Annie's Mailbox Visits are ruined by smoking
Dear Annie: My father-in-law, "Steve," and his wife, "Sally," live several states away and visit us once or twice a year. They are both wonderful people, but Sally is a chain smoker. When Steve first brought Sally to our home, we were incredulous that she lit up inside without first asking if it was OK. (She carries her own ashtray with her.) In fact, she likes to light up at the dinner table, ruining the meal for the rest of us, so we have to eat quickly when she's here.
Other than the cigarettes, Sally is a lovely person, and our kids adore her. She and Steve never stay more than a few days, and we air out the house after they leave. However, we recently built a new home and would rather not have Sally smoke like a chimney during the entire visit.
I am fairly certain that if we ask her not to smoke in the house, neither Steve nor Sally will visit anymore, which would sadden all of us. Having them stay at a hotel is irrelevant because Sally still smokes when she comes to the house. We've also noticed Steve has been having some respiratory illnesses, and although we told him the smoke is probably making it worse, nothing changed.
Do you think we should say something or just continue as we have been? I hate that our decision could affect how much time our children get to spend with their grandfather. Smoker's D-I-L
Dear D-I-L: Sally is quite addicted. Try approaching her with love. Tell her you think she is a wonderful person and your children adore her. Explain that you know how important smoking is to her and you have no intention of asking her to give it up, but you are trying to maintain a better environment in your new home and it would be healthier for the children if she could smoke outside. We hope she'll have enough respect for you that she will make the effort.
Dear Annie: I am 14 years old and think I should get a bra. The problem is, I don't know how to tell my mother. The first time I had my period, it took me five hours before I worked up the nerve to tell her.
I've given Mom hints that I need some "support," but she doesn't get it. Should I just save up some money and purchase one myself? Too Embarrassed to Ask
Dear Too Embarrassed: Do you have a sister or a close friend who can help you out? Your mom sounds oblivious, so you need to be more direct with her. Say, "Mom, can you help me pick out a bra?" If you cannot do this, or if Mom ignores you, it's OK to select one on your own.
You can find tips for measuring yourself on the Internet, or you can ask a salesperson, a friend or another relative to help. If that's too embarrassing, try on a few brassieres until one feels right.
Dear Annie: My wife recently was diagnosed with lymphoma and is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments. We have dear family and friends who have put together a schedule of meals to bring to our house over the next four months, which has been a godsend. In fact, I would strongly suggest this gesture to family and friends of cancer patients who want to know what they can do to help.
My question is this: What would be a proper "thank you" in return for this kindness? A Friend in Need
Dear Friend in Need: You are fortunate to have such caring people around you. Send each person an individual note, telling them how much their efforts have meant to you. We hope your wife gets better soon, and when she does, you might consider having a little get-together to celebrate her recovery.
XE-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, Ill. 60611.