Q This Christmas I went to a lot of trouble to find special gifts for my grandchildren. I have some health challenges, and it was a stretch physically to shop for these gifts. Since I was in their neighborhood the week before Christmas, I left my presents under the tree ahead of time.
They expected me Christmas morning, and I called ahead to say I was on my way. When I arrived carrying two grocery bags with food, my grandson met me at the door saying he really liked the books. I couldn’t believe my ears. They had opened my gifts without me!
I told my daughter I was disappointed, and she said she was “sorry” I hadn’t left “instructions.” Her husband told me they have a rule in their house: no whining. What should I do? Skip Christmas for them? Forgive and forget? Move?
A Clara, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it still make a sound? If a child receives a gift and you are not there, is he still filled with joy?
Don’t skip Christmas with your family. Next year take the gifts with you on Christmas morning, and be grateful for a son-in-law with such a wise rule for his household.
Wayne & Tamara
Q I am recently divorced from a destructive narcissist. His infidelity, coupled with a lack of remorse for the havoc caused to our family, was the last straw. This crisis drove me to discover much about myself that needs repairing. I am happily working on those issues, particularly on establishing clear boundaries and a strong sense of self.
Last week my son, his former stepson, received a birthday check. I told my son he should return it. I said it was okay to keep the good memories in his heart and be polite when they met, but that gift was just making my ex look like a good guy and showing total disregard for the pain he caused all of us.
My son accidentally got wind of his stepfather’s affair through a third party. It was a cruel discovery, and he was deeply hurt. I also explained it’s hard to say “enough” to someone you opened your heart to, but it is imperative to recognize situations for what they are and not make excuses for bad behavior. My gut says I’m on the mark. What do you say?
A Julene, our gut says you are on the mark. For yourself. But your relationship to your ex-husband and your son's relationship to him are two entirely different things.
For better or for worse, you were the one who brought this man into your son’s life. You don’t mention how long you were married or how old your son is. But it sounds as if this man may be the only father your son has ever known. As long as your ex-husband is not clearly using this to get back at you or to manipulate your son, let your son decide.
If the check is what it appears to be on the surface, a gift, your son should decide whether to accept or not. If he is like most young people, he would rather have the money. If he is like most young people, he would rather not be caught in the middle of a power struggle between his mom and the man he thought of as dad.
Wayne & Tamara
Q My boyfriend and I have always had our differences, and though we are both strong-headed, we have learned to appreciate each other. We've been talking about marriage, but there is one issue I cannot get past. He is so selfish!
He contributes little to the household duties and financial obligations such as food and cleaning supplies. He spends large amounts of money on weekends and vacations with the boys, but can only rarely take me out to dinner. He shops the Wal-Mart clearance racks for holiday gifts. Christmas was a toothbrush and bath mats.
I strongly dislike the area we live in and would like to relocate. He says he grew up here and will never live anywhere else. I was recently laid off, and the only positions in my field are in other cities. I want to work so I can fulfill my half of the financial obligations, but he says he cannot leave and I should just keep looking.
A Prudence, opportunity knocks all the time, but the problem is we usually can't recognize it for what it is. We expect the Prize Patrol to show up with balloons and a check for a million dollars. That isn't going to happen. Usually opportunity shows up as something mundane, like getting laid off from our job and thinking about where our life is headed.
You are thinking about marriage, but you should be thinking about 50 years of bath mats and toothbrushes from a selfish man. You want to keep up your half, but where is his half?
We can hear opportunity knocking, can you?
Wayne & Tamara
Invade – to enter as if to take possession, to intrude upon.