Ask Someone Else's Mom by Susan Writer

Siblings Split on How to Celebrate Parents' 40th

DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My parents will be married for 40 years in September. My brother and two sisters and I and our significant others want to do something really special for them to celebrate, but we can’t agree on the best way to do that.

I am the youngest and still working on paying off student loans. My oldest sister is a psychologist and so is her husband, so they are really comfortable. The rest of us are not nearly as well-off, but just as anxious to do something nice for Mom and Dad.

It has come down to paying for a trip to California so they can see and stay with some old friends and a close cousin, or giving them a nice check for whatever they want to use it for. My oldest sister thinks she should be in charge, and is pushing for the cash, and what she is suggesting we each put in is a lot more than the rest of us can comfortably do right now. And not doing it makes some of us feel like we’re just being cheap.

I and my next oldest sister think the trip would be something they would really enjoy and would not likely treat themselves to. We priced it out and a four-way split, especially with little or no hotel expenses, is something we can all easily afford a quarter of. Our brother, as usual, refuses to tell us what he’s voting for, which we keep telling him is not very helpful.

How do we settle this? --- VOTING FOR THE TRIP

DEAR VOTING FOR THE TRIP: I’m thinking it’s up to you and your next oldest sister to convince your brother that the trip is the way to go, since that’s where your comfort level rests. Three votes to one might carry the day, especially if you emphasize everyone else’s budget constraints to your big sister.

Of course, she could argue that once they have the cash gift, your parents could opt to spend it on a trip. A counter to that is that “something else” always seems comes up where extra money could be handy, and there’s no guarantee the gift would be put towards something fun and memory-making — especially if your parents are practical by nature.

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