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Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar


Don't Let Dad Chase Jay Away Dear Annie: I am a female resident physician. In medical school, I fell in love with "Jay," a classmate. We have been together for four years. Jay is currently a resident physician in another state. Two years ago, I brought Jay home to meet my …Read more. Financial Elder Abuse Dear Annie: My mother is 90 years old. She recently loaned one of my nephews a large sum of money to purchase a house. "Todd" and his wife borrowed enough for the house, a new washer and dryer, and then more for homeowners insurance and property …Read more. Grade-School Grudges Dear Annie: I am a 19-year-old full-time college student and I work part-time at a fast food place. I started my job two years ago, and for the most part, I enjoy it and have made several friends. Eight months ago, "Ally" joined our team. I happened …Read more. Forgiveness and Understanding Will Mend Your Family Dear Annie: My father died a year ago. Since then, I have ignored my extended family, but I'm close to my children and grandchildren. Christmas passed and I never phoned my sick mother, even though I live 15 minutes away. I want to make it right, …Read more.
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Little Sister, Big Trouble


Dear Annie: I have three siblings. The youngest sister, "Jess," has always had problems. At 13, she started taking drugs and running away from home. She spent five years in prison, and when she got out, my older sister offered to let Jess live with her so she could get a job and go to school.

Jess was OK for about 18 months. Then she developed back problems and was unable to work. After several disagreements with my sister, she moved out to live with her boyfriend, whom she later married. It's been downhill from there.

A few nights before Thanksgiving, Jess knocked on my door with her husband and their dog. Apparently, they are homeless. Neither of them can stick to a job on a regular basis. I'm sure Jess suffers from some type of mental illness, and now I think her husband does, too. I told Jess she could stay for three months and then would have to leave.

I hope she can get some assistance to help her get back on her feet. Do you have any guidance for me? — Lost and Confused

Dear Lost: It is compassionate of you to take in your sister and her family, but she needs more help than you can give her. The best thing you can do for Jess is to look into local social services that will help her and her husband with mental health counseling, job training and housing. Please contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (, the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development homeless assistance ( and the National Coalition for the Homeless (nationalhomeless. org).

Dear Annie: My 29-year-old stepson refuses to give gifts to family members at Christmas. A few years ago, I asked him why, and he said he doesn't believe in the crass commercialism at Christmas. Yet he and his wife accept gifts from all of us on the holiday.

He also doesn't send a card or phone on his Dad's birthday or mine.

What do we do? Do we respect his views on commercialism and not give him gifts? Do we ignore it and hope he comes around? He and his wife earn plenty of money and can afford it. But that's beside the point. It is the effort and caring that is lacking. — Wondering

Dear Wondering: It is perfectly logical to stop buying presents for him, saying, "We know you don't support the crass commercialism of the holiday, so we are respecting your beliefs and not purchasing any gifts for you." Of course, that won't help the relationship, which seems a little strained. This is your stepson, so Dad should handle it. Has Dad told him how much it would mean to get a call or card on his birthday? Some kids simply don't connect the dots or realize the importance of remembering a loved one's special day. It helps to remind them. Gently.

Dear Annie: This is in response to "PO'd in New York," who said you two "need a lobotomy" for telling readers that doggie paw prints don't belong on a sympathy card.

Annie, I have had pets, mostly cats, since I was 6 years old. I have a pet cemetery in my backyard where five of my beloved cats are buried. I have two pet rescue cats whom I love with all my heart. They are a part of my family. But I would never, ever sign their names or put their paw prints on a sympathy card. In fact, I would be terribly upset if someone sent me a sympathy card with their animal's names and paw prints on it.

I just had to let you know that not every animal lover agrees with "PO'd." — A Cat Lover in Connecticut

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



3 Comments | Post Comment
Lw2 - stop giving him gifts. He said he doesn't believe in the custom of Christmas gift giving, so respect his beliefs and stop. You seem really hung up on gift giving as a way to show something or other. Not everyone feels that way, esp not adults who have enough money to buy whatever they want. Maybe you and the rest of the family should have an honest conversation about which holiday traditions they would like to continue and which they would like to drop.
Comment: #1
Posted by: kai archie
Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:19 PM
LW1 - Your sister's a user. She uses her craziness and the desperate situations she lands herself in to elicit sympathy and "compassion" (and free lodging for herself and whatever dysfunctional pets or husbands she's careening through life with at the moment.) (I expect if she had a pet velociraptor she'd show up with it in tow too.) I know it's hard to turn your back on family, but I would recommend doing so in this case. Absolutely stick to your deadline. when the three months are up, or you will never, ever be rid of her. And don't let her guilt trip you. It sounds like it's her specialty.
Comment: #2
Posted by: sarah morrow
Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:29 PM
LW2 -

So... you equate buying stuff with caring? Ugh.

This issue is rather near to me. I, too, am sick of buying stuff. And I'm sick of getting stuff. All of my family knows this, and on my paternal side, it's great. No one buys much of anything for anyone except for the kids. Christmas becomes about the good times and family.

On my maternal side however, gifts are still given. Mountains of them. And they continue to give things to me despite knowing my opinion on it. Yes, I accept the gifts. What am I going to do, refuse them? I think that would be worse. I don't like going home with bags of stuff I'll need to find places for, and I feel bad knowing I won't use half of the items I received.

So, yeah, respect his wishes. For many people, gifts/items do NOT equal love, so don't take it that way.

For the calling / cards - that's kind of a different issue. I'd mention it to him, that you'd love for him to call. Maybe remind him the week before or whenever you see him. Or call him yourself on the big day. I know it's not quite the same but some people suck at that junk.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Zoe
Sun Jan 25, 2015 10:18 PM
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