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Hosts will be sorry to see you go

If your family is going to spend time at the home of friends or other family members this summer, for the sake of your friendship, observe the following courtesies.

Make sure your friends want you to come. It's fine to say to someone, "We were thinking of coming to Chicago a few days before we go on to Michigan. Any chance we can get together?" But if your friends say it's not the best time, don't push it.

If they act pleased and encourage you to visit, decide together on an arrival time and stick to it. Showing up with suitcases banging at 2 a.m. is sure to start the vacation off with your hosts' resentment.

Keep your family's belongings picked up and hidden away in your room. Shoes, T-shirts, purses, toys, books and purchases have no business cluttering up your friends' home.

Walk in with an attitude that you'll adjust to your friends' schedule as opposed to them adjusting to yours. If they like to sleep late and you're an early riser, tiptoe around until they get up. If they are accustomed to lights-out at 10 o'clock, retire to your room. This includes retiring your children.

Offer to help with household chores such as cleaning out the dishwasher, emptying the trash, sweeping the floor. Tidy up. If your friends want to cook a big meal, be supportive and helpful. Always remember you are their helper; they are not yours.

Frequently, people can be divided into two categories _ those who are eager to help and those who don't help at all. Either kind can cause problems. When guests don't help, extra work befalls the host, which invites feelings of resentment. But if people are too eager, they sometimes step on toes, especially if they take over and try to run the show.

If you want to use the washer and dryer, ask permission. If you want to turn on the television or stereo, ask before you click it on. Your children should follow suit.

Food is expensive. Buying a few cartons of milk and a box of cereal is not sufficient. Ask yourself how much you normally spend on groceries each week. If you spend $125 a week, and you are staying five or six days with your friends, you can be assured that they are spending an extra $125. Leave money, send an expensive gift, insist on paying the grocery bill when you go shopping.

When you go sight-seeing, pay for your own tickets and sometimes pay for your hosts'. Even if your hosts have more income and a more expensive lifestyle than you, do not assume that they can or want to pay for you. Pay your own way. This is your vacation. You are being provided with shelter and friendship.

Another thing to be aware of _ give your hosts some quiet time. Gather up your brood and get out on your own for a day or two. You also don't have to fill every moment with talking or television noise. Respect your hosts' need for quiet time.

The day you are to leave, strip beds, freshen the bath and do some picking up. Don't leave it all for your host.

When you return to your home, call within a day to say thank you. Follow this oral thank-you with a note.

Visiting friends and living with them for a few days or a week can be a most fun and rewarding experience. To make it so, go with the intention of having a good time and a determination to respect your friends and their possessions.