Dear Annie: I always enjoy sharing my baked goods and also my soups with my neighbors. Some will return the favor by making items for me. I never expect them to reciprocate, though I know I always try to reciprocate when people do things for me.
I'm writing to you because now someone is giving me presents that I really don't want. I am always thankful, but I do not like any of the items. I know I need to be thankful. But I do not like to lie, and I would rather have just a thanks for my baked goods and soups instead of thank-you gifts that I do not like at all!
Normally, I would just donate the items to a church, but I am too afraid that this friend will be looking for me to use the items. And, of course, I do not want to hurt her feelings. What is your suggestion? — You Shouldn't Have
Dear You Shouldn't Have: "The true purpose of a gift is to be received," writes minimalist expert Marie Kondo in her bestselling "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," and I couldn't agree more. When someone gives you an unwanted gift, receive it gratefully; recognize the warm-hearted intention behind it; and write them a thank-you note. Then donate it (or return it, if they've included a gift receipt) without guilt. If you want to head off future unwanted gifts from this friend, simply tell her: "I appreciate your thoughtfulness, but you really do not need to get me anything. Your friendship is enough." If she's been spending money on the items she's giving you, and if she seems determined to continue doing so, you might politely tell her that you have more than enough material things but that you'd love to see more donations to a charity you support.
Dear Annie: This is in response to the lady who complained about how people hold their fork and knife. Your response was very true. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and as my hands have gotten worse, holding things is a real challenge. I used to peel potatoes in a few minutes, but it now takes many times as long. I also park in a handicapped spot. Some days, I can move fairly easily; other days, it is a challenge to just get out of my car. I have other friends with osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease who have similar problems.
I learned long ago not to judge by appearance. Thank you for explaining that things aren't always what they seem. — Mary W.
Dear Mary W.: I'm sorry that you're struggling with rheumatoid arthritis. I'm happy to print your letter to again amplify the message that others' suffering and limitations are not always readily apparent.
Dear Annie: Your advice to "Left Behind" would be poor advice in some states. As a Washington state lawyer, I can tell you that Washington has what is called a "committed intimate relationship," in which unmarried partners may have community property like rights in each other's property. Also some states have common-law marriage.
"Left Behind" should consult a lawyer with a family law practice in her state to find out if she has any rights. — Regular Reader in Vancouver, Washington
Dear Regular Reader: I'm embarrassed to say that I failed to get the complete picture when researching my answer. I'm printing your note to correct the record for "Left Behind" and anyone else in her shoes. Contacting a lawyer is the best bet. Thanks for writing and setting me straight.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]