- Advice for your Everyday Life

Dear Ann Landers,
I have always maintained it's the thought that counts when it comes to gifts. In that light, I'd like to know what you think. Over the years, my husband, our children and I have received an odd selection of gifts from my in-laws. They are always used -- from their attic, a thrift shop or a fire sale, or otherwise recycled. We have laughed it off, decided that they are eccentric and disposed of the gifts. I can understand used books, clothing, jewelry and toys, but last Christmas, they went a bit too far. Our teenage son received an assortment of used aftershave -- complete with mildew on the bottles. He just laughed and tossed it in the trash. My husband and I, however, felt insulted. These people are financially well to-do. They see our children only when they visit on birthdays or Christmas. They stay through dinner and leave just before dessert is served. Then, we don't hear from them until the next major event. When we ask them to spend more time with the grandchildren, they make all kinds of excuses for why they can't manage it. After being rebuffed numerous times, our children have stopped asking about them. Ann, if it's "the thought that counts," what thought can there be behind such insulting gifts? I hesitate to ask them, because I do not want to hurt my husband, but I would appreciate your opinion. -- Daughter-in-Law in Englewood, Fla.

Dear Englewood,
Here are a few adjectives: cheap, no-class, stingy, tightwads, and toss in stupid, weird and kooky, since they apparently believe they are getting away with it. How sad that they're missing out on their grandchildren's lives. When their crummy gifts arrive, just toss them in the trashcan, and let it go at that. Would you believe a woman in Minnesota wrote to tell me that last Christmas she got the same fruitcake she had given the woman two years before?

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"Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them."
-Ann Landers