Neighbor Goes Overboard With Holiday Gifts & She Can’t Get Over A Lingering Love

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

DEAR CAT: One of my neighbors is really into holidays. She drops off gifts to many people on the street for everything from Christmas to Valentine’s Day to July 4th. It is nice of her, and who doesn’t like getting a tin of cookies on July 3rd? But in my opinion it’s going overboard. The problem is, some neighbors give gifts to her in return and I know for a fact that they only do it out of obligation to reciprocate. I have heard some of them complaining but they do it anyway. I feel that way as well but I don’t give her any gifts. She and I are not “close” and I’m not about to give a casual neighbor a gift for Valentine’s Day! I would feel ridiculous! My mother says thank her for the gifts but do not bother giving gifts to her. I agree and I feel that my neighbor is the holiday nut, not me, so I don’t have to jump on the gift-giving train just because she does it. In terms of etiquette, is my mother right, or am I being rude? — THE GIFTER THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

DEAR GIFTER: Your mother is 100% correct, and so are you. As long as you say thank you, either in person or with a little card, you’re not being rude. Your neighbor obviously loves giving gifts, and whether it’s ‘overboard’ isn’t relevant as long as it doesn’t bother or offend you (for example, if she gave you religious-themed gifts for holidays you don’t celebrate). Giving a gift is supposed to be a selfless act so there is no obligation for you to reciprocate. That said, if you ever throw a holiday party and invite some of your neighbors….Cat’s Call: Invite her, too.

DEAR CAT: About ten years ago I fell in love with a man and sometimes I think I never got over it. To my knowledge he is married but I don’t know because we haven’t spoken in eight years. He emails me on occasion to “see how things are with me” and that goes on for a couple days, then nothing for a long time. He must still care about me if he thinks to write to me. Because this is anonymous I can admit part of me is waiting for him. I know that’s crazy because I am 42 years old and he has never said he plans on us being together. I don’t want to marry someone else and then have him show up. I think I’ve read all of your columns and know you believe/say if a man really wants you, he makes it happen. I believe that, too, but how can I move on when these feelings linger for him? I don’t want to be 80 years old and look back thinking, “I was an idiot to wait for nothing!” Your call on this? – QUIETLY WAITING

DEAR QUIET: Love can linger for a long time (sometimes forever) and romantic as that can be, it can hold you back. Sure he might still care about you in the “I wonder what she’s up to” kind of way but…sorry to say this…he chose to be with someone else and hasn’t spoken to you in eight years. For all you know, if you talked now, the old spark wouldn’t be there anymore. Truth is, you will only move on if you let yourself love someone else. You can’t know how you’ll feel in forty years, you can’t even know how you’ll feel next week. You could meet someone out of the blue who changes your perspective and all of a sudden Mr. Lingering Love becomes Mr. Oh That Guy. No matter what, don’t get married for the sole purpose of not waiting for him any longer. Cat’s Call: Only get married if you truly want to spend your life with your spouse-to-be.

What’s YOUR call? Share it below! Submit questions to: or click here!.

  1. I agree with Cat’s call on Gifter, not much to add there.

    Also agree with Cat’s advice to Quiet. Quiet needs to understand that her obsessive pining for this old flame is blocking any potential true love from finding her. She needs to send this guy a reply e-mail, put everything out there and let him know all her true feelings. Ask him flat out if he is interested in a romantic relationship. If he says no, then she needs to tell him she wants no more contact from him ever, period. To summarize, Quiet needs closure on this.

    — Matt in Pittsburgh    12/13/2011    Reply

  2. To Gifter- For me I find it very irritating when people I’m not close with give me gifts. In a corporation when you do secret santas it’s okay because you give a general gift such a $5.00 Starbucks card or mouse pad and to just one person. What does a neighbor know about my likes and dislikes? Once a neighbor gave me a tin of cookies filled with raisins which I don’t eat. What a waste! Send out holiday cards and put an end to it there.

    To Quietly Waiting- In a way I would say he doesn’t have the ‘right’ to email and check up on you. He gave up that right when he chose someone else, as Cat said. I’m sure his wife would like to know he contacts you and I bet other women too. Blow him off next time. Good luck.

    — Rebecca, Pgh    12/13/2011    Reply

  3. Gifter: It is quite interesting how the act of receiving a gift makes you feel indebted despite knowing the act of giving feels good to your neighbor, wherein they would not intend to elicit any negative feelings. I grew up in small town where gift giving is common to the point of being “the way things are.” My mother baked often, it was enough for ten people, which she handed out often. Her friends were no different. Sharing was normal yet in modern city living it is seen as charitable or “going overboard.” Your neighbor could be accustomed to “sharing with the town.” Do not feel anything negative because your neighbor must enjoy all the preparations.

    Quietly Waiting: Cat nailed it in the second sentence. He chose someone else and will not speak to you. X him out of your mind by Xing him out of your life. Several years ago my wife began hearing from a high school boyfriend who didn’t treat her well back then. She was polite to him because he was not asking for anything merely seeing how she was doing. The third or fourth time she heard from him she told him please not to contact her anymore and wished him luck in his life. That ended it. Then again my wife is a married woman and you are not which you ex knows. I doubt he would contact you if he thought were taken.

    — Marcus 60611    12/14/2011    Reply


    I tried to think of something else to add, maybe something that Kat missed, but I can’t think of anything else to add except, if your neighbor is expecting something in return then it would be an issue, but there is nothing in your letter to lead me to believe that, so Kat’s reply stands pat.

    — LeBron from Pittsburgh    12/15/2011    Reply

  5. Gifter: Gifts are a good thing, and worrying about reciprocating takes some of the goodness out of the gift. If you feel like giving a gift in return then do it. If not, then don’t. In either case a nice thank you is warranted.

    Quietly Waiting: I feel so badly for you. That ship has sailed and he is not coming back. You have to move on. You would not be the first person who loved someone and never got together. My wife has such an admirer and he has finally moved on. Sometimes you just have to. Good luck.

    — John from Pittsburgh    12/15/2011    Reply


    Get out and live! And, by that I mean, get out and do things, whether with a church group, work group, charities, bowling league, etc. By doing such you may eventually meet and fall in love with someone.

    You are waiting for a ship that will never dock.

    If you don’t do something about it now, whne you are old and gray, your screen name will have gone from QUIETLY WAITING to…


    — LeBron from Pittsburgh    12/16/2011    Reply

  7. The line which says “all of a sudden Mr. Lingering Love becomes Mr. Oh That Guy” is the perfect description of what happened to me! Quietly Waiting was me two years ago. I never believed I would get over my ex. I think in my case it was worse because he wasn’t married and I would see him on occasion. I held on like that hoping he would “come around” and it was terrible. One day I decided “what am I doing?” It was like a light turning on. I think my feelings were leftover from right after we broke up, not from that time. A month later I met my husband. I have never looked back not even when my ex occassionally emails, one time I wrote back a short note wishing him well and the others I ignored. Nothing feels better than that!

    — With The One    01/21/2012    Reply


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