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Woman concerned when in-laws monopolize holidays

Staff report

Dear Annie: My husband's family came to town for a week over the holidays. We made plans to be with them every evening except one. My parents were in the final stages of a job relocation and were leaving town that same weekend. We gave my family the one evening, Sunday, that was not delegated to my in-laws.

My husband's parents asked us twice to go out to dinner with them and their friends on that same evening. We politely declined both times, explaining that we had plans. That Sunday morning, we found out that my in-laws had made dinner reservations for us anyway. Somehow, to my husband, this meant we had to reconsider our options. I thought it was extremely rude.

After several hours of arguing, my husband and I compromised by saying we would go to dinner with his parents, eat quickly and then spend the rest of the evening with my parents. Well, dinner was a disaster. One couple was an hour late, and my in-laws insisted on waiting for them. Then, my husband and I, along with his brother, were put at the "children's" table with three kids under the age of 13. After we finally managed to leave, we ran to my parents' house only to find everyone else had gone.

My husband considers this a successful outcome, but I do not. My family was deeply offended by my in-laws' usurping our only evening together. Am I crazy to think he should have honored the original plans?

- Still Angry

Dear Still: Your husband is wrong to think your plans should be changed because someone else rearranged them without your knowledge or permission. He obviously wanted to spend time with his family and not yours, which was unfair under the circumstances. When you agreed to attend his family's dinner, you also should have set a time to leave and done so, regardless of where you were in the meal.

A better compromise would have been for him to have dinner with his folks while you spent the time with yours. While not ideal, it would have been better than anger, resentment and an argument. Now let it go. You'll do better next time.

Dear Annie: My grandma died six months ago, and I miss her more than anything. Life just isn't the same without her.

I'm only 13 years old, and this confuses me. I'm mad at God for taking my grandma from me. My friends say I haven't been the same, that I'm gloomy and moody and have a short temper.

My sister shows hardly any emotion, but I can't think about my grandma without crying. I feel like I'm taking too long in my grieving process. Am I? Do you have any suggestions?

- Crying Granddaughter

Dear Crying: We are so sorry to hear about your grandma. Obviously, you were close to her and miss her terribly. There is no set timetable for grieving, and some people take longer than others. However, if you haven't managed to move beyond your initial depressed state for six months, please ask your parents to make an appointment for you to see your doctor and a grief counselor, and perhaps discuss this with your clergyperson to understand how God could take your grandma from you. Talking to others who are trained to discuss your grief can help enormously.

Dear Annie: The 42-year-old lady who said she doesn't have many friends and never could read body language well has classic symptoms of Asperger syndrome (recently renamed high-functioning autism).

My son wasn't diagnosed until he was 17, and it has made a world of difference. He was always a bit quirky -- a round peg in a square hole. Most people with Asperger's are highly intelligent and dependable and find it difficult to lie because they see the world very literally.

- HFA Mom

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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