Ask Amy

Friday, December 11, 2009 at 12:39am

DEAR AMY: My ex-husband and I divorced more than a year ago. We had a pretty clean break because we both felt the need to move on.

I asked him casually if I could have my Christmas ornaments back. He said yes, but he asked if we could arrange it for the next year, when he would be back in the attic again.

The only reason I want these ornaments is that they are personalized and from my grandmother, who died shortly before the divorce proceedings.

None of this is included in our divorce decree.

I've contacted him three times - twice via text and once via e-mail - but he hasn't replied, so I assume he isn't willing to give back these items.

I know I have no legal recourse because we did not explicitly state this in the divorce decree, but these ornaments are the only remembrance of my grandmother I have.

Is there a polite way to continue with this, or should I accept this loss?

- Only Want Ornaments

DEAR WANT: This operation would go much more smoothly if you had access to my Aunt Jean's pound cake. Because you don't, you're going to have to make your own.

Give your ex a heads-up by contacting him to say, "I'm planning to swing by to drop off some Christmas sweets later today (name a time when he's likely to be home). I'd love to pick up granny's ornaments while I'm there."

Go to the house at the appointed time. If your ex isn't there, leave the good will goodies. A dose of holiday guilt should get him up to the attic.

If being nicey-nice doesn't work, contact your lawyer. There might be a loophole in your document through which you could gingerly pull grandma's ornaments.

DEAR AMY: Our 16-year-old son is fairly clueless when it comes to girls. An acquaintance of ours is an aggressive mother with a 17-year-old daughter, and she has made every effort to push her daughter toward our son.

He reluctantly goes on the little dates the mother sets up - dinner, movies, nature walks, etc. - but he doesn't like this girl and doesn't know how to say no.

I want to encourage him to learn to communicate honestly, but also to respect someone's feelings.

Should I just stay out of it, or is there a nice way to say to this mother that maybe she should cool it?

- Concerned Mother

DEAR MOTHER: You should talk with your son to discern how he would like to deal with this. You could run through some sample "scripts" with him in which he says to the girl, "I'm not really comfortable with this, so I hope it's OK if we don't do stuff together."

Sixteen is a tender age for boys, and it is not unusual for girls at that age to be more aggressive. In this case, you don't mention whether you think the girl is interested in him or if her mother is driving the dating train.

I agree with you that your son should find ways to handle this sort of situation, but if he isn't ready or able, you should offer to help.

You can contact the other mom to say, "Andy isn't ready to do the dating thing yet, so let's back off and not push our kids together, OK?"

DEAR AMY: Last year you ran a column about nieces and nephews who never acknowledge holiday gifts.

The writer suggested substituting charitable giving in their names. We did this many years ago with my sister's three very "entitled" and self-centered children.

Because we live at a distance, I would always carefully shop, wrap and ship gifts into a black hole of ungratefulness. No response, even from the parents. Finally, we did charitable giving in the children's names.

Again there was no response, but at least we knew we were doing some good with our money.

Many years later, these children (now adults) have turned out exactly the way you would expect.

Conversely, my husband's family always taught and modeled appreciation and gratitude.

Today, these adult children are caring, responsible and respectful. What a gift these parents provided to their kids when they took the time to teach them to express their thanks.

- Lesson Learned

Parents, take heed!

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Filed under: Lifestyles

1 Comment on this post:

By: NewYorker1 on 12/11/09 at 9:15

My solution the the Christmas gift giving is that I have completely stopped buying gifts for family and friends. I only buy for myself and I am so grateful and appreciative of my gifts to myself. Happy Holidays.