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Section: behavior, children, family, marriage

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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A Note from Margo:
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!

Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!

Shanika Stewart's Comment
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Momma Reyes's Comment
Dear Daughter-in-Law, what a crazy situation! What stood out to me was that you didn’t want to hurt your husband. I get that. I love my husband too. So let’s brainstorm some solutions because family is important and we know there are no perfect families. Here’s what I’m thinking. Continue to invite your in-laws for family occasions. Ask them, in lieu of gifts, to bring the birthday cake or dessert or side dish. Have them participate in some other way and let them know you’d prefer no gifts. In the end, the important thing is time spent together, not the gifts.

Nancy Brown's Comment
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Reader Comment
Please don't print "Shanika" or "Nancy's" stupid love spell or phony dr. odunga comments any more. They are both useless as their comments. Enough already! Put your stupidity on your Facebook page, not here. As for Momma Reyes's comment to "Daughter-in-Law, I don't think I'd want the in laws to bring something edible either. They most likely would not want to eat what they bring, either and neither would I. Just be forthcoming and tell them you don't want their used and useless 'gifts' any longer and would rather they just stop. I would let husband know my intentions ahead of time and he'd better man up and chime in on the conversation.
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Our Reader to Reader Question of the Week:

Dear Readers,
, My x-girlfriend who lived with my son and I for 16 years died of cancer. Prior before we knew she had cancer-she moved out because of an addiction problem. We did stay very close before she died. Her x-husband an attorney took over her finances and the burial arrangements. I being financially set was okay with that, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.

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"Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other."
-Ann Landers