DEAR ABBY: My mom passed away unexpectedly, leaving behind two cats. My mother-in-law graciously took them in temporarily, which included shouldering the financial burden of a few vet visits.
After everything quieted, we asked her if she would be willing to keep the cats indefinitely because we rent, and re-homing them wasn't an option in our area. She agreed, but said when we want to take them, we can. We offered to compensate her for the vet bills, but she refused. Our relationship has always been strained, but, in that moment, she was very kind and generous.
Now, a year later, the cats have been renamed and are well cared for beyond what we could have ever given them. I, however, feel guilty. My husband and I don't want the cats. We will be buying a home soon, and our daughter is hoping to adopt a dog.
I do not want to take on a new obligation if I already have one to my mother-in-law. Those cats are my mom's final unfinished business, and I want to do right by them. How can I do right by my mother-in-law as well? — NOT A CAT PERSON
DEAR NOT A CAT PERSON: The cats have acclimated well to living with your mother-in-law — and it is entirely possible that she has grown to love them in the year they have been with her.
If she is aware that you will be buying a home, she should be told that your daughter has her heart set on having a dog. Because three animals would be too much for you, ask if she would mind keeping the kitties after you move. She may surprise you and say she doesn't mind at all.
(From where I sit, she sounds like a doll, so regard her generosity as a chance to mend fences and express your gratitude equally generously.)
DEAR ABBY: Please join me in honoring courageous Americans and allies who created a Christmas miracle during the Korean War. During November and December 1950, they fought a savage battle and achieved one of the greatest humanitarian rescues in history.
Fighting in the frozen mountains at Chosin Reservoir, with wind-chill temperatures far below zero, outnumbered and encircled (120,000 to 30,000), our troops broke out to save 100,000 Korean men, women and children by Christmas Eve. Our soldiers endured frostbite and suffering with valor, ultimately sustaining 16,495 casualties, but inflicting 48,156 casualties on the enemy.
We are indebted to those who suffered and sacrificed for our freedom. Please say a prayer for them and their families, and thank God for the gift of these precious souls. — WITH CHRISTMAS LOVE, CARMELLA LaSPADA, NO GREATER LOVE INC.
DEAR CARMELLA: Thank you for your letter. This is the time of year when people often reminisce about family memories. In that spirit, I agree that we should also remember our collective history, and reflect on and give thanks for the bravery and sacrifice our service members and their loved ones have given us.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.