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Health & Spirit

How to fly sister home for the holidays without ruffling feathers

Carolyn Hax on

Dear Carolyn:

My sister attends school overseas and lives with her boyfriend. My parents recently told me she can't make it home for the holidays this year because she's on a student budget.

I'm in a position to pay for my sister and her boyfriend to come and would like to offer that to them, no strings attached.

They may have any number of reasons to say no -- other plans, family dynamics, not wanting to accept large gifts -- and that's fine if they do. I just want to offer in case money is the only sticking point.

The thing is, I'm afraid of ruffling feathers. My sister's been historically sensitive to measures of success between us, and I'd hate to have her feel like I'm flaunting wealth while she's strapped, and I'm afraid my parents would be embarrassed if I paid and they didn't offer. Do you have any suggestions on how to make this offer without people getting upset?

-- Helping

 

Unless she'd find that upsetting, too, offer to go visit her for the holidays.

And tell your parents you're doing it, in case they want to join in.

That way you're using your money only on you, which is so much easier on everyone's feathers. If for any reason it's not what your sister or parents want, then they can simply decline your offer. (Yes, simply.)

As a side benefit, the offer also serves as an invitation for your parents to make other suggestions -- including to fly your sister and her boyfriend home. Which then might, or might not, come around to your offering to chip in as a gift.

...continued

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