Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I are scaling back on our personal possessions. We plan to have an estate sale in a month. My wish is to donate the proceeds from the sale to a local charity or to our late son's alma mater. We want to invite our many cherished nieces and nephews and their adult children and grandchildren to attend a "pre-sale" so that they can have first choice. My husband says that this will make our extended family feel obligated to pay for what they choose. I don't see why that is a problem. Many of our possessions have considerable value and I don't want to host a "grab fest." Please give us your unbiased opinion to help us decide how to proceed with planning this project without a feud.
Trying to Decide Well
DEAR TRYING: If your goal is to sell your things and raise the maximum amount of money to donate to charity (a great idea, by the way), then yes, price these items at fair market value and offer your family members the chance to buy early. Many people would appreciate this early-bird opportunity.
Your characterization of the idea of giving (rather than selling) items to family members as a "grab fest" reveals a rather dim view of these family members, however.
Downsizing is an important process of letting go. I hope you and your husband are truly ready to do this.
I suggest that you two choose one family-related or otherwise specially selected item of modest value to give to each family member, including young children. Tag these things with their name and a sentence of why you want them to have this specific item. Give these things to them at the family pre-sale and stand firm on your choice to sell the rest of your collection.
One of my happiest memories from childhood is related to dispersing my grandparents' possessions after their deaths. The stories spilled out! I like the idea of doing this with your family while you are able to control and enjoy the process.
DEAR AMY: I am 21 years old and have been openly gay since high school. I have been dating a 27-year-old man whom I love with all my heart. We've been together for two years. He is a closeted "bisexual." I know he cares about me and loves me with all his heart but we are constantly arguing because he has to keep me a secret. My family has grown to love him and so have I. I know what I want in life and what I want in the future, but he does not. He says he might want kids or a wife in the future but that he's very happy with me and loves me. He says he's going to try to be more open but hasn't changed much for the last year. I honestly don't know what to do anymore. I understand being scared and in the closet. He has extremely religious and ignorant parents. I need something set in stone, something more real to show me how seriously he views our relationship, but he has nothing to offer but words and empty promises. I just don't want to look back on this and realize that maybe this was no more than a fling and he was a coward.
DEAR DISTRAUGHT: All promises are empty -- until they are fulfilled. Your boyfriend is 27 years old. Leaving his closeted sexuality out of it, you are with someone who is stating, "I might want to have a family one day, but definitely not with you." Being on the down-low is death to your self-esteem. I hope you find someone who will love you out in the open, and exactly as you are.
DEAR AMY: I have to comment on the letter from "Living In The Moment," who has issues with his wife's habit of verbalizing sexual expectations throughout the week: Are you kidding me? I know dozens of guys who would pay money just to hear their wives utter words like this just once, let alone several times per week! Man, some guys don't know a good thing when they have one!
Amazed in Rochester
DEAR AMAZED: Many men echoed your response.