DEAR HARRIETTE: My brother called at the last minute to me to tell me he was not coming to celebrate Christmas at my home. This was very short notice, and I had already wrapped gifts for him and my nieces. They have been coming every year without exception since the girls were born. (They are now teenagers.)
Although I am upset, I am now trying to figure out what to do with these gifts. They have birthdays and next Christmas to celebrate with me, so I was wondering if I could gift these presents to them at a different time, or if I should ship the gifts to them? -- Christmas Present to Birthday Present, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
DEAR CHRISTMAS PRESENT TO BIRTHDAY PRESENT: I'm sorry that your brother made a last-minute change in his plans to be with you for Christmas. Assume that your brother had a good reason for being a no-show, and don't make his daughters suffer. Not visiting with you is likely a disappointment all the way around.
I suggest that you send your nieces their gifts along with a note saying how much you missed spending the holiday with them. Tell them also how much you look forward to being with them at the next family occasion. You should also be prepared for fewer visits. As children grow older, sometimes the family that has to travel makes different decisions during the holidays. Find out why your brother chose not to come to visit you. Do your best to talk about it, so that you get on the same page way before the next family get-together.