As far as gifts go, don’t fret over relatives’ finances
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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I have an aunt and uncle I love dearly, but they live way beyond their means. They’ve shared many of their financial struggles with me — even how they have borrowed money from many friends and family members, including my parents, and can’t repay it.
I can’t control their spending habits and am not in a position to help them financially. What upsets me most is how they constantly buy pricey gifts for every holiday and occasion, or “just because.” When they ask what I or family members want, we all try saying “nothing,” but they buy gifts anyway. We also tried asking for secondhand or inexpensive gifts (still things my family would love and use) and they’d either ignore us, or get angry.
We’ve also stopped reciprocating with big gifts, and only do small or handmade items, but it doesn’t make a difference. I feel uncomfortable accepting these things they can’t afford, and know I’m not the only one. Any advice?
— Love the Thought, Don’t Need the Gifts, North Kildonan
Dear Love the Thought: They’re not your children, and they already know you’re not flush enough to loan them money, so you’re safe. Plus, you’ve already tried everything to curb their gift spending and nothing works.
So, it’s time to shrug your shoulders, give up and let them enjoy gifting you any way they want. Don’t explain or preach, or try to model what you think is an appropriately valued gift.
There is peace in giving up the struggle to control things you can’t control, and you will get along better with these relatives. In their own strange way, they are trying to give back — to even things up and show their love. So, just let them.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My husband is athletic and I’m artistic. We recently moved to an acreage that’s perfect for cross-country skiing. While my man is strapping on his cross-country skis to go off with his new club of ski friends every week on our property, I’m usually sitting down to do my thing — painting or quilting.
That worked just dandy, until she came along. She is our neighbour who found out about the ski group, and asked to join in. Her husband is busy on their farm near us, and doesn’t ski at all. She’s not what you’d envision as a farm woman. She’s decked out in hot ski clothes and serious make-up. I call her “Razzle-Dazzle” behind her back.
My husband’s group comes inside after skiing to warm up and have refreshments around our fireplace. He serves them drinks and snacks (I won’t prepare their party food). Then he always calls me to come join them. I pop my head in and say, “Sorry, people, I’m busy!”
I’m not really. After joining them once, I can’t bear watching her flirt with my husband, so I make excuses. He doesn’t seem to notice how she’s behaving, and I’m too proud to say anything, but I just hate seeing her do her thing. What can I do?
— Jealous, So Sue Me, rural Manitoba
Dear Jealous: Turn this situation around. If you had art classes at your place and a hot painting student was flirting with you, how would you hope your husband would react? Perhaps he’d tell you about his jealous feelings, and you’d be able to tell him you’re not at all interested in your student.
If your husband was actually hot for “Razzle-Dazzle” the ski bunny, do you think he’d be urging you to join their little après-ski group around the fire? Not likely. It’s time to alert your husband to the fact after-parties with the flirty neighbour are a downhill experience for you. He may tell you he finds her a pain as well, and wants you to run interference. That might be fun!
Please send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.
Maureen Scurfield writes the Miss Lonelyhearts advice column.
Updated on Thursday, January 19, 2023 8:38 AM CST: Fixes byline