DEAR ABBY: Our kids have decided not to have kids. Although we have no choice but to accept it, and would never express our disappointment or lay a guilt trip on them, we still have feelings about it. It's our biggest sadness.
All the people we know have grandchildren. At holidays they have toys to buy, cookies to bake, dinners to plan. Our friends and relatives tell us that because we won't have grandkids we can buy ourselves something extra-special. It doesn't make us feel any better.
An entire chapter of our lives will be missing. No one will call us "Grandma" or "Grandpa." Are our feelings legitimate, or are we whining about nothing? -- NOBODY'S GRANDMA
DEAR NOBODY'S GRANDMA: You are whining about something. However, if you feel left out because you won't be buying toys at holiday time, baking cookies and being called "Grandma" and "Grandpa," I have a suggestion for you. "Adopt" a needy family with small children and assume that role. You need only look as far as your nearest homeless shelter, program for abused women, or ask someone in Social Services to find one for you. I guarantee you'll be greeted with open arms and open hearts.
DEAR ABBY: My mother is a hardworking farm woman in her early 60s who never bothered to take care of her skin. She recently went through menopause, and now her face looks much older than her years.
Mom is a good person. Every wrinkle and laugh line has been well-earned. However, several people have made comments to her like, "What happened to you? You look terrible!"
How should Mom respond to this? I suggested she say with smile, "I'm getting old, and I look it!" She feels that would be too harsh. Do you have a more subtle answer for these insensitive people? -- PROUDLY AGING, READING, MINN.
DEAR PROUDLY AGING: There's an old saying: "It takes an enemy and a friend to hurt you to the core. The enemy to slander you, and the friend to get the 'news' to you." Your suggested response to the tactless individuals who would say such a thing to your mother isn't "harsh" -- it's right on target. If your mother tried for something more subtle, the people wouldn't get the message.
DEAR ABBY: My brother "Albert's" in-laws charge him and his new wife to attend family events. Example: When they are invited to the in-laws' lake house, they must bring $20 to cover the gas for the boat. Last Christmas they were charged $10 apiece for the family's annual shrimp boil, and $50 for a grandparent's birthday party.
The in-laws are not poor. They could well afford to host these events for their relatively small family. Albert and his wife, however, are newlyweds. They don't have a lot of spare cash. Nevertheless, their attendance at these family events is expected.
I believe to charge a guest money to attend a gathering like this is a social blunder. Albert says that's the price of marrying into the family. What do you think, Abby? -- PROTECTIVE SIBLING, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
DEAR PROTECTIVE SIBLING: Considering the fact that the in-laws have money, the practice is certainly unusual. However, your brother knew what he was getting into when he married into this family, and you should M.Y.O.B.
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