Dear Annie

Friend's gifts are duds

Dear Annie: Christmas has just passed, and once again, I find myself hurt and insulted by my best friend’s gift.

I always take such care and pride in choosing just the perfect gift for everyone on my list. To me, gifting is a loving gesture, and even if someone chooses something for me that is not perfect, I get pleasure knowing that the person thought of me when choosing the item.

But every year, when I open my best friend’s gift, I am disappointed. We’ve been best friends for 30 years. This year was the worst. It was as if she went through her drawers and gave me everything she didn’t want. She gave me foot lotion, a DVD I will never watch, a shirt and a bottle of wine. The foot lotion was in a box that was all tattered and worn. The shirt was her size, not mine, and it smelled like old perfume. The wine was sweet red, and she knows I drink only dry. To top it all off, it was all thrown in a ragged gift bag that said “Happy Birthday”!

I was so hurt. I spent days looking for the perfect gift for her, and I spent a lot of money. I also gave her a huge container of homemade Christmas cookies and candy that she loves.

I have never been one who cares much about what I get; I get my pleasure from giving and knowing I made someone happy. But I just cannot help but be hurt. I haven’t spoken to her since Christmas, and she has been texting me, asking whether I liked the gifts. Am I being overly sensitive or selfish by feeling the way I do? Should I confront her about this?

— Feeling Used in New York

Dear Feeling: It sounds as if you’re gifted in the art of finding someone just the right present, and that’s great. But not everyone is the type. Presents may not be that big of a deal to your friend, or perhaps money’s too tight for her to go all out. She did at least try to put something together. If she’s a good friend in all other respects, be thankful for that. Keep staring the gift horse in the mouth and it’s liable to take a bite out of your friendship.

Dear Annie: My partner and I took in a young homeless man and have come to find out he has a mild mental illness. Our problem is figuring out how to include him in activities. We want him to feel that he is welcome and a part of the family. He does go to what he calls classes, but when he comes home, he goes back to his room. Any ideas on how to make him feel wanted and welcome?

— Concerned in Kentucky

Dear Concerned: It will take time for him to adjust to his new life and be comfortable, so let him have the space he needs. He’s probably accustomed to keeping people at a distance. But a great and important place for familial bonding is the dinner table. Make a habit of cooking for him and eating together as a family every night.

Beyond that, seek help from a licensed counselor. Mental illness, like any illness, can become more serious and debilitating if left untreated. It was very kind of you and your partner to take this young man in, and now the kindest thing you can do is find him the help he needs.