Dear Annie: My sister, “Ruth,” is 10 years younger than me. She thinks I am the spoiled one and I am convinced she is.
Ruth lives in another state and has not visited my home in years. She telephoned about coming for Christmas, and my husband and I were thrilled and excited. However, he advised that she be told (in a nice way) about our various allergies, and that we tell her over the phone rather than when she arrived at our front door. I led into this by saying I didn’t want to make her angry but felt it best to tell her upfront that we don’t allow animals or smoking in our home, plus we don’t curse. (Last time I saw her, she brought her dog.)
She seemed fine with it, but just before her scheduled arrival, she called to say she felt preached at and decided not to come after all. We had words. I was ugly and hung up. I felt bad and called her back the next morning and apologized.
A decade is a big age gap. I was married and out of the house when she was only 8. It’s been 44 years since we lived in the same town. We communicate mainly through our mother. We don’t write each other and phone only once in a great while. I haven’t heard from her since I called to apologize. Was I wrong to make those requests? — Completely Confused in Mississippi
Dear Confused: Not wrong, but not terribly sensitive. After not seeing your sister in years, it was probably too much to give her a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s OK to say in advance that you cannot accommodate her dog because you have allergies, but it’s presumptuous to assume your guest is going to annoy you in other ways. This was a tenuous invitation to begin with, and your suggestions made it more likely your sister would feel unwelcome. We think it’s worth inviting her again, but this time, perhaps she could stay at a hotel and you could meet for dinner and the theater.
Dear Annie: The other day, my 6-year-old grandson proudly showed me his wallet, which contained 10 plastic gift cards that he had received for his birthday.
I know it is hard to buy gifts for children, but why must we teach them to live with plastic so early? Do they know how many quarters, dimes and nickels are in a dollar? Do they know how much change they should get back? When you use a gift card, the cashier does the math for you.
I was told, “Oh, Gram, get with it. We might not have currency in 10 years.” Is this why the average American is in credit card debt? — Not With It in Arizona
Dear Arizona: Owning a credit card doesn’t cause debt. Children understand that gift cards have limits. And it is indeed possible that actual currency will no longer be in use down the road. But you are right that children should be taught how to make change and what constitutes a dollar — and this is usually covered in math class. Children also can learn about saving and spending money if they have a regular allowance. We think you are in a great position to give your grandchildren lessons in the value of a dollar. Go Gram.
Dear Annie: “Perplexed in the Midwest” asked about getting a cubic zirconia engagement ring instead of a diamond. I believe he should get an engagement ring with the birthstone of their child, since they are all in this together. He can promise her a diamond when they become more established and can afford it. Hopefully, the birthstone will be less expensive. It sounds sappy, but I believe she will enjoy this ring more than a diamond. — Hopeless Romantic in Florida
Dear Florida: Some birthstones are no less expensive than small diamonds, but we think it’s a lovely suggestion.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.30.08