DAME’s Friendkeeper tackles the holidays offering help with handling an inconsiderate present giver and a hard-partying pal.
I have a good friend who always does something really irksome this time of year. Whenever our birthdays roll around we take each other out to dinner—a fantastic arrangement as far as I’m concerned. But at Christmas (for me it’s Hanukkah), she insists on exchanging gifts. The thing is, everything she gives me is clearly regifted—a book with a coffee stain on the page, a sweater with the tags off, etc. It drives me nuts because I don’t even want to exchange gifts. I end up buying her something nice that I really don’t have the money for and I get her old scented candle.
What do I do?
Second Hand Rose
Well, you could have a little fun with it. Like if she gives you her old sweater say, “Hey, you have the same one! Let’s wear them together?” Or you could just say, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings but this isn’t exactly what I want, do you have a receipt?” Yeah, you could do that. Or you could just chalk it up to a personality quirk. One of my most terrible qualities (I’m working very hard on it in a support group for stingy beeayatches) is that I feel like everything needs to be even. Like, if I invite you to dinner, you must invite me back before I invite you again. If you give me a present, I give you the same kind of present. My ex-husband is an incredibly generous guy and he used to argue with me when I’d say, “Don’t give the Huckabees a $100 vase, last year they gave us a vintage paperback!” And he’d say, “I want to give this to them, I don’t care what they give us.” And don’t even get me started on his friends who didn’t bring a wedding gift. WHO DOESN’T GIVE A WEDDING GIFT? And they were already married so I couldn’t even slam them back. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, in the spirit of the season, don’t look at what she’s giving you. Give her what you want. If it pisses you off to give her a real nice thing, then pull a book off your shelf and slap a bow on it. God bless us, everyone.
The holidays are my favorite time of year, not least of which because of all the fun gatherings. But I have this one friend who kind of ruins it for everyone by getting wasted. And I mean wasted. Not just too drunk to drive home, but belligerently tossed to the point that she pretty much needs a baby-sitter to make sure she doesn’t fall, break anything, or start unnecessary fights. She hasn’t always been this way, but it seems to be a given these days and, frankly, I’m tired of dealing with it. When I’ve casually mentioned her drinking habits in the past she’s simply brushed them off but with holiday dinners and a New Year’s getaway in the works, I don’t want her benders to take the life out of the party (or put too much into it—we’re in our late 30s for chrissakes, hangovers are no joke). Is it rude if I don’t invite her? Should I stage some sort of actual intervention? Do I just need to suck it up and deal with her behavior till this drinking phase passes? Please help, before I resort to padlocking my liquor cabinet.
Too Drunk to Friend
It’s really two things—saving your parties and saving your friend. And of course we know what’s more important: the parties. KIDDING, come on! I don’t really know what to say about your friend. You say it hasn’t always been this way. Is she going through something now that maybe you can offer assistance with? Is someone in her family ill? Is she having job problems? Why don’t you invite her to lunch and talk and see if you can get to the root of it without bringing up the binge drinking. If it’s not something like that, and it looks like she is developing a serious drinking issue that’s affecting her life (clearly it’s affecting yours if you don’t want her at your parties) and she’s a good friend, then you should talk to a professional. If she’s not a good friend then I might talk to someone who is closer to her. Because it sounds like at the very least she is heading for danger.
If it’s at all possible to not invite her to the parties (i.e. she won’t find out) then don’t. But this is a much bigger issue and one you may not want to be dealing with alone.
Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.
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