Dear Abby: We don’t eat cookies, but sister-in-law sends some each year anyway

Some in the family feel bad that she spends a lot of time and money on the treats, but no one talks to her about it.

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DEAR ABBY: Every year for the last 15 years or so, my husband’s sister has sent us a huge box of homemade cookies for Christmas. My husband is from a large family, and she does this for each family. I know it involves a great deal of time and effort on her part, and she sends them via priority mail, which means an additional expense.

The problem is, we don’t eat cookies. Weight is a concern for both of us, and I avoid sugar or sugar products as I don’t believe they are healthy. Before we retired, we took the cookies to work to get rid of them or they were thrown out.

Many years ago, I asked my mother-in-law what to do so as to not cause hard feelings. She advised, “Don’t say anything; she needs something to keep her busy.” I then asked a brother-in-law how he handled the unwanted cookies. He said, “Throw them away or give them away, but DON’T TELL HER.”

My SIL suffers from mild depression, and everyone tiptoes lightly around the issue to avoid upsetting her. I feel bad that she has spent time and money on these unwanted cookies all these years.

No one on that side of the family has ever said anything, and perhaps, many of them enjoy the cookies. Evidently even a carefully worded “thank you, but we can’t consume them” note would cause family problems. I tried not sending an acknowledgment; the cookies kept coming. What’s your suggestion? — SWEET PROBLEM IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR SWEET PROBLEM: I suggest you keep things the way they are. Your sister-in-law needs something to occupy her mind and give her a sense of purpose during a time of year when people can become depressed. Get creative. Those cookies might be appreciated by a church group, a residence for seniors or even holiday gifts for your neighbors if you repackage them.

DEAR ABBY: My 22-year-old daughter asked if her 23-year-old best friend could stay with us for six months. Her friend’s parents had to return to Europe to finish wrapping up some things and then would return for their citizenship appointments, so we agreed to the arrangement. Rent-free, because we are nice.

My daughter got a school offer in Houston and moved there in May. Now it’s just her best friend and us at the house. Well, COVID-19 happened, and the parents are banned from entering the U.S. They have asked us if she can stay until the ban is lifted, which who knows when this will happen. We agreed, but now it’s November.

I miss my personal space, and I need her to move out. I feel she has overstayed. But I don’t know how to approach her or her family and say this arrangement will end soon. How should I handle this? — CROWDED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR CROWDED: You have been more than generous to your daughter’s best friend, and I hope your generosity has been appreciated not only by her but also her parents. She is an adult, and she needs to be told the arrangement she had with you is coming to an end. Set a date for her to leave and notify her parents that they may need to make other living arrangements for her if she can’t do it herself.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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