DEAR HARRIETTE: Ever since my mother passed away last summer, there has been a strain in my relationship with the rest of my family. My family had a cookout yesterday, and they did not call to invite my sister and me. I found out about the cookout via Facebook when a cousin posted a picture from the event. I thought about leaving a nasty comment on my cousin's page, but I didn't. It would have been nice to have been invited to the cookout.
I would like to know why they didn't invite us. It is true that they don't always invite us to everything, but I looked at the pictures, and we were conspicuously absent. I'm afraid for what is going to happen next month when my grandmother has her birthday. She lives with them. What if we aren't invited to her celebration? -- Need Some Clarity, Memphis, Tenn.
DEAR NEED SOME CLARITY: I wonder if you had a strained relationship with other family members before your mother passed. I ask that because it does seem odd that suddenly they would exclude you from activities.
Think back on your history with them. You already mentioned that they haven't always invited you to every event. That could be natural and not exclusionary. Even with good friends, not everyone is invited every time. Were there any unresolved issues with various family members? If so, you may want to mend those fences now.
As for your grandmother and her celebration, be proactive. Contact the person who is taking care of your grandmother and ask if plans are under way for a birthday party. Volunteer to participate in the planning, and immediately get involved. Make it clear that you want to be an active part of your extended family.
I don't think it's necessary to ask why you weren't invited to the cookout. Use this moment as a chance to strengthen your bond with the rest of your family members. Stay in closer touch, and make it known that you want to be part of their lives.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I sold a friend two holiday gifts that I had made, and he asked to pay me back the next day because he didn't have cash with him at the time. It's summer now, and I still haven't gotten my money.
I have called and emailed, but mostly he ducks me. Once I was able to get him on the phone and he apologized, promising that the money would be forthcoming. But it hasn't been.
What can I do? I made those gifts by hand so that I could earn some extra money. I am so angry. -- Duped, Salt Lake City
DEAR DUPED: The most important thing for you to know for the future is not to give people credit when they are making purchases from you -- regardless of your relationship. As far as this man goes, send him a formal invoice with a 10 percent late fee. You may not get paid, but you will have followed up professionally.