I’m no longer invited to family celebrations or holidays. I am heartbroken and lonely.

DEAR BLACK SHEEP: Unfortunately, your experience is not unique. I hear it more and more, in one variation or another. It is now time for you to build a family of your own, comprised of friendships with people you can trust. Many people do this, and when they do, find themselves happier and more rewarded than they felt with their relatives.

As you do this, do not look back. Begin not by asking for friendship, but by being honest and befriending others. Look around, and you will see them everywhere. There’s no shame in reaching out, so please do not feel embarrassed about being a member of a very large “club.”A GENTLE REMINDER TO PARENTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN: Tonight, wee witches and goblins will be out trick-or-treating. Please supervise them closely so they’ll be safe.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby atTo order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price. headtopics.com

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