Dear Amy: I have been with my boyfriend for two years now, and we are both in our mid-20s. One of the things that I am increasingly bothered by is our differing attitudes toward gift-giving.
I grew up in a family that threw huge Christmases that centered on the exchange of gifts. Though that sounds vain and superficial, the exchange of gifts is a very meaningful tradition to me.
My siblings and I spend months scoping out (and making) the perfect gifts for each other for Christmas. When the day comes, the best part is not opening your own gifts, but watching with glee as the others open the gifts you gave them.
On the other hand, my boyfriend grew up with very stingy parents who sometimes do not even acknowledge his birthday. This was not for financial reasons, but because of their minimalist values.
Needless to say, he doesn’t really understand my desire to exchange gifts. In our entire relationship, I have not once received so much as a birthday card from him. I was a little heartbroken to realize that, when we got together to exchange Christmas gifts this year, the gift that I spent weeks making for him was countered with, “Your present is that you’re getting really good sex tonight!”
I’m not asking for anything fancy. I would utterly cherish something as simple as a handwritten love letter. Am I being too materialistic? Should I just try to let it go?
A Little Hurt in Houston
Dear Hurt: Speaking of Christmas, at this past year’s celebration in my huge family, several of the young adults were talking about the book “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” by Gary Chapman (2015, Northfield Publishing), which had been making the rounds through the family. This book, first published in 1992 and now updated with many different editions, outlines how differently many people perceive ways to give and receive love.
Chapman says an individual’s “love language” is based on temperament, and also how the person was raised.
You and your boyfriend are giving each other the gifts you would most like to receive. If you received anything handmade from him, your “love tank” would be full. You would feel honored and appreciative. (His gift idea also indicates how you might fill his love tank.)
If he wants you to be happy in your relationship, he will have to figure out how to make the simple gestures that you treasure, and vice versa. And who knows? Really good sex might follow.
Dear Amy: I frequently work at a busy cafe in my hometown, which is also a beehive of activity because it is a college town. I feel so lucky to have a place to go where I can nurse a cup of coffee, use the Wi-Fi and get out of the house for a while. I am self-employed and sometimes I go a little stir-crazy in my house or car.
The only problem with my routine is that I often see people I know; these encounters can soak up literally hours of my day. I don’t blame others for being friendly, but I obviously need ways to indicate that I’m trying to work. Do you have any ideas for how to do this without being rude?
Working Hard, Hardly Working
Dear Hardly Working: This is an increasingly common issue, as more of us head to cafes and coffee shops to do our work (I’m sitting in one now, in fact).
Noise-canceling headphones can work well to basically create a cone of silence; they are also a visual indication to other people that you are otherwise engaged.
You are also going to have to be a little more disciplined during your encounters. If you say, “It is so nice to run into you, but I’m up against a deadline. Can we make a time to catch up later?” it will indicate to your pals that you’re happy to see them, but now isn’t a good time.
I’m sure readers will weigh in with additional suggestions.
Dear Amy: I was really angry when I read the question from “In a Quandary,” whose mother-in-law pressured him to use a handicap parking permit that wasn’t hers.
I am wheelchair-bound. I have actually had to cancel plans when I arrived at a venue and couldn’t enter because I didn’t have access to a parking spot.
Dear Seething: I received a huge volume of responses to this question, all from people who want to respect your right to use a designated parking spot.
Email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.