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Ask Anyone

you ask too much

I’ve agreed to host dinner at my home Every September, I run a pretty successful fundraising event for a terrific local charity. It started as an office thing and has grown to include a number of downtown businesses, and know it brings in many thousands of dollars every year. It’s a lot of work, but I’m very proud of it and grateful that so many people take part.

Each year, the charity that benefits from the event mails thank you cards to each and every donor. They’re terrific that way. I get one too. This week, I also got a holiday card, which included an envelope for a donation. I know times are tight, and that charities like this one need an extra helping hand, but the solicitation struck a sour note with me. Must they mix gratitude with a plea for more? Is the mailing worth the cost? Am I being a total Scrooge?

—I’ll Be Double-Dipped

The Gay Perspective: You are correct. It is tacky to include a solicitation for yet more money in the holiday greeting. Those two sentiments should not be combined.

The Straight Skinny says: No, you are a Scrooge. The job of charities is to be charities—to raise money for suitable causes. If you need someone to wish you a happy holiday, look to your friends.

the give-in season

My family usually does a Secret Santa thing, at least among the adults—each adult gives just one gift, not too expensive, to one other adult. There are always exceptions: You can give a present to your mother, you can give presents to kids. But you don’t buy presents for brothers and sisters, in-laws and cousins. It’s sensible.

This year I’ve been told that the adults will give donations in each other’s names to a charity or cause instead of gifts. I guess that’s a noble sentiment, but I feel like that’s going too far. And I didn’t get a vote on this. I want wool socks, or a nice paring knife, or a bottle of bourbon. And I want to give something too. I don’t know what charity my brother-in-law approves of. He doesn’t have the same politics as me. Can I ignore this edict?

The Gay Perspective: Yes, you are free to ignore the edict. You have no say in what you shall or shall not receive, but what you give is entirely up to you.

The Straight Skinny says: No, you should not ignore the edict. Unless you don’t like or agree with your family, in which case, why are you so keen to buy them socks?

Dining Out says: The whole point of gift giving is it’s supposed to be quirky, creative, and spontaneous, especially when it comes to exchanging presents with your own family. After all, family knows you best. And you certainly know them as you probably lived with all of their schlock and put up with their weird habits until you were a rebellious teenager.

If I were you, I’d find that inner teenage rebel and protest their proposal to strictly donate to charities. You didn’t even get a chance to vote, so speak up. You can always volunteer for a special charity as an entire family and designate that as your bonus present to the community. Aside from that, tell your family you’re sticking with Secret Santa and start shopping.

The Sales Guy says: Substituting a charitable donation for your one gift takes the fun out of the holiday. Giving to charity is a necessity these days, and times are indeed tough, but there are other days and other months for your generosity.

Ask Anyone is local advice for locals with problems. Please send your questions for our panel of experts to

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