DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I love two women and must decide what to get them for Christmas. One is my ex-wife, who doesn't seem to give a damn about me, but whom I still love. (I cheated on her in the marriage.) The other is my new girlfriend, who would do anything for me. I am in love with my girlfriend but I still love my wife, who is the figurehead of the large family we have together. She and the five kids are all getting together Christmas Day and I have been invited for a couple of hours at lunch. What do you suggest as gifts to be sent out, kind of like surprises to these women? That's how I like to do things. They both like jewelry, especially diamonds. -- Stymied, River Heights
Dear Stymied: How about doing things the way other people would like them for a change? Your ex-wife doesn't want jewelry from a guy who hurt her. Jewelry is sentimental and symbolic. It would feel awful for her to wear it at this point, like you're trying to claim her or chain her up and after she's told you to get out of her life. And a delivery to the door? Very impersonal and tacky! What you could do is give her a gift for the whole family to enjoy like a karaoke machine, which you could bring over at lunch time all wrapped up and hand it to her to open for the gang. As for your girlfriend, poor dear, jewelry would be more appropriate -- unless she's dying for a diamond ring, and you're not giving one, in which case she should be warned it's not happening this Christmas. Diamond earrings (of the larger variety) are better than pendants as they are fun and more casual. Give it to her with a big bouquet of roses. Big is good. Whatever you do, don't have the jewelry delivered like she's a kept woman! For yourself, this Christmas, you should buy the biggest etiquette book you can find, and digest it.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I caught a disease in early November from the person who sits next to me at work, and it took me four weeks to recover. Now she's starting to cough again, the first symptom of this horrible flu. Is it too much for me to ask to have my desk moved? I am close to having panic attacks every time she starts to hack up phlegm. Yesterday I said, "Stay home for God's sake! Don't make us all sick" to which she replied, "I can't! This project is due before Christmas and it's worth a lot of money to the company." -- Dying To Escape, West Kildonan
Dear Dying: She will probably be just as happy to get you out of her sight as you would be to see her banished to another room. At least try to find a desk that's vacant while somebody's on holidays and make a deal to sit there while she coughs and hacks her way through this pre-Christmas project. Meanwhile, try to protect yourself with healthy food, vitamin pills and extra sleep. If there's nowhere else for you to perch for a few weeks, ask your boss if you can move the desk and explain why plainly. If it's a very casual office, you could just quietly move it, and apologize later. Sometimes that works better.
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