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by Abigail Van Buren

Guests at Mountain Getaway Come up Short on Gratitude

DEAR ABBY: Years ago, I bought a beautiful little cottage in the North Carolina mountains as a second home. I feel very lucky to be able to afford such a luxury and have always been generous, sharing it with family and friends. However, it has reached the point where people constantly ask to use it.

Abby, my guests have left holes in cushions, bubble gum on couches and someone's child even peed in the bed. Only once in 10 years was I left with a thank-you note and a gift card to a local store. Most of the time I find a bottle of cheap wine. (I don't drink.)

How can I stop this? I'm being taken advantage of. I know I'm partly at fault for being so generous. This cottage was bought for me, my children and grandchildren to enjoy. -- TOO GENEROUS

DEAR TOO GENEROUS: People can be taken advantage of only if they allow it. You need to learn to say no. And when (not if) you are asked why you no longer allow friends and family to use the cottage in your absence, tell the individuals exactly what you have told me about your reasons.

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