Dear Annie: I am a 42-year-old woman and have never had a normal relationship with my mother. She says every time she looks at me I bring out the bad in her. I have been hit and called names. She made it clear that she never loved me.
My younger sister had a baby three years ago, and I have not yet seen him or received a picture. The reason? My mother told my sister I said the baby was ugly and my sister believed her. My father is the only person who accepts the truth, and it hurts him that I am treated this way.
For three years, I have been alone for Christmas. My siblings draw names for gifts, but don’t include mine. I buy a present only for my father, and he gets one for me. I have never been invited to join them for the holidays.
I’m so blessed to have my dad, but what am I supposed to do about the rest of my family? Why do they treat me like this? – Another Sad Christmas
Dear Sad: It sounds like there’s more to this story, but even so, if Dad is on your side, he should intervene on your behalf. And if Mom has been telling lies, you need to set the record straight. Contact your siblings individually, apologize for any misunderstandings and ask for a fresh start. If they still treat you with such neglect, we hope you can find good friends who will fill the place of the family that has abandoned you.
Dear Annie: Four months ago, I attended my cousin’s wedding and had a great time. I drove the few hours there and back because I couldn’t afford a hotel room. Because of my financial status, I also had no money for a wedding gift.
Recently my mother told me that the bride’s parents said they hadn’t received a gift from me or my sister. When I mentioned this to my sister, she reminded me that none of our cousins had sent her a wedding gift, although their parents did.
My parents said the subject won’t be brought up again, but I feel irritated. I wanted to share their event with them, but should I have just stayed home because I couldn’t afford a gift? – Broke Cousin
Dear Broke: A gift is customary and appropriate, but it is not mandatory. Unmarried cousins, even adults, are often included in the gift from the aunts and uncles, which might explain why your sister didn’t receive one from your not-yet-married cousin. However, once children are adults and living independently, they are responsible for their own presents. If you could not afford a gift, it would have been proper to send a card with your best wishes.