Dear Annie: It was a wonderful Christmas season. However, I'm finding myself more guilt-ridden than ever. Here's why:
My wife and I are "gifters." We like to think of all the people in our lives whom we can think of — near, far, wherever they are — and try to give them something. Most of the gifts are fairly nice. For people we don't know so well or aren't so close to, we'll buy smaller gifts. We feel everyone should get something on Christmas.
We often will do a big baking day, making cookies and candies and cakes and all the lovely Christmas sweets you can think of. Those go into Christmas tins wrapped with bows and ribbons and partnered with other gifts. We feel they are wonderful gifts.
However, we always find that people are spending way more on our gifts than we are on theirs. Sometimes it's substantially more than we would ever spend. For example, a friend might give us a gift worth $60 when we spent $20 on her gift.
I'm left feeling as if our gifts weren't good enough. (Not that anyone has ever said that.) We get some really great stuff, and I just feel at the end of the season as if we didn't give enough. Any way to cure my anxious thoughts for the next season? - Guilt-Ridden Christmas Giver
Dear Guilt-Ridden Christmas Giver: Rid yourself of that guilt, because it's the thought that counts, and it's incredibly thoughtful of you and your wife to make gifts. Homemade gifts require more thought and labor than store-bought ones. Perhaps the friends who are showering you with expensive gifts recognize that and want to go out of their way to thank you for your efforts. So stop putting yourself down. Start acknowledging the joy you've brought others.
Dear Annie: I am a female tool and die maker and model maker. I've experienced a lot of sexual discrimination and harassment in the years of my career. When I was working for a company in the early 1980s, I had a foreman who kept flirting with me while I was trying to do my job. This man had a wife and five children, by the way.
When I told him to go away because I had work to do, he punished me by giving negative (false) feedback in my next performance review. I refused to sign the review. He said I would have to meet with the manager, so I did. The manager said he did not understand how I couldn't read a print, because I had been able to the previous year. But he still believed the foreman's feedback and refused to really hear me out. That was as far as it went. I left that company a year later for a better salary elsewhere. During my exit interview, I made sure to let the company know that the foreman was part of the reason it was losing me. He was demoted back to the bench. In my opinion, this wasn't enough, but in the '80s, this was more than what was usually expected in terms of company action. I still consider it a victory, though, albeit a small one. — Louisville Machinist
Dear Louisville Machinist: I am sorry that you were harassed. Kudos for speaking up at a time when it wasn't easy to do so. And congratulations on a long and successful career in a challenging industry.
To anyone experiencing workplace sexual harassment and wondering about what recourse is available, visit the U.S. Department of Labor's website and enter "sexual harassment" in the search bar.
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