Make us your home page

Let mother know that you find her gift to be special after all

Let mother know that you find her gift to be special after all

Q: Each year for Christmas, my parents usually get each child/married couple a substantial gift, and small presents for any grandchildren. We live across the country from them right now, and when she called to ask us what we might want, I had a hard time coming up with anything particularly gift-able.

So with nothing to go on but instinct, Mom ended up sending us a beautiful, handmade, heirloom-quality (thingy). The only problem is, we have lots of (thingies) already, though none as nice as this one. And so when we opened it up this morning, my husband and I looked at each other and said, "Maybe we can exchange it for something we need?"

Later in the day, we had a video chat with my parents and the rest of my family. And naturally Mom asked (eagerly) how we liked our gift. I, being instinctively straightforward (thoughtless?) and distracted by small children, said not very smoothly that it was beautiful and lovely, but we thought we might exchange it for something more practical.


While I know she isn't the sort to hold a grudge about something like that, I know she felt a little disappointed, though she covered it well. Thinking it over, I realize we have been really ungrateful, and that keeping the (thingy) is the way to go here, but I'm at a loss for how to communicate that to her, to make things right, without possibly making her feel like she somehow guilted us into it. Help?

Gauche AND an ingrate

A: Tell her the truth: You've gotten so entrenched in your pragmatic, needs-first, little-kid-serving lifestyle that you've forgotten how to look ahead. With a moment to think about it, you've now looked ahead and seen that this (thingy) is a piece of her that you'll always have and value, long after the kids are gone — and that even they can value after you're both gone — and you're sorry you didn't have the presence of mind to see and express that immediately.

In other words, tell her she didn't raise a completely thoughtless ingrate, but instead someone who really can spot a forest, despite occasionally getting caught up in trees.

Teens should be at church as believers, because they want to

Q: Our two children, 16 and 19, don't want to attend church anymore with the family. Frankly their scowling is embarrassing, so we have been letting them skip for several months. My mother-in-law thinks we should withhold privileges and money until they start going again. She also said the problem with churches losing young people is the fault of the parents. Our church is full of young adults happily sitting with their parents, so our situation stands out in a negative way.


A: Please tell Meddlin' Ma that, yes, perhaps it is your fault their faith didn't stick, but that you want the kids at church as believers, not mercenaries.

Whether you bathed them in the light of true faith, or whether you've pew-scowled yourself and are reaping the returns in your progeny, it doesn't really matter here: Your kids have reached the point where it's up to them to decide their own faith and observances thereof. Don't let the cluck-clucking sound around you drown out that essential truth.

Let mother know that you find her gift to be special after all 01/19/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours