Dear Abby: My mother-in-law sent my 7-year-old son a gift and a card for his birthday. They arrived about a week early. A few days before his birthday, she called and asked if he had received them. He said he had, but before he could explain that he hadn't opened them, she started talking about the gift inside, revealing the surprise.
I have now "heard" she's upset with me and my son for this awkward moment. She says that from now on she would like a phone call when her cards or gifts arrive, so she can "hear his enjoyment over the phone even if they arrive early." I don't think my son did anything wrong.
When a gift arrives in advance of an occasion, must it be opened immediately? Or can it wait for the actual birthday or Christmas? Sometimes he likes to open one present at a time, write a thank-you note, then open the next, stretching out his gift-opening over a few days. Is this a social no-no? – Wondering in Washington
Dear Wondering: Gifts are usually opened the day of the occasion. When the occasion is a birthday, the usual expectation is that the presents will be opened at the party. At that time a verbal thank-you is offered. A thank-you note should be written a very short time later.
Your mother-in-law may have called for reassurance that her gift had arrived. She should not have revealed what it was. You did nothing wrong. The mistake was hers.
Dear Abby: My good friend "Derek" is in his 30s and just started his first serious relationship. He told me after a week together that she was "the One" and that he loved her. I told him I was happy for him and suggested he take things slow so they could really get to know each other.
I had a party two nights ago where he introduced his new girlfriend. They spent most of the time making out like teenagers in front of everyone. Some guests were so uncomfortable they left early.
I haven't seen Derek since, and I'm worried not only that he's moving too fast to make up for lost time, but that he's doing it with someone who also is oblivious to how socially unacceptable their behavior was. I'm not sure how to express my concerns to my friend without hurting him. – Concerned in California
Dear Concerned: It would not be rude or hurtful for you to mention to Derek that you think the girl is "great" – but the show they put on at your party made some of your other guests so uncomfortable they left early. Let's hope the "hint" is sufficient.
Dear Abby: My 10-year-old daughter told a friend she would go to a concert with her a few months ago. Since then, my daughter decided to end the friendship because the girl was clingy, dramatic and controlling.
Do I insist my daughter go to the concert as she said she would, or let her off the hook? The friend seems to be hoping she will go so they can renew the friendship, but my daughter has no plans to do it. Please help! – Managing Discord in Minnesota
Dear Mom: If the girl is expecting your daughter to go to the concert with her, your daughter should tell her she does NOT plan to attend so the girl can invite someone else. Do not insist that your daughter associate with anyone who makes her feel uncomfortable. Her reason for pulling back from that relationship showed good judgment.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.