Cheese puffs in cat-proof cans?

The Mercury News Weekend - - COMICS | HOROSCOPE | ADVICE - AD­VICE Amy Dick­in­son Con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email at askamy@ amy­dick­in­

I’m not sure how to han­dle Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas meals at my in-law’s house.

Last year, right be­fore the meal, I watched my moth­erin-law’s cat eat­ing on the din­ing room ta­ble. It was hard not to vomit. I no­ticed the salad dress­ing had ex­pired years ago.

In ad­di­tion to all this, she leaves the dog and cat bowls on the same counter as the food be­ing cooked. While it prob­a­bly is not an ac­tual safety threat, this is in­cred­i­bly un­ap­pe­tiz­ing.

Over the years, I’ve found ways to get around eat­ing most meals at the house. I sneak out for er­rands and run to a fast­food joint. I’ve also con­vinced them that I love cheese puffs that come in one of those huge con­tain­ers. I can roll through a gal­lon of puffs in a few days if we are stay­ing with them.

My wife has spo­ken to both her par­ents about this sev­eral times. Noth­ing has changed.

What should I do over the hol­i­days? I don’t want to ruin th­ese meals, but I also don’t think I can sit at the ta­ble and eat the food in front of me.

I’m also not sure I want my chil­dren eat­ing food that is un­san­i­tary. Your ad­vice? — Hol­i­day Hun­gry DEAR HUN­GRY »

First of all, much as any­one might love to wear one of those cheese puff con­tain­ers over their face like a feed bag, if you are sneak­ing food into the house, there are health­ier op­tions. (An ap­ple, for in­stance, comes in a cat­proof con­tainer).

To your larger point, my sug­ges­tions are as fol­lows: 1) In­vite the in-laws to stay with you for the hol­i­days. ( Yes, I know, they won’t leave their pets at home...)

2) You and your fam­ily find a nearby Airbnb with a kitchen. You can all hang at the in-laws’ house, but this will take the meal­prep pres­sure off of them.

3) You and your fam­ily an­nounce that you would like to bring much (or all) of the Thanks­giv­ing feast to their house. You can pre­pare most in ad­vance and per­haps cook only the main dish at their house. Ask your mother-in-law to pre­pare one of her fa­vorite dishes.

Yes, the prospect of cats on the ta­ble is dis­gust­ing (I have cats in my own house­hold).

Yes, hav­ing pet food bowls on the counter is un­ap­pe­tiz­ing — and en­cour­ages them to graze on the counter.

Your wife has spo­ken with her folks sev­eral times about this, so as­sume that con­di­tions at the house will not change. Be gen­tle, diplo­matic and friendly: “We’re go­ing to give you a break this year about cook­ing meals. We hope you’ll let us do the shop­ping and cook­ing.” DEAR AMY » “Work­ing on it in the Mid­west” won­dered how to make amends for a drunken sex­ual as­sault he had com­mit­ted in col­lege.

This man should be made aware of the im­pact of this on the woman he as­saulted. He should also seek to vol­un­teer and sup­port or­ga­ni­za­tions that serve sur­vivors. — As­sault Sur­vivor DEAR SUR­VIVOR » Ab­so­lutely. Thank you.

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