Life Advice



Ask Amy: Time to sell a gift that has outlived a friendship

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Tell “James” that because your relationship with his sister seems to have faded, you wonder if he would like to have these family heirlooms. Even if you suspect he wouldn’t display them, he might choose to pass them along to a child – or another family member.

If James tells you he’s not interested, you should tell him you’d like to sell them. Transparency will help to preserve your close friendship with him. Whether to share the money with him is a judgment call – it’s not necessary to offer.

Regarding the larger question, you need to ask yourself how you would feel if a close friend of yours sold a memento from your childhood without at least running it past you first.

Dear Amy: Five years ago, my husband and I were invited to spend a week at the beautiful home of a couple we know (but don’t know well). They had other guests there, too, and they were wonderful hosts.

The last night of our stay, the group (10 adults) went out for dinner. Everyone had a lot to drink. We were all engaged in a spirited discussion about politics. In the course of this, the husband (“William”) raised his voice and directed some extremely personal and completely disparaging remarks at my husband. Truly – it was like a movie.

The evening screeched abruptly to a halt. We didn’t react, but were quite stunned, and left early the next day to catch our flight.


We have a wide tolerance for mixing it up (we’re both from big families), but this was unprecedented.

People had been drinking, and missteps are to be expected, but this was personal and vicious. The wife apologized, the husband didn’t, and I sent them a cordial note and gift, thanking them for their generosity.

The couple moved away and neither side has made any gestures.

I just got a text from the wife; they’re back in town and she says they want to get together. We do not hold a grudge, but don’t want to spend time with someone who so obviously does not like or respect one of us.


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