Travel costs reduced in the gift budget |

DEAR HARRIETTE: I go to visit my family every Christmas. This year there are two new babies, a lot of young adults and us, the older ones. My family and I fly to be with the rest of the family. The whole trip is quite expensive, but we like to be together. Unfortunately, we were unable to do this last year due to COVID-19.

We’ll all be there this year, but I don’t have much money left for gifts for everyone. What I want to do is focus on the kids, the babies. Do you think it’s okay? Do I have to say something in advance, since we usually bring a lot of gifts? I want to manage expectations. – Less gifts

DEAR LESS GIFTS: Let’s start by saying that the gift of being in each other’s company is best of all, in my book. I would add that one should not count other people’s money.

It’s a good idea to talk to your family members, at least the host, to express your holiday gift intentions. Let them know that you will be focusing on the little ones. Maybe you can give cards to others. You can also suggest a philanthropic idea that your family can participate in by donating to those in need. My sister has organized a charitable service in her church for years. We and others adopt needy families and provide food, gifts and sometimes money so that others can enjoy the holidays as we do. You might consider pooling resources and doing something similar as a group.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My office is doing Secret Santa, and everyone has been invited to participate. I am uncomfortable with this because I am a Jehovah’s Witness and we do not celebrate Christmas. I know my boss didn’t want to be insensitive about this. I noticed that Jews and other people from different religious backgrounds are participating anyway, but I can’t do it. How do I fix this problem without making it a big deal? – No secret Santa for me

DEAR NO SECRET FATHER CHRISTMAS FOR ME: Speak privately to your supervisor and explain your situation simply and clearly. Because of your religious beliefs, you do not celebrate Christmas. This includes gifts through Secret Santa. Make it clear that you are happy to be a part of the team and that you don’t want to appear distant, but you will not participate. Request that your name be deleted so that it does not become annoying. Also, let your supervisor know that you will not be attending a holiday party if there is one. Being upfront about your religious practices will help allay concerns about your membership on the team.

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