The Joy of Comparing

By Annie Lane

January 23, 2018 3 min read

Dear Annie: I read your column daily and always like your tough love and sensible advice. I'm interested in what your advice would be in the following situation. It involves gift giving at Christmas for nieces and nephews. My daughter does not feel that her brother gave as much to her sons as she did to his daughter and two stepchildren. She feels she was far more generous than he was. I understand that this is not my problem but am curious about what your advice would be to her. Expense is not an issue. Also, my son's wife does not involve herself in shopping for gifts for his nephews. It may be that men just shop differently than women. — Dreading Next Christmas

Dear Dreading Next Christmas: I think that if your daughter is going to get out the abacus and compare receipts, she and your son ought to just skip buying presents for each other's children next year. Instead, the children could do a secret Santa among themselves — crafting gifts or using allowance money to buy small items, depending on their ages — so that they might learn the joy of giving.

Dear Annie: I have an 88-year-old friend who can't hear and refuses to get tested for a hearing aid. I have talked with her many times about this situation, but she either makes excuses about her hearing problem or gets angry and refuses to discuss the issue. She just smiles and nods when people try to talk to her or tells them she can't understand them. Talking on the phone with her is impossible. And her hearing problem has gotten her into trouble when she's at appointments with doctors, as she sometimes misses what they tell her.

The cost is not an issue, because she could easily afford hearing aids, and I have offered to drive her to any appointments. You cannot have a conversation with her, and she is becoming more isolated and distracted in her interactions with others. I am losing patience with her. Help! — Frustrated Friend

Dear Frustrated Friend: Denial can be a dangerous coping mechanism, but it's a coping mechanism nonetheless — so your friend will cling to it until she's ready to let go. Continue encouraging her to get her hearing tested, and even suggest getting your own hearing checked at the same time. If she were to feel less singled out, she might feel less defensive and more open to the idea. There are some rudimentary hearing tests available online. You could pull one up on your phone, tablet or computer the next time you're together. These online tests are no substitute for medical attention, of course, but might be a good first step to get her moving in the right direction.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected] To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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