Dear Annie: That wasn’t the deal
Dear Annie: This is not an earthshaking problem, but it concerns me. I am a childless widow and celebrate Christmas with my sister’s family, consisting of her adult children and their spouses; her adult grandchildren and their spouses or significant others; and one toddler.
Everyone was buying a gift for everyone else, and the cost became more than some could handle. The Christmas before last, we decided to draw names so no one would have to buy more than one gift. Last year, I dutifully brought my one gift to the gathering, as did most others. However, it turned out my sister had “cheated” and bought several gifts for each person. Dismayed, the rest of us asked why she had not followed the rules. Her reply was that this was her last chance to give everyone a gift. The whole point had been to relieve the burden on those who aren’t well-off.
Annie, I am not wealthy, but I am very capable of giving a small gift to everyone in our family. My joy in the whole exercise is in seeing people’s pleasure as they open the gifts. I have no wish or need to receive any gifts. I feel that my sister robbed me of the pleasure of giving, and I feel cheated. I am torn about what to do this holiday. My natural inclination is to get each person something and let the chips fall where they may, but I don’t want it to look as if I’m trying to outdo my sister. I have a feeling she will repeat last year’s action. I tried to feel her out, and her response was suspiciously vague. What do you think I should do? – Love My Family
Dear Love: Your sister no doubt lives by the adage, “’Tis better to give than to receive.” But the irony is that she’s denying her loved ones the gift of feeling generous themselves.
She probably hasn’t thought of it that way. She may think you all are just begging off the presents out of politeness and would be delighted to receive them. Break out the milk and cookies, and sit her down for a sisterly fireside chat, explaining how the rogue Santa act leaves you feeling robbed.
If she pooh-poohs your concerns and hauls in the toy sack anyway, don’t let it steal your Christmas spirit. At the end of the day, she wants to shower her loved ones with presents. You can’t fault her too much for that.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Tired of the Fight,” whose husband wants her to go to bed when he goes to bed, even when she isn’t ready.
If a person cannot fall asleep at a certain time, then she shouldn’t go to bed. All it would do is cause her to toss and turn, which I would think would wake him. Maybe he really has some ego issues and needs to be in charge.
In any case, I really agree with your suggestion that they find a compromise through understanding. Understanding and listening are the keys. Timing for the conversation is important, too. It should be sooner rather than later, of course, to avoid having resentment build up, and the mood should be mellow for the two to communicate properly. That means sitting down and listening to the other without interrupting. It works; it really does.
We all have our little things that bug us, but in a relationship in which two people communicate well and are willing to learn and grow together, having the type of conversation I’m talking about shouldn’t be an issue. -- Someone Who Has Been There
Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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