Posted: Thursday, December 23, 2010 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: Our two children are married with families of their own. The siblings used to get along quite well, but over the past few years, they hardly speak to each other. I don’t know what happened.
We threw ourselves an anniversary party, and our son refused to speak to anyone because we had missed his youngest son’s birthday celebration. The reason we didn’t attend was because our daughter had left her three little children with us when she took a vacation. The children were specifically not invited to the birthday party, so none of us could go. We explained this, but our son still feels we were in the wrong. Yet he rarely attends the birthday parties of his sister’s children.
I am dreading the holidays. Our son usually spends Christmas Eve with us and the following day with his in-laws. Our daughter has invited us to spend Christmas Day with her. I’d love to have them together, but my son tends to say “no” to any family celebration. Do we ask these two couples point blank what is happening or just ignore it? — Trying Not To Step on Toes
Dear Trying: These are your children. Talk to them individually. Ask what is going on and how you can help resolve the issues. Don’t accuse either of them of behaving poorly. Focus only on what would make things better. Frankly, your son sounds as if he is looking for reasons to be angry with his sister. That means he is likely to become defensive and, consequently, resistant to any of your suggestions. If that is the case, there’s not much you can do. But you won’t get anywhere if you don’t try. We hope they will listen to their mother.
Dear Annie: A few months ago, we invited newlyweds to visit us for a long weekend at our vacation home in Arizona. These are young friends in their early 30s. As a gift, we paid for their airline tickets and wined and dined them during their visit. We also gave them a wedding card with a significant check.
Three weeks after the visit, we received a two-line e-mail thanking us for the plane tickets and the wedding gift. That was it. No handwritten note. Not even a personal call.
I’m appalled to think this is how young adults thank others for their generosity. Have they forgotten good manners? Can’t they be bothered to write a gracious note, put a stamp on the envelope and mail it? Or do they have no clue? — Perplexed in Chicago
Dear Perplexed: We’re going to go with door number three. They have no clue. Either they were never properly taught, or they don’t believe a handwritten note is necessary these days. At least you received a two-line e-mail. Some folks don’t get even that much.
You were exceedingly generous to this young couple, and if you don’t feel it was sufficiently appreciated, you are under no obligation to be so magnanimous in the future. But it also wouldn’t hurt to casually mention that, based on their brief response, you weren’t sure they enjoyed the visit.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Crowded by the Ex” and agree that it seems many exes are not letting go, passive-aggressively attempting to crowd out the most recent wife.
My husband was divorced 46 years ago, and we’ve been married for 18 years. Early in our marriage, his ex could not wait to become part of our family, frequently showing up at our house unexpectedly to “see how we were doing,” bringing gifts, etc. Mind you, their now 50-year-old son lived in a distant city.
But we got even. On one occasion when all of us were present, we were approached by a woman who knew the ex, but not us. My husband introduced me as his wife, whereupon the woman turned to the ex and said, “Oh, Judy, so THIS is your son!” — Shook Her Loose
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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 12.23.10