Dear Annie: I have a sibling who struggles with an eating disorder. I give her constant love and support and do everything I can to help her. I’ve heard that Thanksgiving and Christmas pose challenges for people with eating disorders, as people are expected — and even pressured — to eat more than usual. How can I help my sister feel calmer on such food-centric holidays? I want to make the season happy for her.

 — Supportive Sibling

Dear Supportive Sibling: Your signature says it all. Support, love and patience are exactly what your sister needs. Having concern is one of the most important things you can do for her. Tell her that you are sensitive to the fact that Thanksgiving and Christmas sit-down meals will pose a challenge. Sometimes the very acknowledgment of someone’s feelings can make all the difference.

Maybe you could establish a safe word with her at the table. For example, if she starts to feel uncomfortable or if a guest comments on how much or how little she is eating, she could start talking about the weather. It would not only change the subject after an insensitive comment but also clue you in to the fact that she’s feeling uncomfortable. You could help her carry the conversation forward.

Dear Annie: I’d like to respond to the letter from “Confused at the Counter.” You were so right that servers make their living on tips. I am through college and no longer have to depend on tips to live.

“Confused at the Counter” was confused about why there’s a tip line on one’s receipt while getting takeout. The person at the takeout counter takes your call and then proceeds to put together your order, the same as a server would for someone dining in. This person makes sure all your requested extras are there, makes your salad, etc. Basically, this person does the same job as a server at a table; there are just no refills on your tea, because you leave.

This job is very difficult because people don’t tip. They think that their food magically gets in to-go boxes and that all the extra ranch and hot sauces hop in for a free ride!

I had four nurses who worked the night shift regularly call a few minutes before closing and order huge takeout orders to sustain them through the night. I would have to get everything back out, and the cooks would grumble. One of the nurses would swing in, grab the to-go bags, pay and leave no tip, and we were all late on closing. I’m very thankful I don’t have to do that job anymore. I hope “Confused at the Counter” understands and knows that I always tip!

 — Former Food Worker

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