DEAR AMY: My sister-in-law informed me a few weeks ago that our family of three won't be invited for Thanksgiving this year. The reason is because she's having 10 people, including her sons' families, and her husband's two grown single kids. Her brother (my husband) is left off the list, but she made a point of informing me, not him. He's upset and wants to talk to her. Last year, she implored us to join them for Thanksgiving because it was just her and her husband, and she felt self-conscious about being alone. My teenage daughter would love to see her cousins, who have babies. She has a very close relationship with this aunt and explaining not being invited is tricky and, in the end, hurtful. Our home is much smaller than theirs, and we've entertained more than twice that number at one time. What would you do in this situation?
-- No Turkey off the Turnpike
DEAR NO TURKEY: Here I was, packing my beach bag for July Fourth, and I'm hit with a Thanksgiving question? But I realize that for some families, it's never too early to get started when it comes to having holiday problems.
Your husband should speak to his sister. She obviously put the word out months in advance for a reason: She either really doesn't want your family to be with them, or she is setting herself up to be talked out of it.
Don't approach your daughter with an elaborate explanation. Simply say her aunt has made a choice, and you'll have to make other plans this year.
DEAR AMY: I tell my daughters every day that they are smart, beautiful, talented and loved. Recently, a "friend" in my daughter's third-grade class has been telling her that she is stupid, ugly and useless. I talked to the girl's mother, and she apologized and said that she would talk to the girl, and the behavior has gotten better. The problem is that now when I tell my daughter how wonderful she is, she shrugs and says, "You have to say that, you're my dad. It's not true." This breaks my heart, and I don't know what else to do to fix the damage. Thanks for your advice.
-- Concerned Dad
DEAR DAD: I think you should play a game: Ask your daughter to use five words to describe herself. Then ask her to use five words to describe you.
Then you do the same and back up your descriptions with examples: "I say 'smart' because you get good grades and you always remember where I parked the car. I say 'kind' because you are thoughtful and very nice." She got knocked down, but she knows you're in her corner. She needs time to recover.