DEAR HARRIETTE: Our family agreed we would spend a maximum of $30 on one another's Christmas gifts this year. I purchased a cool gift that was over the initial budget of $30. We exchanged our gifts, and to my amazement, my gift was the only one of quality that someone could actually use. It felt like my family members did not care about purchasing their gifts. I actually gave my gift back to my brother, telling him I did not like it.
I know "it's the thought that counts," but come on. I'm acting childish because my family did not give better gifts with their $30 budget. -- Miss Grinch, Chicago
DEAR MISS GRINCH: I'm sorry, but you actually sound like a snob. You broke the rules and then had the nerve to rudely reject your brother's effort at following them. Do you see just how "childish," to use your word, you are?
Of course it is possible to get creative and devote time and attention to finding amazing gifts for $30 or less. But you have to be committed to the search. I understand that it was disappointing that your family did not go the distance.
A friend of mine made a pact with her husband some years back when they were in dire financial straits that they would spend a maximum of $9 on gifts for each other. The competition turned out to be in the creativity. Who could outdo the other with $9? They both stayed within the budget, which ultimately made both partners winners because they worked together, albeit independently, to bring joy to each other.
You could try that in the future. Better still, suggest for next year that you not exchange gifts but instead give to those in need.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I just learned that a former co-worker is in hospice care. I didn't even realize she was sick. I left that job almost two years ago. She was the nicest person there.
I am so sad for her and want to do something, but hospice usually means death is imminent. What can I do? --Grief-Stricken, Bronx, N.Y.
DEAR GRIEF-STRICKEN: If you know your former co-worker's address, send a note offering your love and support to her and her family. If you have a photo of the two of you sharing a sweet moment, send that as well. It's important that you send it right away, because you are right: Hospice usually indicates that only days to weeks remain before the end of life.
After your friend passes, be sure to follow up with her family to see if you can be of support.