DEAR AMY: During the holiday season I am expecting two people from out of town to stop by and I know they will want to spend the night at my house.
They are in their 80s.
Should I be expected to let them share a bedroom in my home even though they are not married?
I have plenty of room, but they certainly are not without funds to pay for a hotel.
What people do in their own home is their business, but I wouldn't even allow my own children to sleep with their significant others when they were not married.
The holidays are upon us, and I'm sure others would like to know how to handle this situation.
These people are not invited guests; they will be passing through on their way to and from a visit with other family members.
I don't want to offend them, but I don't lower my moral standards, even for relatives.
What should I do?
— Worried Relative
DEAR WORRIED: It is obvious that you don't want to offer this elderly couple a "room at the inn" while they're passing through. This is not quite the most charitable interpretation of the Christmas story.
Even though I find your position a little silly, it is your home and it is your right to impose your standards on houseguests.
You can say, "I'm not able to offer you a room for the night, but I'd be happy to suggest a local hotel and would like to see you for dinner if you're free."
If you feel forced to offer shelter, you can say to them what you would say to a younger couple staying in your home: "I don't allow unmarried couples to sleep together at my house, so I'll put you in separate rooms while you're here."
DEAR AMY: I am a professional artist, and my paintings usually sell for $500 to $5,000.
Recently, a longtime friend of mine moved into a beautiful penthouse apartment (which cost more than $3 million!) and asked me to "paint a picture" that would fit in with the decor.
She said she would gladly "reimburse" me for "materials" — by which I assume she meant a few dollars' worth of paint and brushes.
I was so flabbergasted by this amazingly insensitive request that I didn't know how to respond.
My wife said I should have said that I am working on a number of commissions — i.e., work for pay — and didn't really have time to do something for her (this isn't true).
I felt this was somewhat disingenuous.
How should this situation best be handled to maintain the friendship but to awaken my friend's brain to the fact that it is extremely uncool to force a friend to donate a professional or creative service?
— Jay on Long Island, N.Y.
DEAR JAY: There is no reason to lie when telling the truth might net you a nice commission.
When friends inquire about a professional service you offer, it is best to handle the query with professional enthusiasm. You can tell this person you'd like to work on something for her space. Offer to e-mail her some photos of other pieces you've done and a price list for this type of commission. If she thinks that paying for brushes and paint is sufficient, you'll just have to educate her about how you do things.
You are the person who decides the value of your work. Your potential clients can choose whether to pay the price you set. Your friend might want to negotiate a lower price — and that's her right (and your right to accept or decline the price).
If she is a person of means and you do a wonderful job, she may want you to do more work for her — and recommend your work to others.
DEAR AMY: I agree with "Sober," the person who wrote to you saying that no responsible baby sitter would have a drink of wine while baby-sitting. If grandparents want to indulge in a glass of wine in the evening, they should choose a night when they aren't responsible for their grandchild's welfare.
DEAR CONCERNED: Readers are divided on this question. Some agree with my friend Julia who says, half-seriously, that a glass of wine makes her a better mommy.
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