Q: My son's 50th birthday is coming up, and, unfortunately, I'm not in the financial situation to throw him a large party or buy an expensive gift. Now that I'm retired and on Social Security, I no longer feel comfortable with those expenditures.
I'm ashamed to admit that I can't get too involved with this celebration, and I don't quite know how to deal with it.
What do you think I should do?
A: First and foremost, get over your feelings of shame. They don't change your financial situation. In fact, they are preventing you from celebrating your son's milestone.
Shame is a sign that you are internalizing and obsessing about your own circumstances. However, this holiday is about him.
Instead of feeling ashamed, do what you can! Many people have been in your same situation, but you don't want your fear to hold you back from participating.
A positive and loving attitude is often far more important than any material gift. Ask yourself what's in your budget, and make it happen.
What is most important is that you continue to express your love and commitment to your family even when times are rougher.
Try making a handwritten card and a homemade gift to express how much your son means to you. Personalized details are often far more impactful than extravagance. Another idea is to pass along some of your family treasures, like a book or photo album.
You can also spend time with him — two great options are choosing an event for which you can volunteer or visiting a museum that interests him.
These are memories that he'll hold with him long after you're gone. How many gifts do you remember receiving from your parents? Odds are that you've forgotten many of them, but you probably remember the celebrations you shared.
A happy, smiling face and thoughtful comments often outshine gifts. Tell your son how much he means to you, and share some of your most treasured memories with him. If he has a party, you can prepare an anecdote to share with others.
No matter what you do, stay positive! Attitude is everything. — Doug
Q: In my opinion, customer service has been getting steadily getting worse.
Recently, I had an issue with some electronics I bought and have been trying to follow up. I keep finding myself on hold or redirected to another department. It seems impossible to get in touch with someone who will help me!
How can I best solve my complaints?
A: To process your complaint, make decisions about your expectations, and do your best to communicate them politely.
Be clear about whether you are asking for a full refund or would accept a replacement. This will speed up the process.
Your best bet is to go into the store and speak to the associates.
Few customer service representatives have decision-making power. Fortunately, physical stores have a more proactive policy and may be able to resolve your problem. If not, you should ask for their supervisor's name. But try not to let your frustration overwhelm your manners.
Smart supervisors want to retain their customers and will try their best to compromise. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected]sn.com. Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.