DEAR AMY: I just had a baby. My mother in-law has already said she will buy us mountains of toys. I believe her. Last Christmas, our niece, who is 4, received nearly 20 toys, including a $500 item, from just my mother-in-law! The child receives gifts from every family member, so it's not like no one else buys things for her. It's like this every holiday/birthday. A million toys, too much money spent, while my mother-in-law is behind on her mortgage and repeatedly asks us for help! I have said to her that at Christmas I don't want too many toys for my child. I was told how horrible that is of me, how dare I deprive a child of playing and that I'm being selfish. My husband tried backing me up on this, but his mom wouldn't hear it. We gave her alternatives, like a college fund, to put the money toward, but she says she'll do whatever she wants. I flat-out told her if we receive too many toys, they will be donated. Now, she is buying toys for an infant, sometimes multiples because she forgets what she bought! I am outraged at her behavior and her blatant disrespect for our wishes. I do not know what to do anymore.
-- Enough Toys
DEAR ENOUGH: Your mother-in-law may have a problem bigger than her overspending issues. If she is forgetting what she has bought and can't seem to pay her bills, she might be struggling with memory or mental health issues.
You and your husband must be on the same page. When you receive a mountain of toys for the baby, ask her to choose one to give to the child and tell her you will return the rest and return the money to her.
Do not act angry or harsh, but loving and firm. Say to her, "We asked you not to do this and we feel very strongly about it. The best thing now would be for you to hold the baby and enjoy her along with us. That's what we really want for Christmas."
DEAR AMY: I very much liked your suggestion to "Bill" regarding a pre-meal blessing for multi-faith/non-faith gatherings, and have another to offer. I was raised Catholic, but have not practiced Catholicism for many years. We also sought a blessing that matched our beliefs, which came to us by way of our children who learned this blessing when they were in day care. It goes like this: "We wish for peace, food, and happiness for people all over the world. Thank you for our food. Amen." It's simple, all-inclusive, a message of heartfelt wishes, and an expression of our own gratitude.
DEAR AMEN: I like it. Thank you.