Dear Annie: My husband and I love to entertain our friends, and we also are often invited to various events. I have a wonderful aunt who owns an upscale shop in another state. Twice a year, she allows me to choose anything I want at fabulous discounts. She also sends lovely things for my birthday and Christmas.
The problem is that my mother-in-law keeps borrowing my clothes. A year ago, she attended a barbecue at our home and spilled something on her blouse. We are roughly the same size, so I told her to look in my closet for something to change into. Since then, she has been making regular visits to borrow clothes and accessories. She returns some items promptly, but not all. Last summer, she took two of my brand-new outfits and kept them until fall, and I didn't get to wear either one.
My mother-in-law is a lovely woman, and I don't want to cause hurt feelings, but I'm ready to end this practice. She has an ample income and can afford to buy her own things. How can I get her to stop taking mine? -- Secondhand Rose
Dear Rose: We think Mom likes your taste in clothes, knows that you have quality apparel and might be trying, in her misguided way, to bond with you. It's OK to tell her, "I'd rather you didn't borrow that one. I'm planning to wear it this weekend." And it's fine to ask her to return something because you need it for an upcoming event. But also offer to take her shopping so she can "find her own style" and won't feel she must borrow your clothes in order to look chic.
Dear Annie: I am 48, and my sister, "Rhoda," is 64. Thirty years ago, my mother gave her a box of family photos with the understanding that Rhoda would put together a family photo album. I haven't seen the photos since.
Rhoda lives across the country, so it's not like I can pop over and grab the box. She drives here every summer to visit, and although I have asked for the photographs, she has yet to bring them.
Our parents are both dead. My 21-year-old son never met my father, nor has he seen any old pictures of him (or of me). The last time I asked Rhoda about the photos, she had the gall to tell me it was probably better that I didn't have them because I may have lost them. She says she has bought a nice album, but frankly, I'd rather get the whole box of pictures back and make my own.
I am so frustrated. Please help me rescue my memories. -- Getting Negative
Dear Negative: It's quite possible that after 30 years, Rhoda has no idea where those pictures are. Instead of asking for the box (or an imaginary album), suggest she make copies of photographs that include you and also a few of your parents. She could even scan them into her computer and email them to you. If that still doesn't produce results, we recommend a visit to her home. Tell your sister it would be a great time to go through the photographs and reminisce, as well as make copies of the ones you want.
Dear Annie: Please tell "Brown-Eyed Girl" to stop worrying. My very blue-eyed mother and father produced nine children. Six have very blue eyes. Three of us have very brown eyes. -- Not Worried a Bit
Dear Not: Thanks for the backup.
Dear Readers: We are carrying on Ann Landers' tradition that April 2 be set aside as Reconciliation Day, a time to make the first move toward mending broken relationships. It also would be the day on which we agree to accept the olive branch extended by a former friend or estranged family member and do our best to start over.
"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2012. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.