DEAR ABBY: For the last 10 years, a family of four has come to our home for every Christmas and Easter meal. It started when my wife invited a co-worker. They had no family in town and nowhere else to go.

My wife’s relationship with the woman has cooled, but the family assumes they are automatically invited and show up without being asked. They spend more time talking to our other family members than they do to us.

How do I politely let them know we no longer wish for them to come to our family meals?

— FAMILY ONLY IN MISSISSIPPI

DEAR FAMILY ONLY: Your wife should tell her coworker that your plans for the holidays have changed, that the two of you are scaling back the festivities to include ONLY FAMILY MEMBERS.

She should be sure to convey this news in PLENTY of time for her co-worker to make other arrangements — whether it will be preparing something herself or getting together with another family. NOW would be a perfect time to do it.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to be fluent in another foreign language, but I don’t have enough time to practice the language. What could I possibly do?

— RAFAELA IN BRAZIL

DEAR RAFAELA: Regardless of what language you want to learn, it won’t be possible unless you are willing (and able) to put in the time to practice. If I were in your situation, I’d take a basic grammar class in the language, then try to find exchange students who speak it and spend time with them. And if you’re not married and find an attractive man among them, that will give you even more incentive.

DEAR ABBY: I have been living on my own for three years. I recently moved back to my hometown and share a great apartment with my best friend from childhood.

My mother has had a serious alcohol problem for as long as I can remember. She will be moving back to the area next month for a new job. Dad couldn’t get a job transfer, so he’ll have to stay at their current house, which is five hours away.

I love Mom, but I’m very worried because I will be her closest family member location wise. Her drinking has grown progressively worse over the last few years and has been the cause of three major surgeries. If something happens while she’s living on her own, I don’t know what I’ll do.

Talking to my family is useless. It gets brushed aside because they don’t want to deal with the pain after all these years. Do you have any suggestions to make this transition easier?

— HEAVY-HEARTED DAUGHTER IN VIRGINIA

DEAR HEAVY-HEARTED: For the sake of your sanity, you must not assume responsibility for your mother’s drinking problem. Before she arrives, it would be helpful for you to attend some Al- Anon meetings or visit a chapter of Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization. They can help you to maintain your emotional equilibrium as well as share experiences that will help you to cope with her without being overwhelmed.

Al-Anon should be listed in your phone directory because it is everywhere, or you can visit www.Al-Anon- FamilyGroups.org. The website for Adult Children of Alcoholics is www.adultchildren.org.

DEAR ABBY: My motherin law tends to embrace every pitiful creature she comes into contact with. This Thanksgiving she has invited my ex-boyfriend and his wife to her home to share in the festivities. My ex was abusive to me most of the time, and we did not end on good terms. The woman he cheated on me with is now his wife.

My ex was sneaky and manipulative, and I believe his only reason for wanting to be there is to check up on me and my husband. I have explained this to my husband and his mother, and told them I don’t feel comfortable with the situation. They both told me I am “overreacting” and that he was a part of my past and I have since moved on.

I feel the family I love has betrayed me. The idea of my ex being involved in what should be a comfortable family day has me afraid and uneasy. AM I overreacting? Or is my husband’s mother being unreasonable?

— DREADING THANKSGIVING

DEAR DREADING THANKSGIVING: I do not think you are overreacting. It was insensitive of your mother-in-law to invite your abusive ex and his wife to the gathering without first checking with you. While you may have moved on, I can see why this would not be something you would look forward to. Frankly, it’s surprising that your mother-inlaw would even know your ex — let alone invite him to her home.


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