DEAR ABBY: A few weeks ago, my partner and I received an invitation to a friend's 50th birthday party. The invitation stated, "No gag gifts."
A few hours before the party, my partner came home with a bag full of gag gifts, including Preparation H, Depends, etc. That's when the argument started. I told him I would not go to the party if he brought those gifts. I feel they are insulting, and those kinds of gifts are not funny anymore -- especially when the invitation specifies no gag gifts. I have seen those kinds of gifts a hundred times.
As a result, we did not attend the party. How do you feel about gag gifts? Who's right and who's wrong? -- TOO SENSITIVE IN RENO
DEAR TOO SENSITIVE: While I do not condone mentioning gifts -- gag gifts or otherwise -- on an invitation, the host, and presumably the honoree, had made their wishes known. You are not "too sensitive"; you were socially appropriate. For your partner to have ignored the invitation would have been rude and insensitive.
I have nothing against gag gifts if they are original, funny and tasteful. Frankly, I think in this case, by not attending, you spared yourself embarrassment and did the honoree a favor.
DEAR ABBY: My grandmother is 88 and in good health. She has lived with my dad's sister ("Aunt Joy") and her family since Grandpa died nine years ago.
Grandma doesn't have a mother-in-law suite or anything like that -- just her own bedroom and bath -- but she pays them between $600 and $700 in rent every month.
Furthermore, Aunt Joy charges Grandma a percentage of everything they do to improve the house. Aunt Joy had granite countertops put in; Grandma paid $1,200 for the use of them. They also had a fence installed and charged Grandma 25 percent of the cost.
I think my aunt is very materialistic. She uses Grandma and her money to get what she wants. Grandma isn't rich, but she has enough to live on her own if she wanted to.
It's also interesting that their daughter, who is 27, lives with them and pays no rent at all. Why should my grandma have to pay so much and my cousin nothing?
My parents would love for Grandma to come and live here in our guestroom for free, but we live 1,200 miles away. Dad doesn't want to create a rift in the family, but shouldn't he draw the line somewhere?
My aunt and uncle call themselves Christians, but taking advantage of an elderly woman doesn't seem very Christian to me. How should something like this be dealt with? How should Dad handle it? -- PERTURBED IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR PERTURBED: I don't know what kind of conversations are going on in your house about Grandma, but they are not something you should be involved with. If your father feels his mother is being taken advantage of, he should talk to her about it and tell her -- if he hasn't already -- that he and your mother would love to have her live with you rent-free. After that, the decision about where she wants to live and how she wants to conduct her life should be up to her.
As it stands, Grandma seems to have chosen to live with her daughter and agreed to the terms. Some mothers feel closer to their daughters than to their sons. It's a girl thing.
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