DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister-in-law seems unable to tolerate a reciprocal relationship where she accepts our hospitality or gift, and then she hosts us, gives us something, etc.
If we visit her, she gives us gifts and insists on paying "because we came all that way," but if she visits us it's different. This time she needs to pay for things "because we did so much."
She literally argued that a coin flip would be unfair to determine which couple got the better room in a shared suite. (The only fair thing would be if she and hubby took the lesser accommodation.)
I thought we made headway in the last visit. They accepted our hosting, but also took us out. Now I just received, after the fact, an additional gift certificate by email. I suffer from my own malady of really liking things to be equal, but this doesn't seem possible. What should I feel, do or say?
GENTLE READER: "Thank you," while trying not to sigh audibly. And when you take them out, make arrangements about the bill in advance.
In a world of moochers (such a satisfying word), excessive generosity may be a lesser annoyance, but Miss Manners thoroughly sympathizes with your discomfort.
However well your relatives think they mean, they are putting you in their perpetual debt, which is not pleasant.
You will, of course, thank them for the gift certificate. But you might want to add that you are saving it -- whether it is a meal out, or a present you should choose -- to enjoy with them on their next visit.