When preferences become obsession

Dear Annie: I am in my mid-60s and retired, as is my husband. We have family scattered around the country and travel quite a bit. It has become quite obvious that our kids’ generation is totally consumed with a certain famous coffee brand. I like to refer to it as “Fancypants Coffee.”

Every morning starts with rushing off to the Fancypants Coffee shop, whether we are visitors or hosts. No more relaxing at home on a Saturday morning with the grandkids playing. It doesn’t matter if we purchase this brand of coffee to have at home; that’s not good enough. All of my friends are having the same issues with their kids.

Food has become another impossibility. If they come to visit, we have to go out and buy different milk, bread, water, salt and so forth. Somehow the notion of eating what is served when one is a guest in someone’s home has been completely eliminated. Of course, I am not talking about folks with serious food allergies, but nobody ever died from consuming a different brand of orange juice or bread for three days.

If we go out to eat, the poor waiter has to answer all kinds of silly questions about whether the bread is organic or not. Again, nobody ever died from eating nonorganic bread once.

Whatever joy there might be in visiting family members or hosting them has been eliminated by this exhausting fussy obsession with “Fancypants Coffee” and strict adherence to certain food beliefs. There are people starving. Be grateful for what you have.

I hope you have some clever solution for this problem, and I wonder how many others find this all to be so ridiculous. — Grandma

Dear Grandma: Not a clever solution, I’m afraid, just a simple one: You’re not obligated to accommodate everyone’s dietary preferences. If you don’t want to stock your house with all the special brands of food that your kids want, don’t.

Let them go out to the store and pick up what they’d like, while you stay home and enjoy watching the grandkids play.

Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.