DEAR ABBY: My husband and I attended the wedding of two dear friends. The groom's mother, "Millie," made party favors for all the guests -- little gift bags containing sugar-coated almonds and, because the bride and groom are animal lovers, a small glass animal. A few days later, a friend brought her teenage daughter to our home. The daughter admired the two glass animals, so I gave them to her.
I was shocked when, the following weekend, Millie called and asked me to return them. She said she planned to take them back because she would prefer to use the money to buy the couple something they could use. Feeling guilty for "regifting," I responded with the first thing that popped into my head, that I hoped I hadn't "misplaced" them. Millie said she hoped not, too -- they had cost $35 apiece, and she would expect us to reimburse her! Further, we should not mention it to the "happy couple" because of the embarrassment it would cause.
I asked the bride's sister where Millie might have bought the glass figurines under the guise of wanting to get some as gifts for my grad students. I was stunned when she responded that she had purchased an entire case of these inexpensive animals as wedding favors, and that I was welcome to them if I wanted to pick them up from her home.
I'm unclear what motivated Millie to ask for the animals to be returned, or why she would inflate the price and expect to be reimbursed. I understand there was an unpleasant power struggle over the wedding arrangements, but I'm not sure what she hopes to gain from this.
How should this be handled? My husband says I should tell Millie the truth, that we gave them away and we know they cost only 80 cents apiece. What do you say? -- STYMIED IN MARYLAND
DEAR STYMIED: I say Millie is dishonest, and Millie is manipulative, but she's right about one thing: It would create embarrassment if you told the bride and groom what she's been up to.
You were off the hook the minute the bride's sister told you she had a case of the little glass animals. Swing by, pick up a couple and give them to Millie. She's as transparent as they are, and her story about returning them to buy anything for the happy couple is another fabrication.
DEAR ABBY: I have the classic evil stepmom -- except she is my mother, and it's my stepsisters that she mistreats. They are 8 and 6 and have suffered enough through their mother's divorce.
My mother treats them as if they are less than human and don't have the right to be in "her" house. I feel terrible about the way she treats them. I want to do something about it, but I can't say anything to her because that would be disrespectful. Please advise. -- SILENT WITNESS IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR SILENT WITNESS: Your mother's behavior is despicable. She knew the girls were part of the package deal when she married their father, and she has no right to abuse them.
Because you feel that talking to your mother would be disrespectful, I urge you to tell the girls' father chapter-and-verse about what's happening to his daughters. No law says your mother has to love them, but at the very least, she should treat them with courtesy and respect.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)