DEAR HARRIETTE: I send care packages filled with all kinds of clothes and other goodies to my family members down south. It gives me great joy to put together these boxes, even though most of them are so-called hand-me-downs. My husband and I figured that we were giving away old clothes and electronics to charity when we could give them to family who would benefit from them. The weird thing is that they rarely let us know that they got the packages, let alone if they liked anything. I sent a text the other day just to check on whether my family received the most recent box and got an earful about how much fun it was to open and figure out what each of them wanted. How can I get them to say they got the package at the very least? Their indifference makes me want to just send to charity again. – Ungrateful, Jackson, Mississippi

DEAR UNGRATEFUL: Be direct with your family. Tell them that you enjoy sending them care packages but you need to know that they have received them. Ask them to agree to let you know when the packages arrive. If they fail to do so, you can decide how to proceed. Even charities say thank you, so you are not wrong to expect an acknowledgment of receipt.

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DEAR HARRIETTE: My girlfriends and I can meet up only once or twice a year – if we’re lucky – so we take our yearly vacation to Miami very seriously. I struggled financially this past year due to my husband and me being unexpectedly laid off. When my friends learned of this, they pulled together to pay for my ticket. Thankfully, I have now been chosen for a new opportunity that’s even better than the last one. The problem is they need me to start the week we had scheduled the retreat, and we are less than two weeks out from the trip. I spent so much time looking for a job that I know it would be foolish for me to pass this up. However, the last thing I want to do is screw my friends out of the money they spent on me. How can I break it to them without damaging my friendships? – Double- Edged Sword, Dallas

DEAR DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD: This is a tricky situation. I would first ask the new employer if there’s any chance you can start one week later. You can explain that you have planned a trip for quite some time that is already paid for. If they would allow it, you would greatly appreciate being able to honor the commitment you have made. Obviously, make it clear that you are not making an ultimatum. You are simply telling them the truth. You never know what they may say.

If the answer is no, go to your friends and tell them the truth. While they will be disappointed, they surely will have to understand. What you then should try to do is get a refund for the ticket, or, at the very least, get the airline to give you a credit so that the ticket isn’t totally wasted. You will have to apologize profusely, but after a while, your friends should be able to accept the bittersweet reality of your good fortune. When you can, be sure to pay them back.

— Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.