DEAR ABBY: Three years ago, I married "Earl," a man with two children. We had both been single parents for years. Earl divorced in 1982. I divorced in 1987. I have four children. Only one is still living at home, and he's in college.
Abby, every Christmas since his divorce, Earl has given his children money to buy their mother a present. I assumed he had discontinued this after we married. However, this year I discovered that Earl gave them a blank check to buy something for their mother. (Her gift wound up costing $215.)
Earl insists he's teaching them an important lesson about Christmas and giving. Abby, his children don't have to pay for college, gas, clothing, food or car insurance. They each drive a sport utility vehicle.
I don't understand the lesson he's trying to teach them, and he seems unable to explain it to me. Can you? -- HURT IN KANSAS
DEAR HURT: Old traditions die hard. Your husband has probably always "slipped" his children money to buy their mother a Christmas present. He apparently can afford it. Perhaps on some level he feels guilty about the breakup of the marriage -- or he simply may want to stay in her good graces. If he's taking good care of you, don't make an issue of it.