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Dear Amy: I moved to a semirural area for a public-facing job. One way I am trying to meet people is by hosting small dinner gatherings where I invite a group of people whom I think might make for interesting conversation. These people may or may not already know each other.

This almost never works out. I’ve had people ask if I will invite so-and-so. I’ve had people call me during dinner to say they would not be coming. Once, I had an expectation of 11 people coming and ended up serving five.

Truth be told, in this new town and new position, I am lonely. I want to get to know people better and this consistent weirdness (to me) has been frustrating and saddening. Is this just how it goes in the country?

Confused: I shared your question with Richard L. Kyte, director of the Ethics Institute at Viterbo University, whose new book, “Finding Your Third Place: Building Happier Communities (and Making Great Friends Along the Way)” comes out this spring (Fulcrum Publishing).

He and I agree that instead of inviting strangers in, you should find a “third place” to go to. Kyte reminds us: “Dinner parties are great ways to connect people who are looking for ways to broaden their social circle, but they may not be the best way to start out trying to make friends in a place where most people’s social ties are already broad and deep.

“Try finding ways to meet people gradually through social gatherings that are already established in your community: coffee shops, taverns, places of worship, service organizations. Let people get to know you in settings where they are comfortable, instead of asking them to meet you on your turf.

This is why “third places” (which are neither home nor work) are so important for meeting people and making friends. They serve as neutral ground where people aren’t burdened by the obligations of guest or host.”

Dear Amy: I have a dilemma that is common for my fellow baby boomers. My mother married young and had five children. Mom is now almost 90, the “kids” are senior citizens, and even the grandkids are mostly in their 30s. Nobody wants the “stuff,” like Grandma’s china, that ended up in my garage with Mom’s move to assisted living. I want my garage back!

I try talking to Mom about donating the unwanted stuff, but her response is that if I want to get rid of anything I should give it back to her, which is impossible. She is in the early stages of dementia and can’t really think practically anymore. Can I just go ahead and donate, without talking to her about it? If I had the space, I could just keep it in boxes until she passes, but I don’t.

What’s the “right” way to handle this? The five of us “kids” have a hard enough time navigating her decline as a team, without this added tension around Nana’s china.

Tired: Many people who might have used family things to furnish their own homes (if they had inherited in their 20s or 30s), are trying to cope with heirlooms when they are currently trying to downsize. You are faced with an ethical dilemma because you’d like to start the process against your mother’s stated wishes (an understandable choice on your part). I think you’d ultimately feel best if you adhered to her wishes, despite her dementia.

This is where a storage unit comes in. It would be a good idea for you to get “the team” together to go through and transfer things to a nearby storage unit. Devote a weekend to this task. The process of doing this as a group before your mother’s death would be very different than after her passing — when you will be stressed and grieving.

Doing this now will revive a lot of memories (which you can share with your mother — and one another). During the transfer you can as a group organize and label things, and perhaps start the dispersal process (with siblings taking some things home) and store the rest until after your mother’s passing.

Dear Readers: Have you ever had your question answered in the “Ask Amy” column? I’m interested in learning how things turned out. If you’d like to share an “Update,” please submit your story (along with the original Q&A), emailing it to me at askamyamydickinson.com. Write “Update” in the subject line.

© 2024 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

#Advice #Amy #friends #hosting #dinner #parties #isnt #working

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