Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

You're never too broke to give the gift of love

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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm too broke to buy presents. I'm not very artistic either. I want to do something but my total budget for my family of six people I love, is impossible -- only $20 Can you help? -- Broke as a Joke, U of Manitoba

Dear Broke: Listen up. Help is on the way! Hit a dollar store for six picture frames at $1 each. While you're there, buy a package of coloured construction paper for background and a smaller size of white paper, some glue, coloured markers, plus coloured tissue paper and ribbon. That's most of the $20. Then make six lists on the white paper with markers that starts with each person's name in big letters and all their qualities listed below. Then write "This is who you are to me!" followed by "Love," and your name. Not many people get to see their qualities listed and celebrated and framed. This will be a forever gift, hung on the wall or propped up on a desk for good. Wrap it in rustly tissue paper, tie it with a ribbon and make a card out of what's left of your coloured paper. What a treasure!

Miss Lonelyhearts: During the fall my mother fell ill and almost died, but was spared and her health is back to normal. Now Christmas is here and the kids are getting excited. But my mother is so grouchy she's dragging everybody's spirit down. The grandkids don't even want to be around her as she sees Christmas as a drag and more of a job, than feeling of joy and the family being together. My children are feeling stressed. Grandma told them how much money she's going to have to spend on them to buy them presents and how she will have to sit in a crowded place to see them at their Christmas concert. Oh, this just makes my blood boil with rage! I confronted her and told her that God gave her a second chance in life and we stayed by her side and she shouldn't think of us -- HER FAMILY -- as a burden. My words went in one ear and out the other. I'm seriously thinking of excluding her from Christmas festivities, especially when my children are hurting. What do you think? -- My Mother's a Scrooge.

Dear My Mother's a Scrooge: This may not be your mom's fault. It sounds like your mother has had a change of personality. Did she have a small stroke perhaps? Call her doctor and be very frank about what's going on, and ask what can be done to improve her miserable mood. She may need medication (perhaps anti-depressants) and the sooner the better. Don't exclude Grandma from the Christmas festivities but play music in the background loudly enough she can't take center stage and be a dominant Scrooge. If she starts saying mean things, get her coat and say, "You're sounding tired, Mom, and I'm going to take you home for a rest now. I'll pick you up later." If she protests, take her in the bedroom and tell her she'll have to improve her behaviour immediately or lie down for a rest. Yes, you be HER mom this Christmas. P.S. The kids may want to get up and open their Christmas presents extra early this year before Grandma makes the scene.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2011 D2

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