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Annie Lane: From giving to Grinch

Dear Annie: I have a good one for you, Annie. This past Christmas, I assembled Italian-dinner care packages for two of my neighbors, with jars of my homemade sauce, homemade meatballs, Italian bread and boxes of spaghetti. For one of the neighbors, I also included a nice candle and a throw blanket. She had knee surgery last year, and I wanted her to know I was thinking of her. She has three grown sons so I included a lot of meatballs and sauce. To the other neighbors, I gave just the sauce and meatballs. The young children in that family wrote me a thank-you note.

For one friend, “Sherry,” I made a Christmas tree out of fabric (with lights on it) and a scarf made of pom poms — real pretty. I gave her husband, “Raymond,” an antique truck with small added Christmas trees, like the truck was hauling the trees. I gave another set of friends, “Mary” and “Will,” my crafted tree and truck, too, along with sausage, cheese and crackers.

I got a few gifts from Sherry and Raymond but nothing from Mary and Will or any of my neighbors. I called and left a voicemail with the ones who did give me a gift and asked to give me a call if they were happy with the gifts I gave them. I never heard a work of thanks from anyone. I wasn’t upset they gave me nothing, but I was hurt and upset that I didn’t even get a thank-you. I did call one couple and let them know I would not be exchanging gifts next year. I have had it, doing for others and receiving nothing in return. How rude people are. I work and I have limited time and still I worked hard on the things I gave them and can’t even get a thank-you. What do you think about that?

— No, Thanks

Dear No, Thanks: My advice to your neighbors and friends would be to send thank-you notes when they receive gifts, especially thoughtful homemade gifts like yours. It was inconsiderate of them not to.

But you’re the one who wrote me, so here’s my advice to you. If you want to spare yourself future resentments, give gifts unconditionally or don’t give them at all. You have limited time, as you mentioned, and there are better ways to spend it than inventorying presents and cataloguing grudges.

• • •

Dear Annie: I’d like to share my thoughts for “Not Ready for the Earhorn,” who was frustrated with the volume mix of televisions shows: Please, get your hearing checked. I had the same problem with hearing the TV dialogue. I went to the doctor about it and was diagnosed with hearing loss. My hearing aids are Bluetooth and barely noticeable and have improved my quality life. My mother denied a hearing problem, which I think contributed to her decline due to Alzheimer’s. While there is not a direct causal link, I hope that by seeking this solution for my hearing problems, rather than denying that they exist, I can avoid her problem. — Happy to Hear

Dear Happy to Hear: A study from Johns Hopkins found that even mild hearing loss doubles dementia risk. Between that statistic and your firsthand testimonial, I hope those who might be experiencing hearing loss will be encouraged to make an appointment with an audiologist today.

“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 for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to


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