Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Befuddled Grandma

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I have two young granddaughters who live on opposite sides of the country. They are both in elementary school. "Harper" has tree nut allergies. Tree nuts are hidden in many things, including anything with sesame. In many cases, nut-free items are processed in the same plants where tree nuts are processed, making them unsafe even though there are no nuts in them. Simple things like store-bought pastries, flour, ice cream and dried fruit can all be contaminated. When we get together, making sure each girl gets some treats becomes a huge undertaking. "Cyndi" often doesn't get her favorite foods because Harper cannot eat them.

Both families visited last week and I had promised Cyndi a special treat, which she always gets when she is here alone. Unfortunately, I was unable to purchase the treat until after Harper had arrived. So I asked my daughter what kind of treat I could get for Harper so that both girls would have something. She became upset, saying I should have purchased the same treat for both girls so that Harper didn't feel bad.

This is causing friction in the family and I feel caught in the middle. Harper has a new baby sister who doesn't have allergies, so I'm curious how my daughter will handle this when the baby realizes she can only eat what her older sister eats. We understand the severity of the allergies, but we also have three granddaughters and need to know how to handle the food situation in the future. -- Befuddled Grandma

Dear Befuddled: When Harper is visiting, you must keep your home nut free because those types of allergies can be life threatening. There are nut-free treats that all of the kids can enjoy, or ask your daughter to bring some. Save the other treats for visits when Harper is not present. She should not feel ostracized or deprived of special time with Grandma because of her allergy. As she gets older and spends more time in the company of others, Harper will learn coping strategies that will allow for greater social interaction while remaining safe. We know it's complicated and more work for you, but this is your grandchild, and right now she needs your protection.

Dear Annie: I read the recent letter from "Confused and Torn," who was having trouble letting go of her beloved Pomeranian, "Clover."

I am retired now, but for many years I was involved with grief management for both human and pet loss. My last writing project was "Is it Time to Say Goodbye?" which is a guide for helping pet owners make a difficult decision about their pets. I gave all rights to the local medical hospital that has a comfort pet program and to other groups that work with vets and animal care. It is free. I get absolutely nothing from it except the benefit of knowing that I have helped thousands of people.


Please let your readers know about it, and keep up the good service that you do. -- Tim O'Brien

Dear Tim O'Brien: Thank you so much. We took a look at your 80-page booklet and found it extremely thorough and informative. Unfortunately, the link is too long for our editors to print. Readers, simply Google, "Tim O'Brien Is It Time to Say Goodbye" and it will pop up. Promise.


"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




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