Q.: Whenever an acquaintance did not return an invitation for a social gathering more than twice, I felt perfectly correct in not issuing further invitations. On occasion, this has resulted in a termination of the relationship, presumably due to lack of interest or effort required to maintain it.

However, what does one do when the persons involved are family members?

I have openly expressed to my adult brothers and sisters that I feel overburdened as the hostess for every family dinner, including Thanksgiving, Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc. Upon suggesting that we meet at a restaurant, I am told "We can't afford it." When I request that someone else host the dinner, I hear "We don't have time" or "Our house is too expensively furnished to have children over," or "Our house is too small."

These family members claim that keeping the family close is important, and have even gone as far as to invite themselves over to our home to "keep in touch." I am torn between my emotional feelings of longing for togetherness with my family, and my resentful feelings for being the sole hostess for family events.

A.: Miss Manners can well understand the temptation you must feel to close down the family gathering place. Nevertheless, she urges you not to do so.

There are differences between family and friends. As you noted, it is easier on the emotions to drop neglectful acquaintances than relatives.

An advantage of blood ties is that you may spell out to your relations feelings that should be conveyed more subtly to others. Miss Manners knows that there are those nowadays who can't say an indignant "Excuse me!" to strangers who shove them on the bus, but prefer "I wonder if you consider how it makes me feel when you treat me like that," but she believes in saving revelations of the heart for one's intimates.

Tradition is commonly cited as a reason for one member of a family's doing all the work. It may even be that these people have some sort of warm feeling that holidays ought to be at your house, because that is where they have been.

Miss Manners does not consider this reasoning acceptable, mind you. She only advises you, when you encounter it, to remember that your family may consider it right, and even vaguely flattering to you, to gather at your house.

It is therefore a perfectly acceptable family sentiment to say, "You're always welcome here, but I just can't go on doing all the work. Either we move around for holidays, or we have it here, and the rest of you take turns bringing the food and cleaning up."