DEAR ABBY: Every year our family gathers at the home of "Aunt Dottie and Uncle Joe" for Christmas dinner. This includes us, our parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and their children. Aunt Dottie and Uncle Joe used to charge only the adults -- the children ate free -- and the adults also brought along bottles of alcohol. Now the charge is per person, so everyone pays.
Abby, we have no choice in the menu. Aunt Dottie and Uncle Joe plan the meal. If they serve something we don't like, or if we can't stay for the whole meal, don't you think we should get at least a partial refund? Shouldn't we have a say in the menu since we pay for our meals? They don't need the money, but they never offer a refund if we eat little or leave early.
I think a better plan would be for all of us to meet in a restaurant for Christmas dinner, so we'd have a choice. What do you think? -- FED UP IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR FED UP: It's unrealistic to expect your aunt and uncle to refund the money for the uneaten food, and having a "committee" create the menu might be more of a hassle for your aunt and uncle than they're willing to accept. Since all of you pay for your own dinner anyway, your suggestion is practical. Mention it to your relatives and see how they react. More than a few may "second" the motion.