A family member keeps setting up fund-raisers every time she wants to buy something for her family. If a child needs a special class, she asks the relatives to pitch in to pay for it. When her husband wanted to return to college, she brought all the extended family together to see who could contribute.
She has now set up a fund-raiser for family and friends to raise $6,000 to send her teenage daughter to an expensive performing arts camp. I think this is extravagant. If they can't afford it, they should select a camp they can afford or have the 16-year-old go out and earn the money. I also think they should be saving for college rather than camp.
This woman's father was a preacher, and sometimes, I think she never got the message that fund-raising is usually for charity, not for individuals who happen to need some cash. Am I wrong to be embarrassed by what she's doing, or is this a new normal?
- Embarrassed in Texas
DEAR EMBARRASSED: You say your relative is the daughter of a preacher. There is a saying in the Bible, "Seek and ye shall find." Another way of putting it is, "It never hurts to ask." If you feel your relative is using others for something that should be her responsibility, you are free to just say no, and to do so without embarrassment.
I'm retired and have the time to sew and quilt projects, which I give as gifts. I presented a "Quilt of Valor" to my father to honor his military service. I also gave a sibling one of my personalized projects as a birthday gift.
Abby, when we visited their home recently, I was horrified to see one of their dogs sleeping on one of the pillows I had made for them. When the dog woke up, it proceeded to scratch itself and then drag the hair-covered pillow through the house. I have been asked to make a quilt for a disabled child living at home who also has a dog that sleeps on her bed.
I no longer want to invest my time and energy after what happened to my gift. I feel unappreciated. Would it be wrong to refuse the request and say something about "gift abuse"?
- Sew Perplexed in the Northwest
DEAR SEW PERPLEXED: Verbalizing your refusal would be undiplomatic. Regardless of the fact that your hard work wasn't appreciated as you hoped it would be, I do not recommend that you accuse the family of "gift abuse." It appears they're dealing with more important issues right now.
My husband and I have been together for 21 years. I'm extremely social, while he is not. For the last six to 10 years, he has become increasingly resistant to going out in public places, especially when it involves getting together with my family or friends.
During last year's holidays, I pleaded yet another "sudden illness" on his behalf. I feel he makes himself ill with anxiety so he can bow out at the last minute. When I cancel plans we have made - which is often - he generally "feels better" after we cancel. It's frustrating. While I am sympathetic, I'm tired of making excuses, knowing he's probably fine. What can I do?
- Social Butterfly in Portland, Ore.