Dear Alma, I have a problem with my mother-in-law. She does not treat my husband and his brother the same. My husband and I have two grown children—a son and a daughter. Both are living on their own; neither is married; and my son lives in another state. My husband has one brother. He’s gay and doesn’t have any children. I don’t think he ever will. Every Christmas my mother-in-law gives my husband and me $250 each. She gives our adult children $250 each, and she gives my brother-in-law $1,000. We don’t think that’s fair. She’s giving us less money because we are a family. I have a right mind to bring this to her attention. What do you think?—Anita, Chicago
Hold on, Miss Candy Cane, That’s not your right mind speaking. That’s your wrong mind—so don’t you listen. You’ve worked yourself into a tizzy because, basically, you want your MIL to give you and your husband more money. No, wait; or maybe you want her to stop giving your adult children money…I’m confused. Either way, it ain’t your money to regulate. You can’t tell a gift giver how to give. Evidently she’s budgeting $2,000 to spend on her family. Clearly, she’s dividing the amount in half between her two sons. She’s giving one son the full amount, and then she’s dividing the rest by the number of immediate family members of the other. And you have a problem with that? Tough tinsel!
The fact that your MIL gives money, period, is a generous act in itself. Stop scrutinizing her gift-giving practices. Where’s the gratitude in knowing you’re on her gift list and not her other list. You see what I’m sayin? What you and your husband need to do is—drop it. Stop looking for ways to compare the brothers, cause that’s really what this is all about. Everybody’s grown now, so get over it. Christmas is a season filled with priceless holiday traditions. What’s more important than making family memories that will last a lifetime? Before you both are uninvited home for the holidays, check your gift-giving guidebook under the chapter “Common Sense.” I’m sure it mentions that your MIL isn’t obligated to give a Christmas gift to any of you. —Alma