DEAR ANNIE: Every year, my grandmother and I go to my cousins' house for Christmas. This year is different for me. I have had the miracle of God helping me overcome some major addictions in my life.
I've expressed to my uncle that I do not feel like I know who my cousins are now that we are adults and have lost touch to some extent. There are also economic differences. My income is near the poverty level, and I receive government assistance. My cousins, however, are financially successful.
They are not into religion, and I believe they are controlled by materialism. (My aunt and uncle give me cash for Christmas.) I also notice that they do not open presents in front of us. I feel like a stranger who just shows up for a free meal and to get "paid." I think that going there cheapens the importance that this day has for me. I would rather go where they feed the homeless -- Trying To Keep my Dignity
DEAR TRYING: While we agree that the holiday season includes rampant materialism, you are being awfully harsh in your judgment of the relatives. The meal and exchanging of gifts is traditional in most families. Not opening presents is sometimes a way to avoid embarrassing someone whose gift may not be as fancy as someone else's. Giving cash is a way of providing a gift when you aren't sure what the other person likes.
These are all kind and thoughtful gestures, and we aren't sure why you don't harbor more charitable thoughts toward your family. However, if you would rather spend the holiday feeding the homeless, we certainly wouldn't try to dissuade you. We wish more people would lend a hand to those in need.
DEAR ANNIE: My grandson and his family live in another state. His daughter, "Mary," is having her first birthday soon. I went online to the websites of two major stores and ordered gifts from each store and had them delivered.When the packages were received, they called and said the gifts arrived and added, "Thank you for the presents."
I realize that I am lucky to have gotten that much acknowledgement. But, is it too much to ask that they at least tell me what they think?
Am I expecting too much? -- Picky Grandma
DEAR PICKY: A proper thank-you includes specific comments about the gift, even if just to say how thoughtful it was. And if you are comfortable asking, you can inquire whether Mary liked the toys and dress. .
To write to Annie's Mailbox, send to c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.