Etiquette Questions, Answered: Holidays and Gifts
Q: I’ve been giving/sending a Christmas gift to my friend’s “child,” who is now 33, since he was a baby. He is now married, lives at a distance, and I never see him. How do I stop the gifting? I intended to stop last year, but he sent me a gift, so I felt I had to reciprocate. Help!
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York
A: You sound like the cigarette addict who says “I can stop at any time!” but you can’t! Because the answer to your problem lies right in your own hands: Stop the madness. Back away from the department store and the packing tape and the post office. I promise you, if you’re feeling like you want to get off of this gift-giving merry-go-round, there’s a mighty good chance your friend’s son feels the same way, but one of you has to stop first, and I nominate you. It was a lovely tradition for you to send your friend’s son a gift all these years, but if you’re feeling that the time for that tradition to end has come, listen to that little voice and don’t worry about who got whom the last gift. And be prepared, he might continue to send you a gift even after you stop sending them, but THAT’S OKAY. This is not a tit-for-tat contest. A gift is not a contract. He’s an adult. He knows you care about him. He’ll be fine. And, of course, if you want to continue sending a holiday card to stay in touch, that’s okay, too. But I hereby give my blessing and encouragement to mark this season as the end to a tradition whose time has come and gone. You’ll never look back!