DEAR HARRIETTE: I spend a lot of time by myself, which I prefer. I moved back home a few years ago to take care of some family business after my mother died. Though I have some family here, I don’t see them much. They have invited me to come spend time with them over the holidays, which is nice and all, but I don’t really want to do it. They have a big family, and it brings back a lot of uncomfortable memories that are extra hard for me now that all of my immediate family is gone. How can I continue to do what I want -- to lie low -- without offending them? -- Bowing Out, Detroit
DEAR BOWING OUT: Thank your family for always including you in their celebrations. Express how much you appreciate them thinking of you. Tell them that this year you will not be attending their events. You don’t have to explain why. You can simply decline their invitation -- graciously. Know that one day they may stop inviting you if you never go. Know, too, that getting out and being with family, even if they are a bustling one, may be good for you. You don’t have to like every aspect of the experience, but you may find joy in the camaraderie.