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Dear Annie — Working within

Dear Annie: I want to thank you for your response to the man who wrote to you concerning getting closure with the father who had abused him. It was quite helpful to me, as my situation is similar. I struggle daily with guilt at not being able to have a relationship with my parents. My mother was quite abusive to me, and my father did nothing to stop it.

Both of my parents had their own problems, but I find it extremely difficult to forgive them. I did confront my mother, and she apologized, but that did little to heal my pain. Your suggestion to talk to the child who was abused was very helpful. Thank you. — Getting to Know My Younger Self

Dear Younger Self: Thank you for sharing your experience, and congratulations as you begin your own journey of healing. Your letter brings up a great point; namely, that unloading our anger and hurt on other people does not lead to ultimate peace. What effects change is working on ourselves. Once you do that, you can have a better understanding as to why your mother was abusive and your father unable to defend you.

Best of luck to you as you repair your relationship with yourself and, eventually, with your parents.

Dear Annie: I visited my son and his family overseas for two weeks in December this year but left on Dec. 17, so I wasn’t there for Christmas. Because I seldom get to give them birthday or Christmas gifts in person, I spent a lot of time, thought and money on gifts for my three grandchildren and was very excited to give these gifts and to enjoy their excitement.

I felt (and still feel) very sad, frustrated and hurt when my daughter-in-law refused to let the children open their gifts until Christmas Day.

The reasons she gave were that the children — ages 3, 6 and 9, bright and well-adjusted — would wonder why they didn’t get a gift from me on Christmas Day and that she doesn’t want them to get too wound up before Christmas.

I also did not get to open the gifts they made for me while I was with them. I appealed to my son and his wife several times to reconsider but didn’t press the issue because it would have caused tension for the rest of my visit.

Was this rude of them, or am I overreacting? — Sad and Somewhat Angry Granny

Dear Sad Granny: I’m not sure if it was rude of the parents so much as it was controlling. Part of the joy in giving gifts is to see the reaction of the people you love. This is especially true if they live overseas and you don’t get to see them much. I’m not sure why you couldn’t open the gifts they made for you either.

If they were made for you, then you should be able to open them anytime and express your gratitude to your grandchildren. Share with your son and daughter-in-law how much it means to you to open gifts face to face. Perhaps they aren’t big gift-givers and don’t understand the importance for you. And the next time you visit them all, just say that you are bringing your grandchildren presents — no special occasion required.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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