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by Abigail Van Buren

Happy Relationship Threatens to Go Up in Cigarette Smoke

DEAR ABBY: My husband, kids and I fly to the West Coast once a year for either summer vacation or the holidays. As soon as we arrive, my in-laws take me -- "the wife" -- to the grocery store to shop for food and expect me to pay half the bill.

Abby, my in-laws are not hurting for money, and I have never understood this bizarre custom. I don't appreciate getting off a long plane flight to go grocery shopping and incur yet another expense after paying for air travel, etc. I wouldn't dream of doing it to them. Everything is always taken care of before they come to visit us.

Would you consider this poor hospitality on their part, or a difference in cultures -- East Coast formal versus West Coast casual? I am trying to let it go, but it is getting old. -- DREADING NEXT TIME, HAMPTON, VA.

DEAR DREADING: What you have described is not a difference in cultures. Your in-laws may not be hurting for money, but they may be on a budget. Because being taken to the grocery store and asked to pay for half the groceries bothers you, on your next visit have them take their son along so he can have the pleasure. You can't change his parents, so don't let it ruin your visit.