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Some things too valuable to throw out

Dear Annie: Three years ago, I threw out my drug-addict boyfriend. The last time I saw him, he was in a local detox. I haven’t seen him since and have no idea where he is or even if he’s still alive. For three years, I have held onto a bag of his things, mostly childhood photos, pictures of his kids and his birth certificate. How long am I obligated to hang onto this?

I have no way of getting in touch with his mom, who is elderly and probably doesn’t want to be burdened with having to store his things. And even if I knew how to reach his sister, I dislike her so strongly that just thinking about contacting her makes me sick. She would probably destroy his things, anyway.

So, what do I do? – Just Wondering in Omaha

Dear Omaha: Since these items include photographs and a birth certificate, please make an effort to get the bag to him or his relatives. You can try a Google search foryour ex-boyfriend to see if you can find anything on his current location. You can ask old friends if they have a current address or even check the detox center in case he’s been back there.

You also can probably find his mother or his sister through the phonebook and then mail the items to them. (This wouldn’t require any actual contact.) A little detective work on your part would probably yield results and giving those items to someone who cares about them would make you feel better.

Dear Annie: I am the mother of two young children. Each set of grandparents visits us three to four times a year, and they stay two weeks at a time. They pay their own way and are very generous, but they do not help clean, cook or even take out the trash. Most annoying is that they alternate spending Christmas with us, so every year without fail, we have houseguests for the entire Christmas break.

Our children would like to entertain their friends during their winter vacations. We, too, want to spend time with other families, but feel we can’t invite them over when we have a house full of relatives. My husband says we cannot do anything to discourage the grandparents from visiting. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I want my space. Any suggestions? – Fed Up in the West

Dear Fed Up: Actually, it’s rather nice that the grandparents alternate holidays. That means no fighting over which side gets to see you. However, two-week visits can be draining.

You have time to set up a different routine this year. Make specific plans, either to go away or to have company, for one of those two weeks. Then tell the grandparents that you’ll be thrilled to see them, but the visit will have to be shorter, since you are not available the rest of the time. Of course, to be fair to the other set of grandparents, you’ll have to do this again next year. And the next.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Texas,” about parents who don’t follow safety procedures when picking up the kids from school.

In Nipawin, Saskatchewan, the local police show up two to four times a month and walk around the school, not to hand out tickets, but to let the public know that this area is not a drag strip. It’s a safe haven for all children to play and learn. Often, they will drive past just before school is let out. It works for us, and it could work at other schools, too. – T.F., White Fox, Sask.

Dear White Fox: It’s wonderful when the local police department can take on these extra patrols. Thanks for mentioning it.

Dear Readers: Thursday is National Alcohol Screening Day (NationalAlcoholScreeningDay.org). If you or anyone you know has an alcohol problem, please call (800) 697-6700 (TDD 800-206-6100) for a free, confidential screening.



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