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Mon, Feb. 24

Dear Annie: What's that old phrase?

Dear Annie: People who complain about giving gifts and not getting one in return should remember an old saying: If you are giving something and expecting something in return, then it is not giving; it is business. — Good Ol’ Saying

Dear Good Ol’ Saying: May our readers find the pleasure in giving to others without expecting something in return. That good feeling in and of itself is a gift.

Dear Annie: A writer asked about giving a gift to someone who has everything. We think of gift-giving as expensive and impressive. It’s not. The best gift can be some small trinket that brings back a happy memory that you shared with a person or persons.

We spent one Christmas on a small foreign island. The only thing open on Christmas Eve was a small 7-Eleven store. We made the spending limit $5. It’s hard to find anything for that amount, even in a 7-Eleven.

One gift was a small set of Christmas tree lights. Back at the motel, my wife broke off a small branch and stuffed it in a coffee can. We lit it up. It looked just like the Christmas tree in the “Peanuts” comic strip. We had a great Christmas and many laughs over the years about our little tree.

My greatest gift was the last photo of my wife. Although she was extremely sick, she sat up and smiled. It now sits on my desk and I look at it every day and smile. It’s a great way to start a day. — Greatest Gift

Dear Greatest Gift: I am very sorry about the loss of your wife. What a touching and beautiful way to honor and remember her. It sounds like you had a true love with a true artist. Making a Christmas tree out of a coffee can — I love it. Thank you for sharing your letter. I hope that it inspires others to cherish the memories they make with their loved ones while they are here on earth.

Dear Annie: Can you stand one more letter about guests helping with the cleanup after a meal? I do appreciate the offer of assistance, but I have my own efficient method for cleaning up after a meal in my small kitchen.

Guests who insist on helping by clearing the table and putting things wherever there’s a bare spot on the counter only complicate and prolong the process.

I have one friend who totally gets my system, and I have no problem with her jumping in, but everyone else makes it more chaotic.

So, dear guests, your sincere offers to help will always be appropriate and appreciated, but please be gracious enough to respect your host’s response if they ask you to relax and let them handle it. — Kitchen Cleanup

Dear Kitchen Cleanup: You sound like a great host. All that your guests have to do is to enjoy themselves and relax.

I’m glad that you acknowledged and appreciated their offer to help, but you were clear that you do not need their help and just want them to relax. What a lovely evening.

“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.

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