DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are in serious debt -- college tuition payments, property tax, car repairs, etc. I would like to tell my husband's grown children and grandchildren we can't afford to give them gifts this year. My husband says we HAVE to buy them gifts. (I am usually stuck doing all the gift shopping alone.)
Throughout the year, I am included in all family gatherings, but when the grandchildren's pictures are sent, the note is addressed only to my husband. I have never received a birthday or Mother's Day card from any of them. I don't think it's because they consider it disloyal to their own mother. She's happily remarried, and we get along great.
Abby, I don't know why I must get "another day older and deeper in debt" for people who would walk right over me if I happened to fall in their path.
Am I being selfish or is there a point where you can "just say no" to Christmas gift giving? -- DEPRESSED THIS DECEMBER
DEAR DEPRESSED: If your husband insists on going deeper into debt, tell him that this year HE is in charge of gift buying -- as well as managing the bills when they arrive in January.
You are "Depressed" because you are overwhelmed by your financial situation and feel unappreciated by your husband's children. You and your husband would benefit from some sessions with a marriage counselor. It would give each of you an opportunity in an emotionally supportive setting to express what you expect from each other and what you want for yourselves. Ask your physician for a referral. It will be the best Christmas gift you have given yourselves in years.
DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Clothespin Connie on Long Island," whose husband won't shower before bed.
When my sons were old enough to date, I taught them that old men shave and shower in the morning, while young men shave and shower at night. It's based on the old adage, "You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar."
I still shave and shower at night -- and I'm 79 years young. -- CHET IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR CHET: With an emphasis on the "young"! Perhaps that saying should be amended to, "You can catch more HONEYS with honey than you can with vinegar."
DEAR ABBY: For the past few years, our elderly neighbor has come over to our house on Christmas morning. We are usually still in our pajamas watching our children opening their gifts.
Abby, I would prefer to enjoy this special morning with my immediate family ONLY. I don't want this neighbor intruding. How can I handle this delicate situation without hurting her feelings? -- FEELING LIKE THE GRINCH
DEAR FEELING: Your family may remind her of her own -- or the one she always wanted. However, your lonely neighbor won't stop coming for early morning festivities until you set limits.
A few days before Christmas, invite her to come to your home at a specific time -- for example, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Christmas Day, or on Christmas Eve, if that is more convenient.
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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