DEAR ABBY: I am a gay man who has had a difficult, distant relationship with my only brother, “Bill.” He has made many nasty, homophobic remarks, and my partner, “Jon,” has been excluded from many family gatherings. Because Jon wasn’t welcomed, I also did not attend those gatherings, and I endured further wrath because I didn’t.
Bill’s daughter has just announced that she is a lesbian. His reaction is mystifying. He has embraced her and her partner and has lovingly included them into the heart of the family.
I am happy that my niece has found love and support. I am also jealous that she has a better father than I did a brother. Are my feelings justified? — Sad Sibling in Virginia
DEAR SAD SIBLING: Of course your feelings are justified. You are human, and your skin isn’t made of Teflon. It’s sad that your brother couldn’t have treated you and Jon with more compassion and understanding.
I find it interesting how people’s perspective can radically change when a child of theirs is involved. Now let’s see if your brother’s attitude toward you changes, and how forgiving you and your partner can be if it does.
Give useful gifts
DEAR ABBY: I bought a friend a gift recently. Her response? “You should have just given me the money because I really need it.” A few years ago, I was going to buy another friend an expensive pair of shoes and she convinced me not to because she said she could buy 10 pairs from a discount store for the amount I was planning to spend.
I love giving gifts during the holidays and for birthdays, and enjoy choosing things I think my friends might like or need. I hate giving money! Isn’t part of the gift-giving experience for the giver, too?
I feel it should be my choice to buy whatever I want for someone, and their response should just be, “Thank you.” It irks me when people dictate to me what I should give them. Am I just being a control freak, or do I have the wrong idea of gift-giving? — Gift Giver in Texas
DEAR GIFT GIVER: A thoughtful gift giver selects things the recipient can use and enjoy. A grateful recipient doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and say she’d prefer the cash.
However, the woman who convinced you not to spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of designer shoes she might not be able to return was, I think, doing both of you a favor. While it’s your prerogative to give whatever you want to whomever you want, don’t you think it makes more sense to bestow something the person can use and enjoy than to satisfy your ego?
Knock and step back
DEAR ABBY: Can you settle a dispute for me? When you go up to a house with two doors — a regular door and a screen door — and there is no doorbell, is it proper to open the first door and knock on the second door or is it considered rude? — Knock, Knock
DEAR KNOCK, KNOCK: Because in the absence of a doorbell the only way you can make your presence known would be to knock, open the screen door and knock. Then step back and close the screen door so you’re not intruding on the space of the person who answers it.