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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Longs to Realize Her Dream of Family Sisterhood

DEAR ABBY: I am happily married, but all my life I have yearned for a close and sisterly relationship with my mother and my sisters. We are very different people, but a kind and understanding female relative is what I have always wished for.

They send me unsolicited advice, including articles about physical and mental health, diet pills and clippings on finances, etc., but we don't seem to be able to sustain good conversation, with listening or encouragement. I sometimes think people get so wrapped up in trying to "fix" others that they don't see the true beauty that lies within.

I have expressed my feelings to them about wishing we could be closer, but was told that sisterly affection is a "myth." Unfortunately, I don't fit in with my husband's family, either. Family issues seem to be the recurring theme of my life. It's depressing.

I work full-time, do charity work and have good friends outside my family, but I still long for a closer relationship with my family. Is there a way to let go of old dreams and wishes? With the holidays here, I have difficulty getting through this time without a bad case of the blues. -- MISSING SOMETHING IN MINNESOTA

DEAR MISSING SOMETHING: Forgive me if my response has a "bah, humbug" tone, but has it ever occurred to you that your mother and sisters may be incapable of being the kind of idealized family that you would like to have? If they didn't care about you, they wouldn't send you unsolicited advice, articles on physical and mental health, diet pills and financial planning. They may think what they're doing is a demonstration of their love and concern for you.

The surest way I know to "let go of the old dreams and wishes" is to concentrate on the here and now and the blessings you have in your life -- a solid marriage, a good job, caring friends and the ability to help those less fortunate. Christmas and New Year's can be a taxing time for those who are emotionally vulnerable. Because these holiday blues happen every year, some sessions with a licensed mental health professional could help you break that cycle.

DEAR ABBY: When I come home and my girlfriend is there, I greet her with a cheerful "hello" or "good morning." Her usual response is somewhere between a grunt and a sniff.

If I am home first and she walks in, she will immediately launch into a conversation without giving me a greeting. I have tried explaining to her that her behavior makes me feel like she isn't happy to see me. But when I tell her it hurts my feelings, she accuses me of trying to "control her."

She always gives her co-workers and friends a nice, friendly greeting when she sees them. Am I being too sensitive? I feel I deserve a similar acknowledgment if I take the time to be cordial. -- SHORTCHANGED IN GEORGIA

DEAR SHORTCHANGED: You're not being overly sensitive, and asking to be treated with warmth and courtesy isn't being controlling. Your girlfriend appears to take you and your affection for granted.

If there are other problems in your relationship, perhaps it's time to step back, take a cool and rational look at how you are being treated in other areas, and decide whether it is in your best interest to continue it.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)