Dear Annie: An acquaintance of mine (I'll call her "Minnie") drops by our home once a week and stays for several hours. If we offer her a beer, she protests a little bit, but then says, "Well, OK," and then asks what kind of wine or liquor we have. She somehow makes it seem as though she is doing us a favor by accepting what we offer and then lets us know about the better alcohol she is accustomed to.
Our neighbor told us that Minnie does the same thing at her place, always promising to bring something special to reciprocate, but she never does. The neighbor laughs it off, but we feel like suckers. Minnie talks about cutting back on alcohol to lose weight, but it's obvious she'll drink if it's free.
Other than not answering the door when Minnie shows up, is there a way to confront her without making her belligerent? We see each other and don't want hard feelings. — Tired of Sponger
Dear Tired: If you don't want Minnie drinking your booze, stop offering it to her. You can open the door and be polite and friendly but not ask whether she'd like a beer. If she says she's thirsty, offer her a cool glass of water. You don't have to confront her at all or create any hard feelings. You simply need to be less accommodating. We suspect after a few such dry visits, she will spend less time knocking on your door.
Dear Annie: As the holidays approach, so does gift giving. This is one of my favorite holiday traditions. I am not well off by any means, and my gifts usually consist of thoughtful homemade items. I love seeing the recipients open the gifts, watching their surprise and delight, and knowing they feel special because I have put so much thought into personalizing their present.
Here's the dilemma: Many of my family members are well off, yet I rarely receive gifts from them. I get flimsy excuses instead. I normally say "OK" and brush it off, but after years of this dismissive behavior, I am not sure I can continue to keep giving, giving, giving, especially when it is difficult for me financially.
I don't give presents with the expectation that I will get something in return, but once in a while, I would certainly appreciate feeling the same way my recipients do when opening a gift. I'd like to know what that's like.
Should I stop giving my homemade items to stingy family members and sell them instead? — Torn in Pennsylvania
Dear Torn: Are you certain your family members truly enjoy these presents? Not everyone appreciates a homemade item, and you may be misinterpreting their response. Even so, they should reciprocate in some way for your generosity. You certainly ought to stop giving them personalized gifts that you cannot afford. Either bake some cookies, or use your creativity for a holiday card and stop giving gifts altogether. The choice is yours.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Frustrated Mom," whose daughter is overweight. In my teens, I was 15 pounds overweight, and my mother harped on my eating constantly. But I showed her! By the time I was 67, I was 200 pounds overweight. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and could barely walk.
Sixteen months ago, I had gastric bypass surgery and have lost 162 pounds. My surgeon said, "You are a success story." Never again can I enjoy the sinfully rich food I used to, but my cholesterol, blood pressure and arthritis are under control.
I think of food all day. Not because I want it so badly, but because I have to plan my day around it. My stomach is the size of an egg, but I'm healthier, happier, have a new wardrobe and love it when people say I look fabulous. I will live to see my grandkids marry. — Blessed in California
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.