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Dear Annie: Wedding gifts under warranty?

Dear Annie: My very good friend “Pamela” has a son who recently got married. The wedding took place in the middle of September. The bride decided at the beginning of December that she didn’t want to be married. My question is this: Who gets the gifts? The bride and groom were living with her parents until they bought a home, so they didn’t use any of their wedding gifts. The groom just bought a house. I say that he should get the gifts; he is not the one who decided to leave the marriage. — Wedding Present Problems

Dear Wedding Present: The law varies by state. Generally, if the gifts were given to the couple, then the gifts are communal property and will be divided up however the rest of their property is divided up. It’s worth the husband consulting an attorney on this matter. Morally speaking, that’s a different question, but I tend to agree with you: This woman put him out in the cold. The least she could do is let him have the toaster.

Dear Annie: My husband and I have lived together for more than 30 years, and we decided to get married about 15 years ago. We live in a different state than his family and don’t see them often. We do exchange cards, holiday gifts, calls, etc. Several women in his family (specifically, his sister and her adult daughter) will not address me in writing by my name. I kept my birth name when I married and they know that, but anything they send to us either refers to “John and Mary Smith” (his last name) or “The Smiths.”

My husband has reminded them of my name, and I have included a little note on some holiday cards in the past to remind them as well.

I can only assume that they disagree with my decision to keep my own name, and it continues to upset me. It feels disrespectful, to say the least. My husband thinks it’s no big deal. Is he right? Is it worth me reaching out directly to each of them to ask why they are doing this when I otherwise don’t have a lot of contact with them, or should I just let it go and try not to let it bother me? — Ms. Addressed

Dear Ms. Addressed: Write this off as ignorance. Sure, there’s a chance they’re deliberately disrespecting your choice to keep your name — but you’d only be assuming that. Recall that old saying about what happens when you assume: The language is a shade too colorful for a family paper, but the gist is not to do it.

Truly, it costs you nothing to generously give others the benefit of the doubt, even to those who haven’t earned it. So presume innocence, and ask your husband to remind them again of your last name. If he resists because “it isn’t a big deal,” tell him that it’s important to you. Not every matter needs to be cataclysmic to be worthy of addressing.

Dear Annie: Thanks for your article on grieving and saying, “Don’t let anyone tell you how or when to grieve.” My brother was killed in a gun accident 39 years ago and my mother was never the same. I remember her saying that after a while someone tried to be “helpful” by suggesting it was time to move on. It didn’t go over well. — Gary in Indianapolis

Dear Gary: I am so sorry for the tragic loss of your brother. And I’m sorry your mother had to hear those words when she was suffering. There is no perfect thing to say to someone who is grieving: The most important thing you can do is just to show up for them and listen.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now. Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Go to http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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