Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Friend Lashes Out Over Husband’s Medical Issues

DEAR HARRIETTE: My in-laws are Jehovah’s Witnesses. That means that at the holidays, we end up not spending much time together. We don’t want to be insensitive to their values, which require that they not celebrate holidays, but we miss not spending time with them. Lots of family members come to town for about a week, and we struggle with how to include them. As my in-laws are getting older, we want to figure out a way to include them more in family activities. Any ideas? -- Family Ties

DEAR FAMILY TIES: If your family members are together for a week, map out a range of activities that are not holiday specific. While you may organize a special meal for the holiday to which they would not be invited, you can plan a family gathering the next day that is just to get together.

If you believe your in-laws would appreciate gifts that are not tied to a celebration, encourage family members who are coming from out of town to bring tokens of love for them, and those of you in town can make or buy something special for them. Call them “I love you” gifts.

Consider that you can fill your week with many special moments that include your in-laws if you start thinking of the gathering as family time rather than holiday time.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)