DEAR HARRIETTE: I go home for the holidays every Christmas as I did this year, but I didn't get to see all of my family and friends. I always try to see everybody, but time got by me this year. I spent quality time with my mom and siblings, which was really special, but I didn't have enough time to visit some of the high school friends I normally see. I'm the one who usually drives to everybody's house, and I didn't do it this time. Meanwhile, I have already gotten a couple of snippy texts from friends I didn't get to visit. I feel bad that I didn't make it to all of them this time, but I also feel like it would be nice if any of them would take the initiative to come to me. How can I fix this so that I don't feel guilty or responsible for making it all happen whenever I come to town? I'm only human, after all. -- Only Human, Syracuse, New York
DEAR ONLY HUMAN: It sounds like you have set yourself up to be the one who is available. If your friends have always expected you to show up at their door, you cannot legitimately be mad at them for being disappointed when you failed to do so.
If you now believe you want to modify your engagement with others when you come home, you have to retrain everybody -- starting with yourself. In the future, decide in advance what you believe you want to do. If your friends are also friendly with each other, you may want to suggest that you all gather on a particular day at a local watering hole or restaurant. Those who can come will, and you will have one place to go rather than feeling like you have to travel all over the city. You can also tell your friends that you would be happy for them to come to visit you, provided that your family is OK with that.
In the here and now, reach out to the people you did not get to see. Apologize for not making it to them. Let them know that next time you come home you plan on changing the tradition so that you get to see everybody without wearing yourself out.