Life Advice



Ask Amy: Both giving and receiving bring trouble

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: After many years of exchanging gifts with my brother-in-law and his wife, my husband and I decided we didn’t want to do it anymore.

We are trying to get rid of things. We have too much stuff!

The gifts were getting more extravagant and some we didn’t even like or use (and gifts we had given them ended up in their garage sale, so this was mutual). It was sucking the joy out of the holidays.

After politely telling them we no longer wanted to exchange gifts for holidays or birthdays, they ignored our request.

The first year, we were given Christmas presents and had nothing for them. I was embarrassed and reiterated that we didn’t want to do this anymore and that their gifts made me uncomfortable.

The next time my birthday gift arrived with a card that said it was from their dog, so technically it wasn’t from them. Ha-ha.


And still it continues. I even stopped writing thank you notes.

I fluctuate between feeling like the Grinch and feeling angry because I feel disrespected.

How should we handle this?

– Not Gifted


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