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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I’m a grown woman, but I just screamed at the top of my lungs! My husband went ahead and agreed we’d go visit his parent’s cottage again this summer, when I told him last year I’d never go back there. I reminded him of that vow in May, so he couldn’t forget. He chose to, and did it — and I lost my cool.
My husband is mad because I will be embarrassing him. I told him his mother will be secretly glad I didn’t come, so she can play mommy, and will have her dearest son to herself. Oh, yes, she has played favourites with her own kids all their lives.
His mother is a witch who works under the cover of being sickeningly sweet. She pulls all kinds of stunts at the lake where she lays the blame on me, "a busy mother who can’t be expected to control that many kids." That would be three kids, no big deal! What should I do?
— The Screamer, Transcona
Dear Screamer: What your husband did was a dirty trick. You can either pretend to be sick last minute for his excuse-giving benefit, or he can say you are going to visit your own mom.
His mother will be thrilled you’re not coming, either way. Telling the truth would be nasty, so go see your mom, or feel free to do what you want at home.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I write in regard to Booted by My Parents (the siblings with young families no longer welcome for long at the parents’ cottage).
We also had a cottage, then the kids grew up and came with their own children and pets. One weekend we were 12 people and four dogs. They all brought food and helped out, but as the owners, we had the final clean up.
So, yes, we sold the cottage.
I say "Yeah!" to those parents who made it clear having a full cottage and constant comings and goings are too tiring for them. We sold before it became overwhelming, and we have never looked back. Our children rented cottages, or bought tents and their own travel trailers.
— Resting at Home! Manitoba
Dear Resting at Home: It’s too bad you can’t have any real cottage life at all — even in a tiny cabin with one bedroom. You are "resting at home" without the rabble descending all summer, but I hope you two feel OK about quietly renting a cottage for a few weeks or even just weekends when you feel like it. Just don’t tell anybody until you’re back!
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: When I read the letter from Landfill Saviour about unwanted gift-giving from friends and family, I saw a kindred spirit. In most families these days, people buy what they want. It can be difficult to find something to give that means anything.
You did the writer a disservice, assuming that this couple were holiday spoilers who sneered at gifts given. If they were indeed so ungracious, friends and relatives would not still be giving them what he feels is more junk.
My family indulges me in my lack of love for gifts, for the sake of social norms. After decades, the adult gifting has become an uneven mix, with some giving and others not in any given year, depending on the current situation for each person. We do enjoy thoughtful gifts — but no gift at all can definitely be a great choice. The gathering together is the most important part, not the gifts.
— No Rules, Manitoba
Dear No Rules: Your initial supposition that most people have enough money to buy whatever they want makes it clear you come from middle- to upper-class circumstances, where some people throw up their hands and say, "What do you buy someone who has everything they want?"
The gift disliker makes the occasion awkward for others and all about themselves.
You mention you don’t mind a gift if it’s "thoughtful." So, it’s not a gift in general you don’t like; you are critical of what the gift is. And you don’t like the hassle of having to think about and give others gifts, either.
The answer? Address the hearts with a new tradition of tiny gift-giving. A card with loving words, and something small that’s sweet, funny and personal or a gift to share like a new card game that will engage the family. Flowers are never too much, nor are food items a person made or specialty foods from a nice shop or a drawing from a child.
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.
Each year, the Free Press publishes more than 1,000 letters to Miss Lonelyhearts and her responses to the life and relationship questions that come her way.
Updated on Friday, July 10, 2020 at 9:05 AM CDT: Adds links
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