Since my divorce from my husband several years ago, good friends have included me in their holiday celebrations. Recently, I have become involved in a close relationship with a man, also divorced. He has grown children who will be spending the holidays with him. He has asked me to be a part of their celebrations. I want to be with him and his children, but don’t know what to do since celebrating the holidays with my friends has become a tradition. I can’t ask them to join us, but also don’t want to seem to be rejecting their kindness over the years by declining their invitations. What do I do?

You happily follow your heart and join the new man in your life and his children. Your close friends will not only understand, but will be glad for you! There are 363 other days of the year, beside Thanksgiving and Christmas, that you and the new man in your life can get together with your long-time friends and start new traditions together.

I sent a birthday gift to my niece about a month ago. I got a delivery notice, but never heard from her. I’m concerned that maybe she never received the gift but don’t want to ask her and sound like I’m demanding thanks. I’m OK with no thanks, but also want to trace the package if she didn’t get it. What do I do?

You ask. You say just what you said here: “Ellen, I just wanted to check that you received the present I sent you for your birthday – if you didn’t, I need to try to track it down!” Ideally, she indeed received it and will be quite embarrassed that she didn’t let you know or thank you. You aren’t looking for gratitude, but really, if she got it, a handwritten note would have been in order; even a quick email would have been thoughtful and removed the worry you are experiencing.

A close friend has left the church we’ve both attended for over 15 years, to join a different church, of a different denomination. She calls me at least once a week to invite me to events at her new church. It’s making me crazy. I’m happy where I am. I’ve made lots of excuses but she persists. What can I say without hurting her feelings?

The truth is good. Tell her that you are glad for her that she is enjoying her new church, but that you are happy where you are and simply don’t have the time or the interest to investigate a new affiliation. Thank her for her kind offers, and ask her to please stop inviting you because you feel bad turning her down all the time, which you will continue to do if she persists. And then make a date to see her soon, to soften the rejection and let her know you care about her.

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