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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom's Kitchen Floor Remedy Is Embarrassing to Daughter

DEAR ABBY: My aunt and uncle are "large" people. In the past we have had to be extremely cautious about where they sit when they come visit. Our furniture is mostly hand-me-downs and not overly sturdy.

They have, on occasion, broken the furniture because of their weight. We have had to have our kitchen chairs reglued, and once a chair was destroyed beyond repair. They have never ever offered to make amends for the furniture they have damaged.

We are about to order a new dining room set and living room furniture. Naturally, we don't want these broken. My husband has suggested giving them only sturdy folding chairs to sit on, but I don't want to embarrass them or make them feel unwelcome.

Is there a way to protect our furniture without hurting or offending my aunt and uncle? We don't have the money to constantly replace broken items. -- STRICTLY ANONYMOUS IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR STRICTLY ANONYMOUS: To drag out folding chairs for your aunt and uncle to use would be glaringly obvious. Consider buying a couple of sturdy chairs (and possibly have them reinforced with metal bracing) for them. When you know they're coming, "guide" them toward the chairs you want them to use. If you are questioned about it, explain (kindly) that in the past your chairs have been broken or needed repair -- so these were bought with them in mind because they are sturdier and you want them to be comfortable.

If they take offense, then please realize that the problem is theirs. To prepare for guests with "special needs" is an example of good hospitality, not rudeness.