Dear Annie: My husband and I are in our late 70s. Although we had a modest income, we managed to send all our children to college, and they now are financially comfortable. We have been retired for several years and are on a limited income.
My children like to come home for every holiday, and we enjoy having them. The problem is the food. They all help with the preparation and clean-up, but menus and shopping have become an obstacle.
As my children marry and have children, it is becoming increasingly difficult to prepare meals for the extended family. One eats only kosher food, another has an allergy to milk, one has high cholesterol, another is diabetic, one hates vegetables, and one is on the South Beach Diet. Some want skim milk, others want soy, and each child wants his favorite soda and favorite cereal. Some eat no breakfast, so they snack or want an early dinner, while others enjoy relaxing over a lengthy breakfast.
Last time they were all here, I ended up spending a whole month’s budget for groceries on one holiday weekend and had a lot of leftovers we did not actually want. So before another big get-together comes around, I wonder if you have any suggestions to keep me from going crazy. — No Place Like Home
Dear No Place: Your house sounds wonderful — warm, friendly and welcoming. Your children will not object to being responsible for their own family quirks if it saves Mom from having a nervous breakdown.
Call your children ahead of time and explain that you can’t wait to see them, but their growing families mean you will need some help. Tell them to bring any special foods that they require. Offer to supply those items that the majority will eat, and announce that meals will be served at regular hours. Those who want to nibble their way through the day should be allowed to do so, provided they do not inconvenience anyone else.
Dear Annie: A few weeks ago, my wife and I celebrated our 20th anniversary. I took her for a romantic dinner and gave her flowers, an exquisite diamond necklace and a sexy little outfit.
The very next day, she exchanged the short skirt and knee-high boots for elastic-waist pants and comfortable shoes. She said her selection was more practical.
My self-esteem is wounded, and right now I’m having a difficult time feeling romantic. I just wanted to let her know I still find her super sexy. What can I do to make her understand? — Somewhere in the USA
Dear Somewhere: You must keep in mind that you see your wife differently than she sees herself. The romance is appreciated. The sexy outfit may have seemed like pressure. Short skirts and high-heeled boots may be her idea of sleazy, not sexy.
While some women enjoy dressing up in a French maid’s outfit, your wife is not comfortable with that. The best way to let her know how you feel is to tell her, and then show her — with affection and tenderness. No Nancy Sinatra boots, please.
Dear Annie: As the proud father of two servicemen, I thank you for helping set people straight as to what constitutes a veteran.
Sadly, some veterans groups believe only those who served in combat are entitled to be called veterans. They once even refused to recognize those who served in Korea and Vietnam, because neither was an officially declared war.
While admission standards are now much broader, some of these organizations continue to discriminate against veterans. — Proud of My Sons
Dear Proud: We understand the justification for making a distinction between those who served under fire and those who didn’t, but often that is simply a roll of the dice. Those who enlist do not always know if they will be sent into combat, but they are still serving their country and deserve veteran status.
“Annie’s Mailbox” is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. 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.