DEAR AMY: I have been dating my boyfriend for over a year. We feel like we are very serious about one another. His older siblings and their spouses do a long-distance gift exchange each year. It originally started out at $50, but last year it increased to $100. Each person sends his/her gift requests to everyone in the group and names are pulled at random and secretly assigned by one sibling’s secretary.
These gifts are then purchased and sent to the respective recipient and then we Skype one another on a certain date/time and open the gifts “together.” It seems foolish and materialistic to me.
My boyfriend included me in his family’s gift exchange plans without consulting me first. I reluctantly agreed to it. I tried asking my boyfriend to negotiate a better price point, but he said if I didn’t want to participate I could back out.
I have only met these family members once. Part of me wants to suggest nonprofit organizations they could donate to on my behalf, but I don’t want to make any enemies. How do I walk this line?
DEAR WALKER: Nothing screams “the most wonderful time of the year” quite like a “secret Santa” contest staffed out to an administrative assistant and followed up by a Christmasy conference call.
You and your guy could approach this as a team, so you share both the gift and the burden of gifting. List your favorite charity on your “wish list.”
However, please remember that $100 is not a minimum or a requirement — it’s most likely a limit on the amount spent. This is an important distinction.
I suggest you attack this by getting crafty. A tin of homemade gingerbread men decorated to look like the recipient would be a fun, thoughtful reaction to this competitive-sounding gift exchange.
DEAR AMY: I am 81 and she is 76. We are widow/widower. We met on a fishing/hiking trail in 2012. She was hiking the two-mile trail and I was fishing it.
We are two extremely fit people, hiking and fishing at high altitudes. We developed a casual relationship (no physical contact, etc.) and enjoy being together. Our relationship has potential.
She has invited me to an afternoon holiday party, but balked when I suggested staying overnight. I will be driving 240 miles round trip over snowy mountain roads. I can afford a motel. Am I asking too much, or am I fishing in the wrong creek?
Tired of Fishing
DEAR TIRED: My feedback is that you basically bungee jumped your way over several important courtship steps in your eagerness to get to the bedroom.
You might need to crowbar this relationship out of the friend zone, and you should do it the old-fashioned way: dinner, candlelight, music and conversation. Express your interest without applying pressure.
Book a room. Go to the party. Hope for a snowstorm.
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