Confessions of a ‘Second-Class Grandchild’

A reader wonders why her ex-stepmother’s mother doesn’t lavish her with gifts.

Comments: 82

  1. I'm so glad this wonderful column now has a comments section! Just a note: the "step-sisters", presumably born while her father was still married to her step-mother, are her half-sisters, not step-sisters. The columnist mentioned blood ties. The sisters are all related by blood. (Not that it makes that grandmother any less kind.)

  2. @PrairieFlax, but Cinderella’s blood relationship to her half siblings does not make their grandmother any more obligated to maintain a close relationship with Cinderella, especially after the parents divorced. I had a step father and step siblings who came into my life when I was already an adult. I saw the complexities of “his and hers” grandchildren, divorces among offspring (followed by second marriages and second families of grandchildren), etc. Perhaps that makes it easier for me to accept (expect) that this grandmother would feel differently about grandchildren and a (seemingly difficult) ex-step granddaughter.

  3. @ Prairieflex - there is almost certainly a lot unsaid in this letter. The fact she referred to her relatives as Step-sisters and not half sisters is very curious

  4. What would happen if the cupcake coworker said, "Gee, those cupcakes were marvelous. You said you brought them in. Where did you pick them up?"

  5. @A Presumably 6 dozen cupcakes came boxed from the shop with their name on the box.

  6. There are so many possibilities for passive-aggressive taunting of this liar. Afternoon cupcake happy hours at the intern's other place of work, for example. Asking him when he's bringing more. Assigning him the role of snack coordinator. Calling him "cupcake" as an office nickname. The possibilities are endless. Of course they could just say, "Hey man, this was weird, but the intern said she brought them. Can you clarify?" But that would take all the fun out of it.

  7. Love the idea of calling him cupcake!!

  8. @L Your reply perfectly encapsulates why I am so pumped that Social Q's now allows comments!!

  9. @L You may think it's funny now, but wait til he takes credit for someone else's work. This is an office, after all. Not so funny.

  10. To Cinderella ~ Regardless of what Philip Galanes wrote about paying more attention to your x-step-grandmother, I will give you some advise. I spent nearly 20 years doing my best to make my natural mother love me. She never did. Oh well! I didn't waste those years though and not just because my actions made my step-dad tell me just a week before he died "What I see now is that all 4 of my natural children aren't worth a 10th of you." Which was satisfying but not what I was after at that stage in life. What began as a endeavor to prove to my mother she should love me I learned to be a descent person. That's what I wanted to be regardless of who the other person was. Don't get me wrong, I loved my step-dad and he was a good father to me. I never once suspected at any point in our relationship that he didn't love me as intensely as I loved him. Don't try to make some appreciate you or love you. By the time that happens, you won't care a dime's worth of dirt how they care about you. You'll care about them and realize not every dream is fulfilled and that despite that truth you can end up being a better person just because you are.

  11. To Cinderella..The important question is not whether your ex-step-grandmother loves you, but whether you love her. If so, follow Mr. Galanes’ advice and pursue an independent relationship with her. There is no mention of your biological mother or grandmothers in your letter—perhaps, through death or divorce, you are feeling abandoned by them and are trying to make up for it by getting this woman to love you. If that is the case, or if you don’t really care all that much about your ex-step-grandmother except for the fact that she seems to have rejected you, then find some other women who will value you, be role models for you, and lift you up. There is no percentage in spending your life chasing after those who withhold their love. Most important, learn to love yourself.

  12. The fact that she knew what her half sisters got as presents confused me. Did her ex-stepmother get custody of her in the divorce? Isn’t that somewhat unusual? We also don’t get a lot of info on relative location of various people involved and reasons for the divorce. I would not jump down on the ex-step grandmother without more facts. Doesn’t the writer already have two sets of grandparents via her father and birth mother? The woman may have thought she was a fifth wheel, literally.

  13. @Michael Blazin: I agree with the author that the letter writer's concerns seem to be much more about the "things" she didn't get than the relationship with the ex-step-grandmother. Makes me wonder about her priorities.

  14. @Michael Blazin By suggesting the letter writer was a "fifth wheel," are you implying that the she crashed a Christmas gathering of former "step" relatives? There isn't anything to support that. I made the opposite inference, that she was still included in those family gatherings. Assuming that, whoever was handing out gifts could have been more sensitive. The pearls to the biological granddaughters could have been given more discreetly.

  15. I always enjoy reading these and usually agree with the advice given, but 'How Generous!' was unnerving. Yes, it's a weird and relatively harmless lie, but I don't think the response should be so glib. This new co-worker's actions here speak to a couple of potentially major character flaws; he's clearly seeking recognition he doesn't deserve and he's comfortable telling a lie to a group of new colleagues. He also seems dismissive of the intern who did bring in the cupcakes- a woman who's more junior. It's cupcakes now, but wait until it's an important idea or work initiative he takes credit for, slighting someone who is actually deserving. Again, this is a weird and minor act in and of itself, but I would mention it to HR. If he pulls something similar when it does matter, there will be a record of bad behavior.

  16. @EBA, I agree. The answer was funny, but such jokey remedies are not appropriate in most real-life workplaces. I have worked in newsrooms, though, and I can tell you that this kind of razzing does go on there. Cupcake would never live down his error in judgement. My solution would be to publicly thank the intern for the amazing cupcakes at the next office meeting. And leave it at that.

  17. @EBA. I like giving him the opportunity to bail out on a possible poorly judged joke gone wrong, while still ultimately holding him accountable however he responds.

  18. I'm recovering from a broken neck. I have a scar that is hidden by my hair. At this point, I can drive and do most of my own daily chores, but, I have a permanent disability and chronic but tolerable pain without narcotics. The pain sufferer mentions "I don't want my life to revolve around cancer." I want to remind the pain sufferer that if that's the case, she needs to recognize how far she's come. People don't see her as somebody with cancer. That's a victory!!!! I usually agree with Philip, but I don't in this case. Sharing the illness with a wider circle will negate the victory that she/he should be celebrating. When somebody complains about sore abs after a workout, my reaction would be 'if you only knew, but you don't, and I'm that much closer to normal because you don't!'

  19. @Justme - By saying this, you are still (somewhat cryptically) telling people you’re in a fair amount of discomfort, but would prefer not to talk about aches and pains together. Most people would probably prefer to hear that directly, and would then respect your wishes, rather than to be made to feel bad about something they didn’t know about.

  20. There's just not enough information in Cinderella's letter to make such a harsh judgment of her character. If her step-mother raised her since she was four and we don't know how old she was when they divorced, this might have been the only mother she's ever known, and her step-grandmother might've served the exact same role as a blood-related grandmother. If she's going to Christmas celebrations with her ex-step family and half-sisters, it sounds like they're all still close. Why should her parents' divorce mean she's now divorced from family members she grew up with? The example of the gifts doesn't necessarily make the letter writer a materialistic person. She's hurt by the present disparity, but that doesn't mean she really wanted that pearl necklace. It just seems like the clearest example she could think of to explain the situation.

  21. @TB Yeah, I really felt for this Cinderella person too. That sounds like a tumultuous childhood, and one in which she likely tried to hang on to people who were supposed to love her.

  22. Anonymous: I once had a boss complain to me about his teeth cleaning appointment as I was (attempting) to leave so I'd be on time for my chemo infusion. At the time, it did not amuse me. Today it does. As you get farther out of treatment, I'm betting it won't bug you so much to hear people complain about the small stuff. Best wishes to you for continued good health!

  23. Reach out to the unpaid intern, thank them, and do something nice for them! And find a way to teach that douchy male coworker a lesson!

  24. The new guy is a creep and I suggest he be called “cupcake” until the day he quits or is fired. If I were his supervisor, I’d be looking for a reason to get rid of a obvious liar.

  25. I recommend your comment because I agree that everyone should call him cupcake from now on. But I really think it’s ok to not consider this that big a deal until further notice.

  26. The suggestion in question three is incredibly elaborate passive aggressive stunt. Why not just talk to the guy? You're supposed to torture him first?

  27. Why the concern for someone who lied by taking credit for something he did not do? Should his feelings really be anyone’s concern? He wasn’t that concerned about the feelings of the employee who actually did bring the cupcakes.

  28. We don’t know it wasn’t a misunderstanding or joke (on a group of people whose gossipy number he may already have, which makes this potentially less weak of a joke than the columnist suggests). Talking behind his back and toying with him over what another commenter called “cupcake gate” is not how people of good will play things.

  29. I agree with Galanes on Cinderella. Why would the ex-step-granny give her anything, except for old times sake? She's not a little girl. She's an adult. This may come as a shock, but people don't give you pearls for nothing!

  30. A dishtowel is so much more useful than pearls.

  31. I agree with the author that the letter writer's concerns seem to be much more about the "things" she didn't get than the relationship with the ex-step-grandmother. Makes me wonder about her priorities. ----------------------------------------------------------- To the woman with cancer....why don't your friends know about it? Seems a huge thing for them to not know about. And why not? You're apparently doing well now which is wonderful, so why not begin by talking more openly to two or more selected friends who can be counted on to spread it among the group. If your arm had been bitten off by a shark, say, they'd know about that....why the secrecy? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As for cupcake boy, some of you should ask him openly, saying something like, "I was told the intern brought them".....and see what he says then.

  32. Thank you, Ethicist, for your honest and sensible answer to “Cinderella.” I like your emphasis on where the responsibility lies for growing and maintaining a relationship, and good on you for calling out the rather peevish complaint about unequal gifts. Time to grow up, Cinderella. Do you ever send your ex-step grandmother gifts or cards for holidays and her birthday? Do you ever phone her to see how she’s doing? Ask her out to lunch? I’m guessing you don’t. I am an aunt to many nieces and nephews. Some of these relatives (now all adults) have, through the years, constantly expected me (and I know they did this to at least one other aunt) to give them stuff — checks for events, meals out, a place to stay — without ever bothering to build a relationship with me. I put up with the bad manners and greediness when they were young (I blamed their parents), but now that they are adults it is on them. So I pick and choose the rellies I want to to maintain contact with. I say no when I want to, without guilt. The truth is that I like some of my relatives better than others, and I feel closer to some than others, and that includes nieces and nephews (a couple of them are adopted, so blood relationship is not the deciding factor in how I feel about them, btw). To be honest, some of the nieces and nephews are not very likable! My guess is that Cinderella’s ex-step grandma feels obligated — not moved — to give a gift, and the towel was not an intentional insult but a neutral offering.

  33. Oops! Sorry! Not Ethicist. I’m not used to Social Q’s having a comment thread, so I thought that was where I was. Senior moment, I guess. Glad this comment option is open now, though. I have wanted to talk back here for some time. ;-)

  34. @Passion for peaches. Passion, I agree whole heartedly but came to it the hard way. As an Aunt I had an experience the opposite of Cinderella’s. Always equally generous, with time and gifts, to my step-niece as with my bio nieces and nephews, I was taken aback when not invited to her prenuptial celebrations. Our travel plans confirmed with the family, the day before the event we flew many hours to attend the wedding. And learned that night of a dinner that all all her biological family and close friends would be attending, but not us. Not just the wedding party, her whole bio-family. The adult equivalent of a dish towel!

  35. For Cinderella, I am closely related to someone like your step grandmother and my advice is to just walk away from that person. They enjoy people vying for their affections and will draw it out for as long as possible. As for being the object of their affection, trust me, it’s not worth it. Be kind and polite, but keep your distance. For the cancer survivor, it is so important that people know that to survive cancer does not mean you walk away unscathed. You don’t need to go into with your friends, but if you could take your experiences publicly, I and so many people who are close to cancer survivor NEED to know this. Be detailed, share tips, and dole out advice! I am close to a cancer survivor and eventually found out how tough the recovery can be from some article - so somewhat timely. I was deeply appreciative of that article and adding your voice to the dialogue would benefit so many people. About the liar, people who lie outrageously keep lying outrageously. If you confronted that person, they would say the intern was lying. They can be a source of divisiveness and morale degradation, get rid of him.

  36. Speaking to cancer survivor: Many, indeed most, people have no idea about the long-lasting physical and emotional consequences of treatment. They don't show and after all, " the cancer is gone, right?" I was lucky enough to be directed to a support group where, 4 years after the end of treatment, I sit with people twice a month who still worry at every checkup or funny mole and can share resilience when we falter. The treatment is punishing but rewarding, obviously. It is hard to explain to people outside the experience.

  37. @Dave Forbes, it’s also hard for people “outside the experience” to know how a cancer survivor wants to be treated. Some people who have experienced extreme illness or injury do not want others tiptoeing around them. They want to get back to normal life, and just be part of the group. Even the letter writer says that he or she doesn’t “want (their) life to revolve around cancer.” What do you want people to do around you? Should everyone in your presence refrain from complaining about anything less than cancer, forever? No. I think there has to be a balance of mutual empathy. It’s not cancer, but I get complicated migraines that make me want to die and just get it over with, quickly. I’ve had multiple bone breaks, extreme and pervasive trigeminal neuralgia. I have disc damage in my neck. I know pain. So when I hear others getting dramatic over the equivalent of a splinter, I sometimes have to bite my lip. But I remind myself that what they are experiencing is a big deal to them. And they just want to be heard.

  38. @Dave Forbes Amen! Thank you for this, from another cancer survivor.

  39. I have several adult grandchildren who have never said thanks for any gifts. I am thrilled they are grown and I no longer send gifts. I have three children. One is adopted while the other two are biological. My in-laws gave nice gifts to the biological children but not the adopted one. After visiting one time, I wrote a nice "thanks for having us visit" note and mentioned that we didn't see them very often and how hard it is to give gifts to kids you don't see. I then requested that a card would be nice for special occasions. I have three children and would not accept them being treated prejudicially. When she did not gift the adopted child, I refused delivery of gifts to the others. We no longer got invitations to visit. A win/win result.

  40. @ExPatMX your children are blessed to have you make a stand.

  41. I have been divorced from my first husband for almost 20 years and remarried for 18. I was always close with my in-laws and made a point (for myself and my children) to stay close. When my ex-step-mother-in-law (my first husband's stepmother) died last year, her daughter and daughter-in-law gave me some pieces of her costume jewelry to remember her by, which made me very happy. Why not?

  42. When I got married, I became an instant stepfather to my wife's daughter. When my wife and I divorced the young woman became my ex-stepdaughter. A few years later she had a child- my ex-step granddaughter. No biological connection here, and she was born after my marriage to her biological grandmother ended. But I send cards and gifts for her birthday and Chanukah.

  43. @Retired Fed, thst’s Now. But it is a choice and not an obligation. And I don’t think it would be a sign of bad character if you didn’t.

  44. @Retired Fed So kind. Step and adopted children sometimes feel different and search for reassurance.

  45. Could barely get through the 1st 2 paragraphs and all I could think was, well doesnt she consider herself the entitled little princess.

  46. @bored critic A rather harsh assessment of a young adult confused coming to terms with the vagaries of her ex step grannie’s gifts. It is human to compare. She is obviously seeking to understand why. She may come from a family where gifts were a symbol of love - usually we spend more money on people we love the most.

  47. @bored critic You were probably conditioned by the subheadline: "A reader wonders why her ex-stepmother’s mother doesn’t lavish her with gifts." A better one would have been "A reader wishes that her step-grandmother wouldn't make a difference between her and her half-sisters."

  48. You cannot make someone care for you. The stepsisters, or more correctly your half sisters, may be as wicked as those in the fairy tale, but nothing will knock off Grandmama's rose colored glasses re them. So send a note or card on Christmas or birthdays but otherwise try to walk away. You cannot change this situation and don't make the mistake of gifting or trying hard to make this happen. Be true to yourself and a good person but don't grovel. A DISH TOWEL?!!! Sheesh! I wouldn't have insulted my office employees with a gift like that.

  49. For the cupcake scenario: I wonder if they should re-evaluate the new co-worker's honesty with respect to his resume. It may be worthwhile to speak with HR.

  50. The generous cupcake co-worker story is so odd as to make me wonder whether there might have been a misunderstanding. Perhaps he thought he was answering a different question, then found himself caught in a situation he was too surprised and embarrassed to handle correctly by setting the record straight. I'd ask him. Lying about having purchased the cupcakes (when an unpaid intern brought them in!) would be beyond crass, it would be trumpesque. If it's real, if he intentionally lied, he needs to be let go. That would indicate a serious and toxic character flaw.

  51. @M. It's also possible that he found out the intern works at a cupcake shop, and really did sponsor the cupcakes that she brought.

  52. @M. Your first suggestion strikes me as likely correct. I’ve been there!— not to take credit for a gift but in general. Someone asks a question and you say “yes” and then before you know it you’re in deep, and it seems too complicated to say “Wait, back at the beginning of this conversation, I said Yes but it was really No.”

  53. My children’s paternal grandparents had rarely acknowledged them before, and no longer acknowledge them at all since the divorce. (My own parents are deceased.) People are reluctant to admit it, but many grandparents have a natural preference for their daughters’ children - modern DNA tests haven’t quite been able to overcome an evolutionary attitude of “mommy’s baby, daddy’s maybe.” Given that reality for biologically related grandparents, it is easy to imagine how much less invested they might be with regard to step-grandchildren. I do sympathize with the [ex]step-granddaughter; it is not fair to treat siblings differently in such an obvious manner... a kitchen towel is a petty gift; no gift at all would have made more sense. There isn’t much that can be done. If “Cinderella” feels a need for a grandmother figure in her life, there are probably other older people with whom she could seek to develop relationships. Despite not having a biological grandmother in their lives, my children will happily name at least 6 “grandmas” they have adopted through the years... (some of whom prefer them to their own biological grandchildren).

  54. Maybe the employee needs a few extra projects if he or she is so worried about cupcake-gate?

  55. @Nicole Engelbert - Having been in a similar situation the real problem is that the new guy is a liar. Someone who will lie and take credit for things they didn't do is toxic and can be a serious problem to work with.

  56. #1 You can't force people to give more than they want to, if you have already told her it makes you feel bad and no equity in gift giving has transpired write this idea off and grow up #2 You can quit putting up such a good front for people who are close to you. #3 Give the new weirdo $$$ every week to go buy treats for the whole office!!! Since he likes buying cupcakes so much!

  57. Perhaps it is not really the pearls Cinderella craves but assurance of the love of her step-grandmother.

  58. Oops. Posted too soon. I meant to write: Perhaps it is not really pearls Cinderella craves but the assurance of the love of her step-grandmother. But getting a dishtowel when others get pearls is certainly a message. There is a saying, You don't go to the hardware store for milk. I hope Cinderella can look elsewhere.

  59. @emb Yes, exactly. She was four or younger when she acquired this stepmother. It's family ties and belonging that she wants.

  60. The step-grandchild is 10 - 15 years older than her younger sisters. Christmas if for kids. I give each of my 22 nieces and nephews a well chosen birthday gift until they reach adulthood, then switch to a card. No dishtowels. The letter writer has 4 bio grandparents. So do her younger sisters.

  61. @ MR Sullivan all we know from the information given is that the age gap is wider than 4 years. It may not be as big as 11 years.

  62. At this point just leave a copy of this column on the new guy's desk. See what happens next. I lean towards a misunderstanding on his part. Who would claim something when the truth was sure to be known? Hopefully he would try to clear up the misunderstanding. If he gives a lame excuse Let him go this time. But if there is a next time get him out of there.

  63. A point of clarification. If Cinderella's stepmother gave birth to daughters while married to Cinderella's father, those girls are Cinderella's half-sisters - also known as sisters, in some circles. It's semantics, I suppose, but I can understand the sting of being considered a "less than" grandchild absent the biological tie. While it's not all about the gifts, a dishtowel is rarely thoughtful and respectful present.

  64. A dish towel is just a step above. The gifts that Harry Potter received from his aunt and uncle. I think one year they sent him a tissue for Christmas.

  65. I am one removed from the cancer situation at my house. It's my husband who just finished treatment for esophageal cancer. He's getting a PET scan today and we'll see the doc Monday to see where we're at. The treatment lasted from January to June (following surgery in November) and at times it has been really awful. There were days I had to stay home with him because I was afraid he'd fall on the way to the bathroom, or be thirsty and unable to get himself a glass of water. Work, and being with friends, was (is) great for my mental health bc otherwise it's all cancer, all the time. Being away for a little, during the workday or at brunch with friends, has helped me to be merry sunshine when my husband needs me to. But I am AT CAPACITY for bad stuff. I care about your toothache and your migraine but right now I can't deal with it. And I appreciate people caring but if I go into detail about what it's like for my husband right now I'll probably start to cry. So I feel for Anonymous. I wish I knew what to tell him/her.

  66. If the support and understanding of a stranger on the internet can bring any comfort, I want to tell you I understand what you've said here. I am so sorry that you're both going through this. I wish there were something I could do to help. For a long time I couldn't give my medical history without crying. Being afraid to start crying because once the tears started it was hard to stop made it hard to communicate about what I was going through.

  67. @Todd Fox Going forward, I will take in your Comments in this light. We never really know what a person is going through. If only kindness was our default. As you said in your other comment, I send you a supportive hug.

  68. Philip's response to the letter writer who is in remission from cancer could have been more compassionate. The LW gave no indication of making their pain in to a contest. (Let's call her she for convenience sake.) She asked for help in dealing with her response when others shared complaints about their own discomfort. The fact that she's having an emotional response to discussions about pain or discomfort suggests to me that she isn't making pain a contest. She is probably suffering from PTSD. PTSD is not confined to veterans of the battlefield. Those of us who have suffered through frightening, life threatening situations or excruciating treatments often suffer from undiagnosed PTSD symptoms. Rather than admonishing her I would recommend gently suggesting treatment. Addressing the etiquette issue she could say "I want to be a supportive friend but since my treatment for cancer it's been difficult for me to listen to discussions about pain. It triggers very uncomfortable feelings for me." I wish the letter writer well and want to tell her that these feelings and reactions will grow less in time. And I'd like to give her a supportive hug.

  69. Unless the ex step-granddaughter is worried about a future inheritance, she just wants a grandmother. There are many older people who would love to have the attention of an 'adopted' granddaughter and would likely shower her with affection. Maybe not gifts, and I hope that's not what she's hoping for. Just warmth and attention.

  70. To Cinderella I move toward people, friends and coworkers, who make me feel good or happy or energized - people I know like and appreciate me. And they are people I appreciate and like back. I move away from people who make me feel the opposite - make me feel bad, feel bad about myself, second guess what I know are honest true parts of myself. Whether I am drawn to them or not. I used to try harder to understand the latter group. It was often a waste of time. When it wasn’t a waste of time, I still chose to move away. And while I have many friends, I am not every one’s “cup of tea”, and that’s ok. It works both ways. The term “move away” might be literally, physically, and time spent. Or if that is not possible, then I move mentally and emotionally as far as I can go, to protect myself, my time and energy. I’m oversimplifying this a bit, but not much. To echo another commenter, you cannot make someone like you. Spend time with and truly appreciate those who care about you and are your true friends. Don’t waste another second on those who don’t. It’s one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

  71. If you're going to say that you decided to emigrate from the US the day after election day, you should expect people to assume the final straw was the previous day's presidential election. Maybe it just so happened that you were offered a job abroad that day, or something else, but that would be quite the coincidence.

  72. Absolutely wrong advice with the granddaughter (step-granddaughter) letter. She is not wrong to feel slighted. She is being slighted. She had nothing to do with the divorce. The grandmother should accept that she never should have accepted her step granddaughter in the first place. Marriages break up and the adults in the room should have known that. Either the girl was a granddaughter or she was "the child of someone who used to be married to her daughter."But real adults don't change the rules when the marriage ends. The grandmother should either send nothing and explain that she has little interest in the faux grandchild (thus showing her true colors) or she could just accept the girl as a family member. That will not happen, so grandma should just admit that she's a fraud and the girl should move on and lear from the example of a flawed stepgramdma.

  73. Just for the record, on a couple occasions (new house, New Year's open house), guests have brought me very nice dish towels that I was glad to receive! they are not always an inappropriate gift.

  74. The cupcake scenario and proposed solution feel just as back-stabby to me as the possibility that the new guy deliberately took credit where none was due. Has any of the behind-the-scenes gossip revealed whether or not he paid for the cupcakes the intern brought in? (It seems like an expense an unpaid intern or bakery might hesitate to bear themselves).

  75. To everyone who's saying how happy they are that the column has comments, you should know that Philip Galanes has a very active Social Q's Facebook page which you can join. You may say, oh why do I need that now? but in fact the comments feature on this column comes and goes.

  76. @MM I read his column faithfully; first time I saw the comments.

  77. @MM I follow this column faithfully. Never saw the comments section. Are you thinking of FloFab?

  78. @MM This column is one of the reasons I stick with NYTimes but supporting FB is not on my agenda.

  79. The person who works in an office that has an unpaid intern should think about that, as well as the cupcakes.

  80. Dear Philip, How generous of you to share your space with your readers. I've always admired your advice and perspective on situations. The bonus for me is when you recommend Netflix viewing as part of your advice. I end up viewing them with great satisfaction. Thank you for your consistent,kind and entertaining, civilized instruction!

  81. A MiL of a friend of mine once returned a Christmas gift, and article of clothing, to the DiL who gave it to her. While beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, the grandmother (RIP) told the DiL "this suits you better than me." The DiL was hurt, as she had chosen the gift in good faith.

  82. As to the first letter, I am reminded of a line from the sage-like movie, Clueless. "You divorce wives, not children." While the tone of the letter may be materialistic, but she got a grandmother when she was 4 and had that doting grandmother until she was 11. Emotionally she's speaking from that place - when grandmas are the only thing better than a new Disney princess movie and gifts are magic. It's also clear that grandma grinched-out on this lass long before she was no longer a relation. I think a little more sympathy might be in order - or at least some advice to talk with her stepmother and grandmother about her feelings, not about objects.