DEAR ABBY: These will be the first holidays for my husband and me since we discovered that his sister, "Dawn," embezzled more than $200,000 from our business. It happened over a period of three years, when Dawn was our bookkeeper. Actually, our overall losses were even greater, because of her frivolous spending, "company write-offs" and bad management.
We knew something was terribly wrong. We just didn't know it was Dawn until she was caught.
She has since gotten another job in another state and is slowly paying us back. However, it will be a couple of decades before we're fully repaid -- if ever. Dawn has asked us not to tell anyone. She got off easy, and I don't believe that she's fully aware of the depth of the damage she left behind.
Fortunately, since Dawn's departure, there is peace in the office and the business is going well once again. But I am still hurt and offended by her deception.
I think I deserve a happy holiday season. Am I justified in avoiding her? Or should I just "grin and bear it" at the upcoming family get-together? -- STILL ANGRY IN MARYLAND
DEAR STILL ANGRY: I assume from your letter that the rest of the family knows nothing about the money your sister-in-law stole, and that she plans to attend the family gatherings.
Are you justified in avoiding her? Absolutely! Unless you're sure you can refrain from losing your temper(s) and spilling the beans, I'd advise you to make other plans this Christmas. However, unless you are prepared to boycott every celebration Dawn attends, you are going to have to learn to tolerate her at some point. Keep in mind, she is making restitution -- however slowly -- and that's a step in the right direction.