DEAR ABBY: You frequently address family-gathering issues in your column. Last year I had the best holiday season since my childhood, and all because I declined every invitation I received.
My husband, our two children and I stayed home for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. What a stress-free experience it was! No pressure, no uncomfortable conversations, no fights -- just relaxing, delicious meals. Please pass this idea along to your readers: It is OK to decline invitations. -- COLLEEN IN WILLOWICK, OHIO
DEAR COLLEEN: I'm pleased to do so, bearing in mind the old saying, "Different strokes for different folks." Every year at holiday time I receive letters from conflicted readers who are under pressure from parents and in-laws to spend the holidays with one side of the family or the other. While those traditions can be rich and fulfilling, I advise them that it's equally important to establish family traditions of their own. Alternating holidays with extended family can also provide emotional dividends.