Life Advice



Ask Amy: Sister’s annual gift cards just don’t cut it

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: Every year, my husband receives a text message from his sister asking what our two children would like for Christmas.

She does not acknowledge our children's birthdays or any other special milestone that would warrant a call, a card, or a gift; but at Christmas she always sends gift cards.

My children and I appreciate the sentiment, but as she doesn’t really know our family or express any interest, I find these gifts as just “something to send.”

I would like to suggest that she not send anything, as there isn’t a connection between us, and her gifts do not have any other meaning than “a gift card from your Auntie.”

Should I just leave it alone and graciously say thank you every year, or should I/my husband approach her to say — don’t bother?

– Reluctant Gift Receiver


Dear Reluctant: Your sister-in-law asks what your children would like for Christmas, and then sends gift cards. Actually answering her question (“Mariah is really into music, and I know she would love a ukulele”), might help to promote some connection between these family members. (If you do answer this question and she still sends gift cards, then that’s a different matter.)

This aunt is doing … something. Granted, her efforts are not enough for you and yes, this is obviously disappointing, but you are quite literally looking this gift horse in the mouth and saying, “Well, nice try, but your measly efforts once a year are just not good enough.”

Do you and the kids remember your sister-in-law’s special days? Do you send along photos of the children when you deliver your gracious annual thank yous?

Your children deserve to have wonderful relationships with all of the adults in their lives, but many families don’t work that way.


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