attacks on journalists, and other forms of incipient fascism as though your freedom and life depended on it. Because they do, as Jews, Americans, and humans. It is fine to cry when you do so. You will not be alone.

Flabbergasted

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

For years we have been friends with former neighbors who moved to
Hawaii. We mourned when they relocated. We have been there twice
in ten years. They have come to visit twice most years and three times
more than once, and early on we were happy to have them. While I
understand Hawaii is considered more desirable than our small town,
having guests is not merely a break in routine but burdensome and
expensive.

 

This time they gave us very little warning before they
arrived, never asked if the dates were convenient, and when we told
them we needed them to leave by Sunday morning latest, laughed and
said, “Oh we planned on Tuesday.” I didn’t want to be rude, but I was
under a massive work deadline. I just said, “I’m on deadline so you’re
on your own for meals,” and stayed in my office. After returning home
the wife sent me an email that said in essence, “This is not turning out
to be the exchange we expected. Please look for alternative
accommodations on your next vacation.” How do I reply?

Flabbergasted

 
Dear Flabbergasted:

Economists have this notion of “sunk costs” which leads to the idea
that it’s not worth throwing good money after bad. What’s past cannot
be changed, but it can provide you with lessons for the future when
dealing with other guests. Common courtesy suggests asking the
hostess if dates are convenient, agreeing on length of stay, amenities,
expectations about food and access to vehicles, and any household
peculiarities such as rising/bedtime quiet, etc. A gift of food, wine, or
something for the house, taking the hosts out to a meal, or another
thank you is common. Any potential guests who doesn’t meet that
standard gets a polite, I don’t think those dates will work for us.

 

In this case, it seems clear that the friendship is both one-sided and
not particularly close anymore. I would reply simply, Our views on
what this exchange has been are very different. I warned you I was
under deadline and was more accommodating than I should have
been. Your note suggests a sense of entitlement that makes it easy to
agree that this exchange is over, and overdue for that. She will take
umbrage no matter what you say, so sit on your email for 24 hours
before sending; if you feel better than worse after rereading, hit send,
or edit accordingly.

Walkies

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I go walking with a friend several times a week. She has two dogs and
I have none. Usually she holds them both, and she is very
conscientious about bagging their poop when we walk in urban
neighborhoods. She is also unashamed about asking me to carry the
poop bags while we continue on our walk, until we can deposit them in
a receptacle. Honestly, I find it rude and a little disgusting. I don’t
have a dog anymore and prefer not to do it. Is there a polite way to
decline? I otherwise enjoy her company.

Walkies

 
Dear Walkies:

This is situation where a simple No should suffice. Since she hasn’t
heard it if you said that, or if you are not ready to be quite so blunt, go
for the cheerful, helpful alternative. You can do this yourself if you can
sew, or perhaps you can find it already made by googling. But imagine
a small cloth bag with a Velcro strap that would fit around your friend’s
dog leash. When she scoops up the poop into a bag, you can hold the
leash while she puts the plastic bag in this receptacle and attaches it
to the leash. I would find or make two of them, and present them to
her with a roll of plastic bags, saying cheerfully, Look, I solved your
problem of poop control!

 
Most folks would get the message, but you might need to just say No
thanks when she hands you the bag. Or else find a new walking buddy
and meet her for coffee and schmooze instead.

Semi-Recluse

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Four of us go drinking every couple months, and have done so for the
past dozen years or so. I’ll spare you the internal group politics, but
despite minor tensions and annoyances most of the caring is sincere
and ongoing. I am the only retired person, and generally
accommodate the needs of the other three, who are all younger and
still working. But after six weeks of trying to get us together I gave up,
because everyone’s needs were so specific that it just seemed
impossible. The outlier for each date texted “Go ahead without me”
but I’m a traditionalist and don’t want to see the group bonding
weaken.

 

Then they came up with a date that I could not do because I
have jury duty and this was smack dab in the middle of it. When I
explained why I couldn’t, one of the friends (the one I speak to almost
every day), texted, “Sure you can. I have two jobs and I will make the
time.” I felt angry and shamed, and resentful that my needs didn’t
seem to count as much as everyone else’s, which is what I replied. I
also said they should go ahead without me and I would come if I
could. I’m sure I will be worm our and sick of people if I have to serve,
and not particularly chatty or social. Am I being reasonable or not?

Semi-Recluse

 
Dear Semi-Recluse:

A lot depends on how important this group is to you. As someone with
finite patience for chitchat, I am empathetic. But I also value long-
term friendships, and would suggest they’re worth the stretch. I would
follow up with a second email response saying: I truly have no idea if
my number will be called or if I will have to spend all day in court. I
suggest you go ahead without me, and unless I am seriously pooped
and cranky, I will show up. Then leave it to them to decide what to do.

Horrified

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I am not a germophobe, at least most of the time. But I do have a
particular phobia against hanging out with people who have bad table
manners, like slurping or chewing with their mouths open. I serve on a
committee that often meets over lunch when we are at the tail end of
our agenda. Last week one of the members (who is from out of town)
brought along a friend from home, as they had a day of activities
planned after the meeting. The friend helped with the committee
chores and we all went out for Chinese food, served family style. The
friend had a wracking cough that she seemed very conscientious about
covering, but never explained. My assumption was that she was on the
tail end of something but I didn’t ask. At lunch she repeatedly licked
her chopsticks and served extra portions from the common dishes
!!!! Not once but repeatedly. I was so stunned that I was speechless. I
know I should have spoken up right away but having failed to do so I
just avoided where I saw her serve herself. Should I say something to
the person who brought her or just avoid eating with her again?

Horrified

 
Dear Horrified:

You are correct that the time to have said something, as quietly but
firmly as possible, was the moment you saw it. You could have said,
Excuse me but I’m trying to avoid germs, could you please use the
common serving implements if you want more? That doesn’t focus so
much on how unsanitary her behavior is but gets the point across. And
since no one else said anything, you have no idea if they were
bothered as well, but if they would likely have been relieved to hear
someone intervene.

 

 

I would say something to the mutual friend. The woman might have a
medical condition that is in no way contagious. But no one who hears
her cough would know that. When she’s with strangers, she could
learn to say, Please excuse the cough. It’s not anything contagious
and it’s a pain to live with. Then germaphobes or not don’t have to
fret. But the bad table manners are unsanitary and she’s better off
hearing about them from a friend.

Trumped

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My name is Sadie and I am a bridge addict. Specifically online bridge,
which since my beloved husband of forty years died, has become a
form of personal connection as well as a way to fill up the long empty
hours. I found an online site and at the flick of wrist I can be happily
engaged for hours with people who share my interests and with whom
I can chat and hone my brain. But having “friended” so many people,
it is hard to choose whom to play with when. I like the newness of
random “take me to the first available seat” and have no compunction
about leaving a table where people are rude. But in my eagerness to
set up games with people like myself (lonely widows, sigh) I find that I
have overscheduled and my in-person human friends here at home
have been saying they feel neglected. How do I find the happy middle?

Trumped

 
Dear Trumped:

Only you can decide what to do with your time. But favoring online
cocooning instead of live humans is a poor choice for a woman who
still sounds cogent and vital. You need to find the happy middle by
being honest not just with your friend but also with yourself.
Are you lonely for friendship or for relationship? Assuming you do not
want to become re-partnered, you can skip a large focus of energy and
attention by not adding dating to the mix. But do not assume others
will not try to date you or set you up. If you just want something to
while away the hours, consider volunteering in an after-school
program, teaching bridge to a younger generation who may not know
the game and love it as you do. There are of course the usual lunches
with friends, social engagements to theater and movies, and
volunteering at your synagogue.

 

My vote would be to take a class in
something you know nothing about but would like to become a novice
at doing. You will be surprised how quickly your obsessive streak can
shift to a new and engaging activity. Limit your pre-set games to a few
a week, and trust the fates to connect you with new people who will
interest and challenge you. Your job is to show up and leave room for
that to happen.

Nanette

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Do you have advice for how to graciously fend off a persistent suitor?
He is everything I am supposed to want in a date, but I find myself
putting “shields up” whenever I am around him. There’s nothing
specific I can put my finger on that should make me feel this way, but
it is consistent. The more I say no, the more he tries to woo me with
invitations or appearing in places that I am. It is not stalking yet, but it
feels like it. Short of being abruptly unkind, or threatening him with a
court order, is there a No, No, No that will work?

Nanette

 
Dear Nanette:

Yes, Yes, Yes. But here’s the rub: If you seriously want to get through
to Mr. Clueless, you are going to have to be firmer than you have
been, and risk his ire. If you are willing to be less polite you can
accomplish this. Decide that first.

 
When you are ready to go, plan a multi-pronged approach. Send him a
note that says, I am flattered by your attention and have seriously
considered whether I want a social relationship with you. The answer
is No, I do not. Please stop asking me out and trying to be in places
that I am. My answer will not change. Thank you for respecting my
choice. Then share the note not only with your own friends, but ask
them to convey the message to his friends that he is making a fool of
himself and that there are lots of other fish in the sea, as my mother
used to say.

 

Ask your friends to serve as allies in situations where he
tries to come near you. They should stick to you like glue, or be in
close enough range that if he does approach you directly (which most
people would stop doing after your note), that they can insert
themselves into the situation. If he does ask you out again, and they
are present, you should just say No, and they should say, in a slightly
louder than polite voice, What part of No don’t you understand? It
shouldn’t take more than once or twice to deter him. But if it does not,
talk to an attorney about what your rights are to request a restraining
order.

Boundaries Needed

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a friend with whom I run hot and cold. I suspect she feels the
same about me. For years we were close, but the friendship eroded
over a variety of factors, from disapproval about who was dating
whom and how that impacted the friendship, to matters of synagogue
politics, and because of misunderstandings of a small nature that felt
bigger because we cared less about one another. Nothing fatal but we
drifted apart, except for monthly movie/meal evenings and
conversation between plays watching football. Her house is being
remodeled and she has taken to sending me texts saying, I’d like to
come watch the game, the Emmys, etc etc, without asking if this is
good for me or even suggesting that she will bring anything for the
meal that occurs during those times. I know she is not trying to be
rude, but I feel very taken for granted. In the spirit of the season,
what should I say?

Boundaries Needed

 
Dear Boundaries:

In the spirit of the season you should be honest and also welcoming.
In the Tree of Life there is a very intentional balance between chesed
(loving-kindness) and gevurah (boundaries/discernment). It is fine to
apply both to get to a balance. Tell her you’re glad to be a hostess to
her during her dislocation when it works with your schedule. Ask her to
give you as much notice as possible so you can try to accommodate
what she needs, and say you will alert her asap if her timing doesn’t
work for you.

 
When you have opened your home to her, and are sharing a meal (to
which you may or may not choose to ask her to bring something she
could pick up easily along the way), tell her that you are happy that
you two are closer again, and past the difficulties of the past. Tell he
you enjoy her company when you connect, and, in the spirit of the
season, want to be sure that any past elements of disagreement have
been resolved. That conversation will either bring you closer or less so,
either of which will shift where you place your welcome mat.

Altruist

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I am a veterinarian who works with rescue organizations in cases of
major emergencies and natural disasters. In my time in Texas the past
few weeks I have witnessed acts of great heroism and great cruelty
and indifference towards pets. I’m proud to say that I helped a great
many helpless, abandoned creatures that might otherwise have died.
What do I say to my clients and neighbors here who are accusing me
of abandoning them in their time of need and “running off to help
strangers when I needed you!”? I value my clients and my neighbors
in Florida. When I got assigned to Texas no one knew what would
happen here. I trust that my professional peers who were not in Texas
will be just as heroic and diligent as I was when they work in my
community. How can people learn that we are all connected and
should care for one another rather than hoarding and blaming and
being only out for themselves?

Altruist

 
Dear Altruist:

It always fascinates me during periods of great crises, natural disaster
or war, how human nature tends towards the extremes. Hard times
bring out the best in many, even thankfully most, of us, and the worst
in a few who make all problems worse. Compared to physical violence,
looting, and threats and coercion, emotional guilting is a relatively mild
form of acting out. But it speaks to the same limited consciousness
and selfishness as the worst of the bad extreme.

 
You are to be commended for volunteering to go into danger zones.
The whiners should be chastened but I suspect that is not your nature.
I’d like to think they would find greater compassion once they are out
of imminent danger, though sadly that’s likely not going to happen.
Give them a pass for now, and send an email to your clientele both
now and just before you deploy next time. Remind your clients that
you serve a wide population in need, and that if they need help while
you are away, they should contact so-and-so. Wish them good health
for themselves and their critters and remind them of your years of
service. If they choose to leave your practice, wave at their departing
tushies and seek out kinder folks. This is the season to heal the world.
Thank you for doing more than your share of the heavy lifting.

Typos

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My neighborhood has a FaceBook page. People post everything from
neighborhood alerts re thefts, look for yard help or babysitters, sell big
items, announce garage sales and rentals, etc. I posted a question
recently to try and help a friend’s son find a rental in the
neighborhood. Somehow the spelling got screwed up and one of the
neighbors tore me a new one trying to correct my posting. I thought I
had proofed it but apparently it didn’t happen. (For the record I’m
convinced that auto corrupt–as I call it–is toxic and changes things
after one proofs.) In her response she had misspellings and weird
words too!! LOL. When I pointed out that hers also had misspellings
her answer was “cheap shot!” I have had no prior dealings with her
incur such enmity, and I don’t want a feud in my neighborhood but I
felt cold the pot calling the kettle black was only fair. Did I do wrong?

Typos

 
Dear Typos:

As someone who has only recently, and I suspect belatedly, discovered
the dictation feature on my smart phone, I am empathetic with
attempts to be efficient. Ditto for trying to help a friend’s son. But
sometimes when we are trying to do too much too fast, things can go
kaflooey. And what is efficient for you may impose unforeseen costs on
others.
In my universe, self-righteous people get what they deserve if their
own foibles are exposed to be the same as those they are pointing
fingers at. If she committed exactly the same error that she accused
you of there’s no problem holding a mirror up and pointing it in her
direction. The high road of course would’ve been to let her mistake
stand in public. But I neither blame you nor do I suspect I would’ve
acted differently. I would add a comment that apologizes for the typos
and be exceptionally careful the next few times you post. Most people
have short memories, and unless this neighbor comes at you again
with anger I would consider the incident in your past. But if she does,
send her a message and ask why she seems to be so angry with you.

Trying to Get Fit

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have recently started attending Silvers Sneakers classes at my local
gym. My Medicare plan gives me virtually free membership and the
classes are a great mix of strength, cardio, and balance training. I’m a
newbie in a class of 50-60 folks that look like all my friends, with the
same graying hair and assortment of limps and leans. I am happy to
be polite but don’t need new friends, and I don’t want to be seen as a
negative new member. Frankly I just want to come, work out, and
leave. I resent the idea that people have “their” spaces and that when
I get there early try to sit up front near the instructor because I am
trying to learn the routines, I am being told”You can’t put your
chair/equipment there because it is So-and-so’s spot.” Do you have a
polite answer? Sometimes people try to hold 10 or more places and it
has begun to move past annoyance to anger. That is exacerbated
because the specific woman in question is a very loud evangelical with
bad politics who annoys me just by existing. I don’t want to yell but
I’m paying dues too, in my fashion.

Trying to Get Fit

 
Dear Trying:

You can try being polite with the offenders over the seating but I
would avoid a public tangle about evangelism or politics. Stick to the
immediate turf issues, and start with, I’m sure you like to work out
with your friends, but this isn’t a theater with assigned seats. We all
like to be close to the instructor, so I suggest that your friends come
earlier if they want to sit up front.

 
If that doesn’t work, then say something to the instructor and ask her
to make an announcement saying club policy allows a member to hold
their own seat and one for a friend, but no more than that. If it’s not
the policy, it should be. You might also ask the instructor about moving
around the room when she teaches. But newbie or not, hold your
ground, and smile and chat a little with the folks who are not part of
the clique. I’m sure you’re not the only person who is annoyed by
them.

Peeved

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I was asked to give input for the first annual review of a new rabbi in
our synagogue. Generally I like him, but like any newcomer to a
community that has long history, he has fallen into some bad habits,
and clearly has been influenced by a political clique that sees him as a
fast-track to accomplish ideas that much of the more mainstream
congregation has resisted for a long time. I was interviewed by a
member of that group (who is on the Board) and was not as discreet in
delivering my point of view as I suppose I should have been. Now I am
hearing myself misquoted by people who were not in the room, or on
the Board, even though I was assured the process was completely
confidential. Should I attempt to set things right or just let it blow
over?

Peeved

 
Dear Peeved:

Politics and gossip go hand in hand like so many other ills. Both are
difficult to control or suppress, and like the feathers once released
from a pillow, can spread far and wide with no one to contradict the
rumors or speak your truth except you. That said, the more you
inflame a controversy or story, the more energy you give it. My
recommendation is to be very focused in your response and your
reprisal.

 
I would send an email to the Board chair, cc the person who
interviewed you. In it you should say roughly this: Dear Chair: I was
interviewed as part of Rabbi X’s performance review by Person Y. I
was told my remarks would be confidential. Perhaps I was naïve to
think that meant not merely from the Rabbi but from others as well.
Since the interview I have heard myself misquoted by people who are
not even on the Board, let alone in the interview. Please instruct
Person Y to set the record straight and stop gossiping about me. You
cannot control what will happen next. But you can be sure Person Y
will not like it.

Hellllpppppp

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have two friends who used to be very close. One (A) is like a sister to
me, and the other (B) I have bonded with more recently, starting in
the middle-school period for their sons, who grew up like brothers, in a
semi-competitive but loving way. A moved away from being down the
block from B, to get her son into a “better” school. A moved back to
the original house for high school and they were neighbors again, but
less close. The boys are now both college grads, having ended up both
in the honors college of a nearby university, and been roommates
most of the four years. A’s son moved away for grad school; B’s son is
looking for work in the same city as his girlfriend, which, believe it or
not, is in the same town as the one A bought a few hours away,
because she is moving again, this time probably for good. A said no,
because she is letting the daughter of a family friend stay there for
free while she recovers from losing a job and fiancée, and wants to go
there herself on weekends so she and her husband can get it ready for
their relocation. The house is huge and the lower floor is a rentable
two-bedroom apartment that B’s son would pay for. Appreciate that I
hear these stories from both of them and if I did not I would never
believe it was the same story. Both expect me to validate their point of
view and I am unsure what to say. There’s more details but that’s
enough for the outline.

Hellllpppppp

 
Dear Hellppp:

I actually got out a pencil and paper and tried to keep track of the
characters in this little drama until I realized the issue has less to do
with anyone’s relationship but A’s with B and B’s with A and both with
you. So here’s my advice to all of you, which will be yours to
implement by saying to both of them: Stop talking about one another
and start talking to one another. I refuse to carry tales between you,
but if you ask my opinion I will start telling you the truth and stop
nodding so you think I agree with you.

 

 

I can understand A’s reluctance to fill a house full of twenty-
somethings if she is planning on living there. But if she visits only on
weekends, I would assert that she is responsible for setting all the
ground rules, including telling all the kids that when she is there, they
need to find different crash pads. Coming down from that draconian
stance, she should treat B’s son and the distressed family friend pretty
equally, especially if B’s son is like a brother to her own son. The kids
can share the lower part, all for free for a month or so. After B’s son
gets a job he and the girlfriend can agree with A on rent or find a place
of their own. But the big lesson here is simple: don’t be the person in
the middle.

Earplugs?

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Help me with a problem with a relative and politics. We were
completely on opposite sides of most issues in the last election. This
caused unbearable friction in the family, most of whom are liberal
Democrats. But one cousin, the eldest son of the eldest son of my
grandparents, at whose home we tend to celebrate the big holidays,
because they are sill alive (!) and we love them both, is not just a
diehard conservative, but openly scornful of “fool and idiots” who have
social values different than his. We agreed on ground rules last year,
but as this new president (whom many of us consider a “fake
president”) has begun to attack institutions that nay of us hold dear
and even are employed by, the cousin has become emboldened again.
At Passover he took over the floor for long, pontificating rants that not
only were offensive but also disrupted the Seder. No one knew what to
do and we couldn’t just leave, though many of us wanted to. Finally my
grandfather said “Enough!” and he shut up, but honestly it’s enough
that there is talk in two generations about avoiding any gathering he
attends. Do you have a recipe for family unity?

Earplugs?

 
Dear Earplugs:

One rule can be: zero, absolutely zero, discussion of politics or the first
offender will be summarily ushered from the family gathering. You can
distribute a pledge form and ask every family member to sign it prior
to attending. Another might be to agree that it is okay to talk about
politics but not more than one sentence, or the person will be escorted
out. Another, which is not very democratic, would be to disregard the
one outlier person and say that since 90+% percent of the voting
members of the family agree on a point of view, no other opinion is
allowed to be heard. But that’s the kind of thinking that has brought
this country to our current political standstill, so I am not advocating
that solution.

 

 

Since autumn there has been a wave of listening classes that have
allowed split relationships, be they familiar or friendships, to heal by
learning how to talk about subjects they disagree on. It has worked in
places like Northern Ireland and South Africa, so I’m betting your
family could pull it off. Google to find some ground rules and see if you
can all get a lesson in living in a world that’s not a bubble. You are not
alone in this, and in many families it is akin to the US before the Civil
War, which is not healthy for any of us.

Not Cheap

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I was recently invited to a 70th birthday party with for someone who
I’ve known casually from synagogue, volunteer work, local politics,
and mutual social. The invitation said “No cards, no gifts” so I wrote a
lovely card and was happy to attend a brunch at supper that turned
out to be more like a dinner. There were piles of political bumper
stickers and window signs to support various causes, which I took to
honor our mutual values. I saw many people I knew, and each one
came in bearing a gift. I was somewhat confused because I felt like I
had followed the rules. This is a community of like-minded souls but I
was surprised that I felt as badly as I did. Should I apologize
retroactively or just let it go?

Not Cheap

 
Dear Not Cheap:

When a host tells you what to do about gifts, I take them at their
word. There’s a big range in desires: some people make a list of
charities to contribute to while others request gifts from the registry
where they have identified what they want down to the brand, size,
and color. It’s completely at the discretion of the celebratee/host to
ask guests, and of the guest to do what they want and feel is right. I,
for example, loathe giving gift cards, while others think it is the perfect
solution.

 
In this case you should send an email and basically say, I saw a lot of
folks come in with gifts, which I understood was not what you wanted.
I felt badly, because I value our friendship, which has evolved from so
many different strands in our lives. Please let me know which of the
following places you would love me to make a donation to in your
name. Then include a list of organizations that you feel reflect your
mutual values, focusing on the ones that support the signs she had
provided for guests.