Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have been deluged with all things holiday. The confluence of Hanukah and
Christmas this year seemed to consolidate stress rather than spreading it out. So
when my future daughter-in-law (age 23) asked me to take her dog to the vet for
her because her boss needed her. My first thought was Aaarggghh one more
thing! But it allowed me to spare her a $1,000 bill for an ultrasound that showed
her ten-year-old companion lab (an amazingly sweet docile boy) has terminal
metastasized cancer. That explains his recent listlessness. The vet said he might
last three months, with or without a several thousand-dollar surgery. I think it is
time to say a sweet goodbye, and the money would be better put towards their
down payment on a house. But she is heart-broken, and in the spirit of the
holidays I let her make a bad decision to go ahead with surgery. Now I am
thinking that perhaps I should quietly tell the vet to slip the pooch a needle and
say that because he died during the operation she would charge only a minimal
fee. It feels both right and wrong to me in a confused emotional mess. Can you


Dear Momma:

You’re trying to spare your future daughter-in-law the sorrow and pain we all go
through when we have to say goodbye to a beloved companion. You’re also
attempting to impose adult values on a girl who is new to adulthood. Being a
homeowner is as mythical to her as a large debt or losing a companion she’s
known since her Bat Mitzvah. You can’t transplant your sense of the world onto
her any more than you can expect a vet to violate ethical standards. I know you
want to make this go fast and have it go easy on her, but you can’t spare her
pain now or in the future.

Give her a cup of tea and a strong drink and sit her down to talk it through. Ditto
with your son, who seems absent from your note. Talk about the options, and
then respect her decision.