DEAR ABBY: Every year for the last 15 years or so, my husband's sister has sent us a huge box of homemade cookies for Christmas. My husband is from a large family, and she does this for each family. I know it involves a great deal of time and effort on her part, and she sends them via priority mail, which means an additional expense.
The problem is, we don't eat cookies. Weight is a concern for both of us, and I avoid sugar or sugar products as I don't believe they are healthy. Before we retired, we took the cookies to work to get rid of them or they were thrown out.
Many years ago, I asked my mother-in-law what to do so as to not cause hard feelings. She advised, "Don't say anything; she needs something to keep her busy." I then asked a brother-in-law how he handled the unwanted cookies. He said, "Throw them away or give them away, but don't tell her."
My SIL suffers from mild depression, and everyone tiptoes lightly around the issue to avoid upsetting her. I feel bad that she has spent time and money on these unwanted cookies all these years.
No one on that side of the family has ever said anything, and perhaps, many of them enjoy the cookies. Evidently even a carefully worded "thank you, but we can't consume them" note would cause family problems. I tried not sending an acknowledgment; the cookies kept coming. What's your suggestion? -- SWEET PROBLEM IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR SWEET PROBLEM: I suggest you keep things the way they are. Your sister-in-law needs something to occupy her mind and give her a sense of purpose during a time of year when people can become depressed. Get creative. Those cookies might be appreciated by a church group, a residence for seniors or even holiday gifts for your neighbors if you repackage them.