Dear Annie: I have four cousins, whom I love a lot. There’s “Piper,” the eldest at 10, with whom I connect on a social and BFF level. The second-eldest, 8-year-old “Wes,” loves to play video games with me, as well as trade Pokemon cards. Then there’s “Ellie,” 7, who likes to bring out my fun and imaginative side. “Evelyn,” 6, is the adorable little munchkin whom I love as if she were my baby sister.

All of them are so awesome, but lately, my cousins have been fighting over me. I used to spend a lot of time with Piper because she’s the most relatable, but then I realized I was barely giving time to anyone else. So I started spending more time with Wes, Ellie and Evelyn. But it’s starting to get harder and harder to spend time with every single one. Someone is always getting angry with another for taking me away. I really do love them all. I just wish there were a way that I could spend time with them all at once. What do I do?

— Troubled Cousin

Dear Troubled Cousin: You listed a series of interests that each cousin has. My suggestion is to take each one out individually for a fun day with you, doing some activity in which you can devote 100 percent of your attention to the cousin. After each cousin has had your undivided attention, it will be much easier to gather as a group, and it should make the get-togethers more enjoyable.

You must be a very special person to have all of your cousins clamoring for your attention. It is not surprising that when you describe the cousins, you talk about their interests and what makes them special. No wonder they love you so much!

Dear Annie: This is in response to the letter from “Loving Mother,” the woman who receives gift cards for clothing stores when she doesn’t need clothes. She said she would prefer generic cards so that she could buy things she does need.

This happens to me, and I have the perfect solution — and none of the givers is the wiser. When occasions call for gifts, she should use those cards to buy gifts for the people who bought the cards for her. Obviously, the cards are from stores they like, so the gifts should work out. Most department stores also sell small electronics, perfume, jewelry, greeting cards, etc., so her gifts don’t have to be limited to clothing.

In her letter, she said she “received almost $400 in gift cards” at Christmas. Woo-hoo! That’s probably equal to the amount of money she spends in a year toward buying gifts for others. Seeing as she has to buy gifts anyway, why not think of the cards as a bank account to be used for that purpose?

She could also give the gift cards to charity. Think of all the women’s shelters with residents needing new clothes for job and apartment hunting or simply to stay warm. If she goes to church, she could drop a card in the collection plate with a note that it should go to a needy congregant. If that wouldn’t put a smile on her face, what would?

— Been There, Still There, Love It There!

Dear Been There: Thank you for your great suggestions.

Annie Lane, a graduate of New York Law School and New York University, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Email questions to dearannie@creators.com.

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