ANNIE'S MAILBOX Be honest with parents

Dear Annie: My wife and I were raised Christian, and growing up, we attended church off and on. We've been married for 10 years, and although we do not go to church, we have instilled our values and beliefs in our children.
Our daughter recently asked us what religion we are. My wife and I both looked at each other and said, "I don't know." We have had many discussions in the past about our beliefs and have come to the conclusion that we are not really "Christian." After much research, we discovered that we identify more with the Jewish faith. We have since contacted a rabbi and are talking about attending synagogue services.
We've talked about our beliefs for years. We just never really pinpointed which religion felt right until our daughter asked us. Our problem is, how do we explain this to our parents? Soon-to-Be California Jews
Dear California: Your parents may never understand your decision, because religious belief and observance are intensely personal. However, if you discuss with them the research you have done and the reasons behind your conversion, they might be able to accept it.
Keep in mind that your parents may see this not as a religious choice, but as a complete rejection of them and the way they raised you. Try to be sensitive to that possibility and reassure them that it was their values which led you in this direction, and that your newfound faith will not cause a rift.
Dear Annie: My husband and I recently celebrated our 25th anniversary. I'm the eldest of five siblings and the only one still married to my original spouse. Each time one of my siblings remarried, my parents gave them a very generous monetary gift. For this big anniversary, they sent us only a card.
We feel slighted. We are both professionals, have no children and are comfortable financially, so money is not the issue. But they didn't offer to commemorate the day by taking us to dinner or doing anything special. I'm sure my parents have no idea how upset we are. Should we broach the subject or suffer in silence? Silver Anniversary
Dear Silver: You should speak up, otherwise this small tear could turn into a large chasm. This has nothing to do with your siblings, for whom your parents would naturally want to give gifts when they marry. However, 25 years together is quite an accomplishment these days, and it would have been nice if the occasion had been marked with more celebration. You cannot demand that your parents buy you a gift or take you to dinner. That is up to them. But you can let them know how you feel.
Dear Annie: Our office recently had a party, and everyone was asked to bring home-baked cookies. As I bit into my assistant's contribution, I almost gagged. It tasted and smelled of cigarette smoke. Other co-workers had the same response. We all ended up discreetly throwing those cookies away.
I don't want to hurt my secretary's feelings, but I cannot eat food from her kitchen. Why don't smokers realize that smoking while cooking transfers the foul smell to the food? How should I handle this? Make My Cookies Smoke-Free
Dear Cookies: You don't have to "handle" it. The party's over, and you are not obligated to eat your secretary's food. Treat this incident as if she were a lousy cook. Say nothing.
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