DEAR ABBY: I work with a wonderful, good-hearted young woman who holds a low-paying job. She’s raising three children alone, and I know she struggles to provide the necessities. I have learned that the holidays at their home are pretty meager.
My husband and I have been discussing the many frivolous indulgences at our family Christmas and would like to suggest to our grown children that this year we pool our resources and send the money anonymously to this family a week or so before Christmas. Would it be rude to ask our kids for the money in advance? Unfortunately, there may be a couple who would prefer to receive gifts. How should we handle this? — TENNESSEE READER
DEAR READER: Your impulse is generous. Start now by telling your grown children, “You know, I’ve been thinking …” then discuss what you’re considering and the reasons for it. Make participation in the project voluntary so that those who wish to can contribute the money they would have spent on gifts for you to the fund. Write (small) checks to those who would rather receive gifts than donate to your co-worker. You can’t “force” others to be generous, and frankly, you shouldn’t try.
DEAR ABBY: When visiting friends I usually prefer to stay in a hotel, but my friend insisted I stay at her place so we could have more time to visit and make the most of our weekend together. On my last day, I woke up to find a note on my bedroom door instructing me how to clean the bedroom and bathroom in a specific manner before my departure.
I was mortified, not only by the request but by the way the note was written, requesting that I wipe down the shower walls and tub, and bag my trash. I complied with her request, but I wasn’t happy. I left the bathroom in a cleaner condition than it was when I arrived.
When I got home I sent my hostess a thank-you note for her hospitality. I haven’t spoken to her since.
Over the years, I have entertained many guests in my home. I have always provided them with meals, drinks, towels and a clean room. I have never left a note for anyone to clean. Is there a new etiquette policy for guests that I don’t know about? — STILL UPSET IN SEATTLE
DEAR STILL UPSET: I have never heard of any rule of etiquette that says this was OK. However, the night before you were scheduled to leave, you should have asked your hostess how she would like the room left.
I have “houseguested” in homes in which I was asked to strip the bed and leave my used towels in the laundry room when my visit was over. And as a polite guest, I happily complied. However, I have never been told to scrub a bathroom or been issued instructions on how to do it. If you choose to speak to this woman again, you have nothing to lose by telling her how you felt after reading her note — and I think you should.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.