Arts & Leisure

Dear Mari: Just keep your gifts, please

CHRISTMAS is months away, but this person is worried.

Dear Marilyn,

I am working as a classified staff member at a local elementary school. I am very grateful to have the job. I work very closely with the students, and every year I get to know some of their parents as well.

Last Christmas, a group of parents asked me to give them a list of several of the teachers and school workers so that they could purchase Christmas gifts for all of us.

  I told them that the gifts were not necessary. I also advised that they should use the money to buy equipment for the students, instead of buying stuff for us.

However, the group of parents insisted that they wanted to buy gifts for the group of us. I did not like the idea, but I could not stop them from doing so.

Therefore, on the day that they sent out the gifts, I called in sick and stayed home, so that I did not have to accept the gift.

I do not know if what I did was right or wrong. However, I felt that I was being true to my convictions.

Another school year will be starting in a few months, and the budget is even tighter, I am wondering if there is anything that I can do early on to prevent this from happening again.

Do you have any advice for me?

Signed, Sensitive School Worker

Dear Sensitive School Worker,

   I do believe that you thought that you were doing the right thing by requesting that the gifts not be purchased, and that the parents’ money be spent on academic needs. However, I don’t think that you should have called in sick to avoid receiving their gifts.

   The gifts from them were not an obligation. It was something that the parents wanted to do. Once you made your opinion known, that should have been the end of it, as far as you were concerned.

   The giving of gifts, especially at Christmas time is not the time that many folks are “practical”. They wanted to show their appreciation to you and the rest of the staff.

   Next year, if the parents would like to give you a gift, it would be nice for you to honor their wishes, and accept it. Most of them are perfectly aware of the needs for your school. However, you should not direct them as to how to give gifts.

   Be gracious. Thank them sincerely for their generosity. Enjoy the season, and let them enjoy it too.

Dear Marilyn,

I recently was “forced” to move out of my parent’s house. My older brother thought it would be a good idea to move back to their house, along with his wife, so that they could save money to buy a home of their own.

They plan on staying for at least a year, and maybe longer. The house only has three bedrooms.

I made the decision to move out and to give them my bedroom, which is larger than the guest bedroom that they would have had to live in. The house would have been too crowded with five adults living in it.

I am enjoying the freedom of being on my own much more than I thought that I would. I have my “own life” and I rarely go back home to visit my parents or my brother and his wife. My brother calls me frequently, and asks me to come back and visit. He says that I have abandoned the family, and that I should come home more often.

I think that this whole thing is his fault for moving back home, and forcing the change. Now that it’s happened, I like it. Oh, and he has not once thanked me for giving up my room. I have not told him how I am feeling. I guess that if truth were to be told, I am mad at him. What do you think that I should do?

Signed, Angry Brother

Dear Angry Brother,

   There is no benefit for you to be angry. It is time for you to start talking.

   Your brother honestly might not know that he has offended you. He may not have any idea why you aren’t coming home to visit more often. Please talk to him, and soon. Let him know that you moved out so that they would have more space in the house. Let him know that you would like to know that he appreciates that.

   You may both be in for a surprise. He may be surprised that you are feeling this way, and you may be surprised to learn how grateful he really is.

   An unexpected benefit of this situation is that you enjoy being out on your own. This is great. This whole chain of events may be a good thing for you and your entire family.

   So, first of all, talk to your brother. Secondly, make sure that you go home and see your folks more often. Finally, enjoy your independence, as well as the knowledge that you are helping your brother and his wife to save for a new home.

Dear Readers, please send your questions to Include “Dear Marilyn” in the subject line.





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