Broke single mom + rich single woman = friends?

Short version: We were roommates in college and had some good times together, after which our path diverged entirely. She inherited millions, globetrotted, bought rambling homes, enjoyed romances and literally never worked a day in her life. I worked hard to pay off tens of thousands in student debt, bought a rundown fixer-upper and fixed it myself, became a single mom at 38 and continue to work long hours in my chosen field. We're both now 40 and we've been out of touch for several years, largely because I was tired of feeling like the "poor relation." During our friendship, she would insist on going to fancy restaurants that I could never afford, and then paying the bill; staying at hotels I could never afford, and then paying the bill; I once brought my homemade wine for her to try, and she instead opened a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape (an $100 bottle). She has even said condescending things about poor people in front of me. Anyway, she has now reached out for a Christmas visit. My instinct is to say no, we're just too different, and frankly I have been quite enjoying life with other people in my "lower" class. What would you do?

Thin Walls

When I moved into new apartment back in February, I didn't realize the place had SUCH thin walls. I've pretty much gotten used to it now, and I'm even more careful about my own noise levels. But lately I've been hearing my elderly neighbor crying a lot, especially late at night. I don't mind it so much because it's not a wailing cry, but more of a very sad and deep heavy cry. It actually sometimes brings me to tears myself because I'm going through some tough times myself. Sigh. But when I see this particular neighbor in the elevator or on the street she looks so happy and chipper while she walks her dog. But I guess we all hide our sadness to the outside world. But I do see the sadness in her eyes despite her strong facade. The question is...should I ask her, just as a friendly neighbor and fellow human being, if she's ok? Should I mention that I hear her cries at night and if she wants she can confide in me? Or is that creepy?! I don't want to be creepy. But I do have a soft spot for old people...

Is Christmas the ONLY holiday?

It's a pretty obvious observation to many that Christmas seems to be at the forefront of company marketing very early on every year. In fact, I have seen Christmas advertisements as early as August. I can't be the only one that is frustrated with the utter disrespect of other popular holidays during the big season; particularly Halloween and Thanksgiving. Corporate influence isn't everything though, but it ruins the atmosphere for each respectful holiday for me. I'll go into a grocery store looking for Halloween candy and see a bunch of chocolate Santas. I'll shop online and a snowflake encrusted banner will slide across my screen. If I want to walk outside on the first day of November, I'll have to try not to trip on all the Christmas lights.

And that is just where it starts, obviously. I feel that it has spurred an entire social discourse where we are assumed to prepare for "our favorite" joyful, cheery, fa-la-la-la-longest running holiday way in advance, leaving the others feeling rather unimportant. I don't know what it is; maybe it's because I feel that my childhood is being stepped on. But, I can't be the only one who feels this way, right? I believe every month should coordinated with it's respectful holiday: ambience, material goods, events, etc. It certainly used to be that way but, it has changed drastically as of late. So, what do you think? Am I alone here or is it really not as big a deal as I'm making it out to be?

Mixed Signals Or Not

There’s a mom at my kids’ school who I’ve known for years now, because our oldest kids went to the same daycare as babies. I’ll call her Betty.

Well, I don’t particularly trust Betty as a friend, but I don’t mind keeping her around as an acquaintance. She’s one of the mean moms at school and I’ve always done a pretty good job at keeping her at arm’s length. Even my oldest never asks to have playdates with her oldest. We just don’t match even after all these years. Betty even made a remark recently that she thinks I’m avoiding her. Yikes. But Betty is now pregnant with her fourth child, and I’ve always given her baby gifts over the years because that’s just who I am and I do love shopping for baby items since my own kids are no longer babies.

My question is though, am I sending her mixed signals if I buy her a baby gift for her fourth kid? Should I just not? Or is that also weird since I’ve bought gifts for all her other baby births?

Wedding fund in lieu of gifts: Tacky or practical?

Since my partner and I are financing our wedding, we’re being very mindful of expenses. We really don’t need wedding gifts, but just pitching in for the wedding itself would be really helpful. Is it tacky to delicately mention a wedding fund in lieu of gifts? I don’t think this is different from a registry, but I’m not sure of the etiquette here. Our dream is to have something super casual with our wide circle of friends, but we can't do this without the guests pitching in a little bit for open bar and food expenses.

What's your guest cleaning policy?

It’s part of my culture to do a big sit-down dinner every week. We love having people over and there’s a group of three people that come every week, which I totally adore. I do the meal planning and cooking and they bring the wine. However, I’m also the one who gets stuck with the cleaning at the end. Is it rude to ask my guests to please wash their own plates, glasses and cutlery before they leave? They've gestured at offering, but I don't know if it's rude to take them up on it.

Gym Pet Peeves

My quandree more of a curiosity of mine for my fellow gym people on here. I've been working out for nearly 6 years at this point and I'm starting to think I've seen it all. I'm going to tell you all about a few of my biggest pet peeves I experienced in the gym and I want to know if any of you share in my annoyance.
#1: By far my biggest pet peeve is when people do not put weights or other equipment back after they have finished using it. Like not only does this make other people think that the equipment is still in use and thus unavailable to them but sometimes if it is on or near other equipment it may even prevent people from using that equipment as well. Recently when I was in the gym I witnessed a couple kids repeatedly leave weights behind and never go back for them. Finally, I asked them if they were finished with the weights they'd just left behind at a pair of benches, when they said they were I asked if they were planning to put the weights away. It was like the suggestion was a novel concept to them like they'd never expected to have to put back what they were using after they finished.
#2: My second biggest pet peeve is when people are not actually using a bench but will still leave stuff on or near it and claim to be using it when asked. Like someone who will put their phone and or water bottle on a bench while they do standing curls then use the bench to rest the weights on between sets and when someone who actually wants to use the bench for it's intended purpose asks to use it they are told no because the current person is "using it".
#3: My third biggest pet peeve has only happened to me a few times but when it does it is quite frustrating. That is when a person knowingly steals the equipment you are using and refuses to return it to you and/or takes it with them when they are finished. One time that sticks out in my mind, I was doing supersets (which is where you shift rapidly between two or more exercises with little to no break in between) and I had just finished a set of seated bicep curls and left my bench to go do pull-ups, upon returning I noticed a man sitting on my bench using the weights I'd left behind. I politely waited for him to finish his set then asked if I could have my bench back as I needed to do my next set. The man refused, saying that I had left and that I could have the weights and bench back when he was done (I'd been gone max 2 mins). I told him what I was doing, that I was going back and forth and that he could work in with me if he wanted but he still refused to give me the weight, the bench, or the time to do a set while he was resting.

My friend's new puppy is adorable, but annoying.

My two best friends (who are dating and live together) just got a sweet, new puppy. They adopted her from a shelter after she'd been returned back to them twice because of "behavioral issues." My one friend manages a doggy daycare and has a lot of experience handling dogs, and the other doesn't have any experience. The dog is a real sweetheart, is always excited to see people when they come over, and knows a few tricks, but can get really hyper and worked up at the blink of an eye. She doesn't always play well with other dogs and whines almost constantly. My friend with no dog care experience says we have to just ignore her when she does this, but she can sometimes go on whining and barking for 30 minutes at a time. This is especially embarrassing when we're all out in public and he does nothing to get her to stop. It's not my place to scold the dog, but how can I bring the problem up to my friend without offending him?

Wedding Gift Etiquette

If someone goes to your wedding and does not give you a gift (but def could have afforded it – money was not the issue), and then invites you to their wedding and you plan to go, do you get them a gift?

How much do you tip for food delivery?

Do you pay a flat fee or a percentage of the bill? Never sure if I am under-tipping or over-tipping!

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