Ask Amy: Costanza or Corleone? You be the judge.

November 30, 2011

DEAR AMY: I have a half-sister. She was offended by something that one of my adult children supposedly did to her. She got all bent out of shape and refused to celebrate birthdays and holidays with us anymore. No gift, no card.

We are not taking this too lightly. I have always known that she was a little shady. She has on more than one occasion helped herself to pens and Post-it notes from her workplace.

Since she felt that my family and I are no longer good enough to be on her Christmas list, I took it upon myself to let her bosses at work know why their office supplies may be dwindling.

In turn, she was reprimanded at her job, which cost her a couple of days’ pay and a letter in her personnel file.

I also let the IRS know that she may not have been reporting all the waitress tips she earned while she worked at a restaurant.

Since other family members learned of my tattling, they have shunned me.

What? She was the criminal, not I.

So, Amy, what do you think? Am I some kind of evil person? To paraphrase “Seinfeld’s” George Costanza, “Was I wrong?” -- Lost in Lauderdale

DEAR LOST: You operate more like Vito Corleone than hapless George Costanza.

Your sister comes off as the wise one in this scenario. Giving you a wide berth is a very good idea.

Accusing your relative of petty thievery is not the way to solve a personal problem. It’s certainly not the path toward Christmas cards and gifts.

Until you take responsibility for your own behavior, your life will continue to be one of discord, drama and estrangement. And that’s no sitcom.

DEAR AMY: Throughout high school, my nephew attended a boarding school in the town where my husband and I live. His parents live a distance away and so he spent most weekends and many holidays with us.

We gave him the guest room, fed and entertained him and even lent him our car. He’s a wonderful young man, and we had a great time.

To congratulate him for graduating from high school and gaining acceptance to a prestigious college, we took him on a European vacation.

We have not heard from him since the day we returned and he moved back home for the summer. He hasn’t thanked us for such a generous graduation gift, never said goodbye when he left for college, and ignored my birthday.

My sister tells me he spent the summer working and partying with old friends. Now he’s busy with school. His sibling said he raved about the “awesome” trip.

We have no reason to think he’s upset or angry with us; the trip was indeed awesome — we all had a ton of fun.

We are terribly hurt and have no idea what to make of this.

We are thinking of avoiding celebrating the holidays with their family this year; we don’t think we can keep our feelings in check and want to avoid him. -- Bewildered Aunt

DEAR BEWILDERED: Don’t avoid this issue. Without question, you deserve to be thanked and acknowledged, but one source of your nephew’s breach is his parents. They obviously have not prompted him to be thoughtful, and he is acting entitled. It’s too bad they didn’t raise him better.

Don’t teach your nephew through your actions to avoid people when things get challenging.

You should tell him honestly that you had hoped to hear from him and are disappointed that he has not been in touch. Tell him you miss him.

Then you can all get a fresh start.

DEAR AMY: “Worried Niece” was burdened with daily care of her aunt. Her aunt’s distant sons seemed unconcerned.

Your recommendations were good; many people don’t realize how many local services are available (some at low or no cost) to help elders stay safely in their homes for as long as possible.

The niece should read the riot act to her cousins over their mother’s care. They should be ashamed of themselves. -- Upset

DEAR UPSET: To be fair, these sons might not realize the true extent of their mother’s needs.

Inform first; the riot act can follow.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2011 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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