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Ask Lisi: Criticizing grandmother's gift is rude, ungrateful

When someone sends a gift, you thank them. Period.

Dear Lisi: I have two grandchildren in another province. Actually, children of my stepchildren. I have not seen them for many years. One is 30, the other 16.

I have sent them money for Christmas and birthdays and get thank you’s then. But I never hear from them in between. The older one sometimes remembers my birthday with an email.

This Christmas, I decided to send jigsaw puzzles. I didn’t hear from either of them. Then got a small gift from the mother of one. I sent a thank-you email. She responded and told me they had no patience or space for puzzles.

Is this the new norm? If you don’t like a gift, you don’t thank the giver? The next birthday comes up in a few months. I feel that sending an email or an e-card would be enough, or maybe forget altogether?

I am in my early 80s. Am I just too old to understand the mores of today’s world?

Fed up grannie

Grannie, you are not in the wrong; your step-grandchildren and their parents are. You are not too old to understand anything. That is NOT the new norm; that is rude, disrespectful and ungrateful. When someone sends a gift, you thank them. Period.

In this case, the mom could have re-gifted the puzzle and you would never have known. You live in different provinces. No, her response was rude and unnecessary.

Moving forward, do what feels right for you. If you don’t want to reach out, don’t. If you want to send an email or e-card, go right ahead. But don’t waste your time and money sending any more gifts.

Dear Lisi: My husband never leaves our house. Years ago, when the children were little, no one was ever home. We used to joke how the house would miss us during the day.

Then he quit his job, went out on his own, and started working from home. I didn’t mind as he has an independent home office where he can shut himself off from the rest of the house. The kids were still young enough that I was busy with them before school, at lunch, and after school. So, we weren’t in each other’s hair.

Fast forward to the pandemic when everyone was home. We tried to make the most of it. Fortunately, our house is big enough to accommodate everyone working from their bedrooms, and our communal space was still left for recreation and relaxing. But my husband thought he could jump in on the lunchtime activity.

Since there was nowhere for me to go anyway, I was happy to make my kids lunch. It lasted almost two hours because of their schedules, but gave me the chance to check in on each one and have some private time. I made enough food for my husband to have, but I’m not a restaurant or a waitress.

We got through that, and thankfully, the world has opened up once more and we can all live life as normally as we used to. Not my husband. He refuses to leave the house. Ever. I need my space, and some privacy. How can I get him to just go outside for a walk?

Suffocated Wife

If he’s seriously never going outside, you have a bigger problem on your hands than your privacy. He could simply be a homebody, or he could have agoraphobia. Either way, he’d benefit from some professional guidance. I say that because even if he’s just a homebody, his behaviour is having a negative effect on your relationship and you’ll want to seek some form of couples therapy if change doesn’t occur.

FEEDBACK regarding the employee who doesn’t give off a good first impression (Jan. 25):

Reader – “Does anyone acknowledge her presence? Does anyone just engage her in small talk or ‘water cooler’ talk? Does anyone include her on coffee runs?

“You can attract more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.

“You will be amazed how much you can learn about her just by engaging in some small talk. She may actually want to ask the employees for their advice, but just does not know how to ask.”

Lisi – That last paragraph may be true, but I think you’re focused on the wrong angle. The employees don’t have a problem with her. As mentioned in the original letter — “She’s a nice person and a good worker. None of us want her fired. We just want her to be softer, kinder, more congenial and more personable both in person and on the phone.”

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: or

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