DEAR ABBY: I was very close to my grandmother. My sister, "Julie," was not. Grandma had beautiful silverware that I used to help her polish when I was a child. She promised it to me. A couple of weeks before she died, she said that her silver should go to Julie. Grandma often mixed our names at the end, and I think she was confused about who was who. My mother disagreed; the silverware was given to Julie. A few years later, after she realized how much it meant to me, Julie gave me the silverware.
Recently, my father told me that because our family has had a run of bad luck, that Grandma was "cursing" us from the grave for disobeying her wishes. He has ordered me to give the silverware back to Julie. I think this is nonsense. To suggest that my sweet grandmother would send my 14-year-old nephew severe health problems from "beyond the grave" is a vile thing to say about a woman who loved us all very much.
I am scheduled for major surgery in a few weeks (further proof of the curse, according to Dad). Should I return the silverware to Julie, even though I don't believe in curses, or should I just ignore the "curse" and take the consequences?
Please don't tell me to see a priest. We're Jewish. -- "CURSED" IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR "CURSED": Curse, indeed! Call a rabbi and tell him or her what you have told me. There may be a blessing in Hebrew that can be recited that will put your father's superstitions to rest. However, the most precious legacy your grandmother bequeathed to her family is not her silver and china; it is the treasured memories of the good times you shared together. I hope that one day soon you will all enjoy a wonderful family dinner using Grandma's silverware.
DEAR ABBY: When you receive a gift on a special occasion and it's obvious that it's an envelope with a check inside, should the envelope be opened in front of the person or should it be tucked away to open privately?
I always worry that if I open the envelope in front of the giver, it's as though I am checking the amount. On the other hand, if I don't open it, it might appear that I think their gesture is insignificant. What do you think? -- NOT AN OPEN-OR-SHUT CASE
DEAR NOT: I see no reason not to open the envelope, and to thank the giver verbally on the spot. No mention of the dollar amount should be made unless there is no one else around to overhear. The amount is no one's business but yours. A written thank-you should also be sent to the giver -- preferably before the check clears.
DEAR ABBY: I am at my wit's end with how to deal with my parents. I am 29 years old and live 1,500 miles away from them. If I don't call or talk to them every day, Dad will say something like, "Your mom missed hearing from you on Monday and Tuesday." This is after I have just told them about some event I attended on those nights.
I prefer to talk to them once over the weekend. There would be ample topics to cover, and I wouldn't feel so smothered. Why don't they understand this? I'm tired of feeling pressured to talk to them every single day. How can I politely tell them to ease off a bit? -- TALKED OUT IN TEXAS
DEAR TALKED OUT: Understand that you can't change your parents. Their problem is you have been the sole focus of their lives for so long, they are having a hard time letting go. That said, you must change the way you react to their pressure tactics. The next time you talk to them, be firm, upbeat and direct. Sign off by saying, "Bye! I'll talk to you next Sunday."
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