Dear Annie: My husband can’t sing. I’m not judging him for that, because I can’t sing either. The problem is that he thinks he can. Every morning, as I’m getting ready for work, he’s putting on a little concert in the bathroom. Nights when he’s making dinner, he puts on the radio and sings along as he cooks. His favorites are corny classic rock and ’80s ballads with high notes that he never manages to hit. It’s irritating, and I find it unattractive. I’ve tried to hint to him to stop, but he doesn’t seem to get it. I go to a different room to avoid it, but I can still hear it. What can I say to stop these unrequested performances? — Not a Fan

Dear Not a Fan: Singing not only expresses joy but also reinforces it: It causes our brains to release endorphins (the same feel-good chemicals that are released during exercise) and oxytocin, which has been shown to alleviate stress and anxiety. Your husband’s morning ritual is good for his long-term health. I say let him keep singing.

I get it: Many of us are spending way more time in close quarters with our partners than we ever thought we would, and we’re discovering whole new pet peeves. But try to gently steer your attention back to the bigger picture. Life is short. Love is long. And there may come a day when you’d give anything to hear that off-key voice from the next room.

Dear Annie: We, like many other families, are not going to get together for the holidays due to the coronavirus and quarantine restrictions. This is the first time in 45 years. What to do? Do I pack up what I can and send the gifts to our daughters? Or do I say we will just postpone our Christmas? It makes us sad. I am sure many families have met this roadblock before, and though I’m grateful to have been fortunate enough to have not, it is still hard! — Caroline M.

Dear Caroline: The holidays really make clear the fact that “home” is not so much a place but a feeling, the one we get when we gather with our dearest loved ones. And this year, many of us will be home for Christmas only in our dreams. It’s a heartache.

I encourage you to do whatever feels most right to you, whether that’s shipping the gifts now or planning to celebrate post-COVID-19. More important than the presents, though, is sharing some of the day with your loved ones, so schedule a family video call on Christmas Day. It’s no substitute for in-person time, but it’s what we’ve got and it does help.

And I’ll put this question out to my readers: How are you planning to celebrate Christmas from a distance this year? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Dear Annie: I live in The Villages, Florida, and, at last count, our neighborhood has given more than 80 sleeping mats made out of “plarn” to homeless people in the Ocala National Forest. Before COVID-19, we got together on a weekly basis to make the plarn and knit the mats. Many other groups here decreased potential litter from plastic bags by turning them into something useful. — Elise in The Villages

Dear Elise: I’m so glad to hear that making these “plarn” mats seems to be a nationwide trend! I encourage anyone who has the time to check out plarn mat-making tutorials available on YouTube.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected].


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