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.