Dear Annie: Christmas with a new boyfriend
Dear Annie: I have been dating “Connor” for about three months. With the holidays approaching, I’m getting anxious for a couple of reasons. One, I’m thinking of what to get him for Christmas. We really like each other, and I see this as having the potential to be a very serious relationship, but it’s still fairly new. He enjoys hiking and surfing and loves food and wine. What’s a gift that says “you mean something to me” but doesn’t go overboard? Is there some sort of chart for gifts for dating milestones as there is for wedding anniversaries (e.g., paper the first year, cotton the second year)?
The other reason I’m anxious is that he invited me to his office holiday party. He is an attorney at a successful law firm, and I’m a hairstylist. I didn’t even go to college. So I’m a little intimidated. I’ve never met his boss or any of his colleagues, but from what he says, most of them are very serious, rude and unpleasant to be around. I’m quite the opposite of all that. Still, I’d love to support him. Is there a particular reason I should or shouldn’t go?
– Krissy Kringle
Dear Kriss: Sounds as if your stomach is more a bowl full of butterflies than jelly. It’s OK to feel nervous -- that giddy feeling is a fun part of any new relationship -- but don’t let nerves stop you from showing your enthusiasm for this man.
Why not buy him a cooking lesson or a gift certificate to a nice restaurant he’s been meaning to try? Experience-based gifts are thoughtful and fun, and sites such as Groupon and Living Social have good deals.
As for his office holiday party, go. Don’t fret too much about the bigwig colleagues. Remember that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. They’re probably not so bad as he says they are. (If they are, you’ll be able to commiserate all the better when he vents about work in the future.)
Dear Annie: There is a common theme to many of the people writing you: “I didn’t get mine.” People talk about not getting presents or thank-you cards. Some say, “A friend didn’t give me what he should have.” I checked the dictionary for the definition of “friend,” and the only mention of giving was that of support.
What do we have friends for? Is it to enrich our lives or our properties? If your answer is to increase your properties, then you are actually looking for donors.
Perhaps a better question is, What do we have etiquette for? Etiquette seems to discard the idea that having friends who love us is enough to be grateful for. I think any tradition that does not bring us to kinder and less selfish behavior should be scrapped.
I have not checked to see who has given me a present since I was a little kid. I don’t expect a thank-you card for anything that I’ve done because I care about a person. If the person thanks me in person, that is enough.
I don’t do favors to benefit myself (other than the obvious benefit of having friends), and I don’t invite people to be around me because I want something more than friendship. – Disappointed in Accepted Values
Dear Disappointed: You make a great point. Perhaps we should be less concerned with keeping score.
But I do have to add, to those of you who might read this and think you’ve found an excuse not to send a thank-you card to Grandma: Just mail the darn thing. Please. It will make her smile.
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