DEAR HARRIETTE: The time is quickly approaching when I have to give a gazillion tips, it seems, to everybody in my life. I live and work in an apartment building that employs about 15 people, from the super to the maintenance guy. Last year I was so tight for cash that I was not able to give any of them tips. In turn, several of them gave me the cold shoulder for months. One doorman didn't ring for four months before letting people come up. Others hardly spoke. I felt horrible, but I didn't have anything to give.
I am not making that mistake this year. I have saved so that I can give them something. But I remember last year, and it makes me mad that they would treat me so badly. I feel like this is almost a shakedown. -- Put Upon, Manhattan, N.Y.
DEAR PUT UPON: Workers in the service industry expect some kind of tip from everybody whose lives they have touched, particularly at the holidays. You are smart to have saved money for this purpose, especially since you were slighted last year for not tipping the people who support you in your building.
Rather than being mad at these people, be compassionate. Tipping is part of the cycle of their lives. They rely on this extra money to support themselves. Give what you can to each of them, and include a nice card that expresses your gratitude for their support. The amount you tip is not as important as the fact that you give them something, although the more generous you are, the more grateful they will be.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Last year I asked my friends to give money to a charity rather than to my kids for the holidays. I wanted my kids to know that their good will can go to help others. The idea was to have my friends give in my kids' names. They would get the notification that a gift had been given on their behalf, and that would help to reinforce the active practice of giving to others.
The problem is, except for one, my friends didn't do it. They got turned off by the idea that they couldn't give directly to my kids, so they just kept their money. I understand that this is their prerogative, but it doesn't change that I want to teach this lesson to my kids. What should I do this year? -- Teaching Generosity, Racine, Wis.
DEAR TEACHING GENEROSITY: Why don't you teach this lesson to your children directly? Suggest that they select one or two holiday gifts for themselves, while also selecting items to give to children who are in need. Take your children to the store to buy gifts for children whose parents may not be able to afford them. Have your children wrap the presents, then deliver them to a church, charity or other organization that you identify together as worthy.