Dear Annie: My friend bought a condo in Florida. She wants me to come stay for a week while she is there but thinks she needs to charge me $350 to stay with her. Why would a friend need to charge you if she is there, too? If I chip in for some food, what am I paying $350 for? Is this fair? -- Feeling Used
Dear Feeling Used: It does not seem right to me to ask that of a friend. If it were a vacation rental and you were splitting the cost, sure. But this is a condo she owns, and she's invited you to come visit. Perhaps the strain of the cost of the condo was more than she fully realized it would be; that's the only plausible explanation I can think of for her charging a fee. Regardless, treating friends like customers is no way to pay the mortgage. If she is looking to make $350 a week off houseguests, she should open a bed-and-breakfast.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Family Matters," whose son and daughter-in-law have not yet invited her to their new home, and I related completely. You are absolutely right; giving the benefit of the doubt is very important in this situation, and I love what you had to say. But time may not change much, either. I have a similar situation. My son and daughter-in-law spend virtually every holiday with her family.
I have also gotten very blue over this and felt very slighted and had my feelings hurt. But I finally decided that is completely pointless. Dwelling on hurt and anger breeds more hurt and anger. My husband and I have started our own tradition of combining Christmas and Thanksgiving and having a family dinner at our home between those holidays. We try to plan it early and give all of our family members time to work it into their holiday schedules. I don't ever fix turkey and dressing, because it's a lot of work and everyone's had it recently. So the meal is simpler, which saves work and stress, leaving time to enjoy the day. I invite everyone to bring a dish, but I let everyone know it's not necessary.
My perspective has changed. I no longer focus on being slighted or alone with my husband during the holidays. It's our time to do what we want and give to others through charity or goodwill. Our dinner with the family is all about stress-free fun -- enjoying the family, the grandkids and the day, guilt-free. I have a much better attitude, I get to host in my own home, and I get to make our own tradition. And there's a lot less work. It's fun, and I am all about fun at this age. Happy holidays! -- Working on Me
Dear Working on Me: Your good spirit is contagious. Thanks for serving up some perspective with an extra helping of holiday cheer.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.