Dear Annie: Christmas is around the corner, and my mother has asked me to host Christmas at my house. (Roughly 30 people will be there.) I do not feel my house is big enough, and hosting an event at my house gives me extreme anxiety! I hosted last year, but only because I was guilted into doing so. My house is just average size, but it’s the largest of my sisters’ and mother’s. While everyone seems to be having a good time, I’m constantly worried about how cramped we are, how messy my house is getting, if there’s enough food, etc.
I can’t enjoy myself. I really do not want to host again, but don’t know what to tell them. Please help.
— Not Feeling the Christmas Spirit
Dear Not Feeling: The magic word is “No.” It really is that simple. And though you truly don’t owe anyone an explanation, you have an easy one to reach for, if you must: You hosted last year. It’s someone else’s turn. Let them huff, hem and haw, and sort it out amongst themselves. But stand your ground. If you agree to host again and end up resentful, you’ll only have yourself to blame.
Dear Annie: I’m trying to figure out how the dynamics of the dating world work. I’m 62. I met a lady not long ago and she seems really interested in me. In my younger years, I might have flirted back and encouraged the young lady’s affections. But at my age, I’m not interested in leading anyone on. I would like to just be friends with this woman. If she wants more, what should I do?
— Not Interested
Dear Not Interested: The kindest thing that you can do is to nip this woman’s interest in the bud before it blossoms into a bigger crush. The next time you’re speaking with her one-on-one, whether in person or over the phone, gently say something to the effect of: “I feel I should mention that I’m not interested in dating, but I think you’re terrific and would love to become better friends, if you’re up for that.” Will it be slightly awkward? Yes, but only for a moment, and you’ll breathe easier afterward knowing you’ve been honest.
Dear Annie: Recently, you responded to a reader with some walking tips for safety. Please add that walkers should wear reflective clothing so that they will be seen. (White/light-colored clothing does not count as reflective.) Far too often, when driving to and from work, I see people out walking in dark-colored clothing. The only reason I haven’t hit one is that I am paying close attention. This is especially important with time changes and longer periods of darkness.
I wear a reflective vest and my dog wears a flashing reflective harness when we walk. I’d rather be safe than sorry.
— MJ from Massachusetts
Dear MJ from Massachusetts: Indeed your advice is especially relevant as we’ve now entered those dreadful months when it’s dark by 5 p.m. Reflective vests are affordable (around $8 online and at stores such as Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods) yet priceless in the protection they might afford. I love that you have a reflective harness for your pup, as well, and would encourage anyone who walks a dog at night to take such measures.
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