Dear Amy: I was raised to not ask for gifts on special occasions such as Christmas, but to instead appreciate whatever someone wishes to give me, including no gift at all.
This means that I don’t make gift lists, even when someone asks.
I have been in a relationship with a man for almost a decade. We have one young child, with a second on the way.
His family is a “list” family.
Since the beginning of our relationship, I have expressed I will not partake in this list-making for birthdays and Christmas.
After the first few years, I learned that my partner had been making a list for me behind my back and giving it to them.
I was pretty upset and asked him to stop.
This year I was asked directly again by one of his family members on an entire family group text to provide a list for me and our daughter.
I specifically stated I was raised not to make lists and will be teaching our children the same — so no lists for me or them!
I mentioned that we have many hobbies and like trying new ones.
I also mentioned that I’d like to teach my children that it is not about the gifts, and that we’d be happy receiving anything or nothing.
I found out soon afterwards that my partner again went behind my back — and made lists for me and our child (after they again asked him).
I am at a loss. I feel a lack of trust and disrespect toward me trying to instill certain values in my children.
I am very upset and do not know how to handle this.
Please share your opinion.
— Against Gift Lists
Dear Against: What you don’t seem to understand is that many people simply don’t know where to start.
So, by refusing to provide any guidance at all, you are making this whole process harder for these family members.
A lot of people really do want to give gifts that children will genuinely enjoy. But is your child into LEGOS or graphic novels? Do they love the science center or want to learn the violin?
Do they have a special wish or a collection the in-laws could add to?
This seems to have become a control thing for you, even though your goal seems to be the opposite.
It is obvious that your partner’s family does not know you very well, but by wanting to give you a gift you would need or enjoy they are trying to please you.
Letting them know the things you like (“I’m really into gardening this year”) will help to build a connection with them.
Your children will be raised with extended families that have different styles. That’s not a bad thing.
Your attitude toward this so far doesn’t seem to demonstrate tolerance, grace or gratitude: core values that you are obviously — and laudably — passing along to your children.
Dear Amy: I have a somewhat trivial question, but maybe it’s a nice break from the heavy topics you usually cover.
Like just about everybody else in the world, when getting together with friends we often pass around various photos taken on our phones.
I have one friend who has the habit of taking the phone, looking at the picture, then scrolling through the rest of the photos.
I find this to be presumptuous and kind of an invasion of privacy.
I’ve taken now to showing the photo but hanging on to my phone.
Am I being too picky?
— Just Curious
Dear Curious: I’m certain I’ve probably done this, usually assuming there is another photo like the one I’m being shown, but from a different angle.
I agree with you that this presents privacy concerns and is not polite.
We should all keep this in mind when sharing photos and videos in a group setting.
If you have identified one friend who consistently does this, you could gently point it out: “Would you mind not scrolling through the rest of my photos? I’ve got a screenshot of my nuclear codes on there.”
Dear Amy: “Upset” wrote to you about a conflict between a married couple about how to spend Christmas.
So, your advice to this couple is that they should work things out as if they were in a holiday movie?!
And maybe Jimmy Stewart could stop by to guide them.
— Not Convinced
Dear Not: Absolutely. That’s the whole idea.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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