Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How Soon Is "Too Soon" To Give A Gift Of Jewelry?

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I have been dating a woman I will call "Annabelle" for about six weeks, and I am absolutely crazy about her, but I am not certain how she feels about me. She seems to like me, but I just don't feel like I am a priority in her life - at least not the way she is in mine. Christmas is a few months away, and I would like to buy her a nice gift; but I am unsure exactly what kind of gift I should get her.

I am considering buying Annabelle a gift that expresses how I feel about her, like a nice piece of jewelry - obviously not a ring (not yet) but a tennis bracelet or a pair of gemstone earrings would let her know just how much I care about her, and how deeply invested I am in the relationship. On the other hand, I am afraid that giving such an extravagant gift might frighten her away, which is the last thing I want; but I don't want her to think I am not interested, either. Should I wait until Valentine's Day to buy her something expensive, and just go with something a little more generic - like a sweater - for Christmas?

Sighing Over Annabelle

Dear Sighing:

Traditional rules of etiquette state that it is inappropriate for a woman to accept jewelry from any man to whom she is not related, with the exception of an engagement ring. Some women still subscribe to this point of view, and will gracefully refuse such a gift; while others will accept anything shiny and sparkly, regardless of who is offering it. I would say that most women fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

According to the gift-giving guide, it is not proper to give jewelry to a woman you have been seeing for less than three months and, as you have safely assumed, it is never a smart move to give a ring as a gift - even a gemstone ring - unless you are proposing to her or she is under the explicit understanding that it is not - or is, if that is the case - an engagement ring.

Since you are uncertain as to the level of commitment Annabelle is feeling towards you, jewelry should be out of the question until this question has been settled. Do not pressure her for an answer that she may not be ready - or even able, at this early point - to give; rather, allow the relationship to develop in its own time.

In the meantime, if you wish to purchase Annabelle a Christmas gift, try for something more personal than a DVD but less personal than jewelry. A sweater, as you suggested, might be seen as a little personal; as it would require knowing Annabelle's "sizes", and this is not information most women willingly reveal. For a personal gift with meaning, why not consider Annabelle's interests? If she likes to read, you could purchase her a nicely bound edition of something by her favorite author. If she likes music, an iPod shuffle is a thoughtful gift. Be creative, without breaking your bank account; and keep in mind that Annabelle may not be as serious about you as you are about her, so try not to be disappointed if she fails to reciprocate. In the immortal words of The Fonz, "Christmas is for giving, not for trading".


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Elderly Aunt Leaves Legacy Without Even Realizing It

Dear Tazi:

You remind me so much of my beloved Spats, except that your paws are all black and Spats has the most adorable white booties on his paws! I am writing to you today to ask your advice on a question I have regarding inheritance.

I am a 96 year old lady, who never married and has no children of my own; just several nephews and nieces, as well as grand-nephews and nieces, and even one great-grand nephew! Before my siblings all passed (I am the youngest of 11!), my nephews and nieces would visit me regularly with their children in tow. As the years passed on, so did my siblings and the visits from their children became fewer and far between until they completely stopped about 10 years ago.

A few months ago, my youngest grand-nephew, "Carl" started college. For his American History class, he had to interview someone who has lived through important moments in American history. I was quite flattered when he chose me because, as he said, "Aunty Nana, you have lived through so much history!" I suppose that was a polite way of saying I am old, but I also suppose it is true!

As a part of his project, Carl stopped by to visit me on several occasions to ask me questions about my memories of important events in U.S. History - the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President Kennedy, the civil rights movement of the 1960's, and the like. I have truly enjoyed Carl's visits, and I think he enjoyed them, too, because he has continued to visit with me on a weekly basis; even though his project is now complete.

Tazi-Kat, until Carl started visiting me, I thought I had nobody to whom I could bequeath my sizeable estate when I pass. I was going to leave everything in trust for Spats, and then to charity when he passed; but now I am considering re-writing my will and, after making financial accommodations for Spats and a donation to my local ASPCA, leaving the remainder of my estate to Carl. My concern is that Carl is still young, and I fear his interest in spending time with me will be fleeting. I do not wish to bribe him into spending time with me, but I do not wish to leave an inheritance to one who deserts me in my old age. It is for this reason that I am not leaving anything to my nephews or nieces.

I am also concerned that if I do leave everything to Carl, he will see it as a door to Easy Street and leave school before he completes his education. His goal is to be a History teacher, like I was before I retired. I know how difficult it is to live on a teacher's salary - my fortune comes from investing well - so I know that an inheritance will be helpful to Carl should he continue on this path. My Spats loves him, and animals are a good judge of character, plus he seems like such a good, sincere young man. He introduced me to the Facebook that all of his cousins use to keep in touch with each other, and shows me the pictures they post of themselves so I may see what is going on with them. It was on the Facebook that I saw your column, too! Such a smart kitty you are! Do you have any advice for an old lady like me?

Aunty Nana to 35

Dear Aunty Nana:

You sound like a lovely lady, old or not, and if I were there with you I would cuddle up on your lap and purr to show you how nice I think you are!

It is shameful that many of our country's elderly are left to live out their final years alone, so I can see why you appreciate your grand-nephew's visits and his interest in what you have to say. Judging by the fact that he wants to be a History teacher, I would say that his interest in you and all that you have lived through is quite sincere. His absence from your life up until this point should not be held against him - he would have been no older than 8 years old the last time he saw you, and may very well not have known of your existence up until a few months ago - so I would not worry about him suddenly becoming too busy to spend time with you.

I can understand your concerns about Carl's youth and for that reason, should you decide to leave your estate to him, it should be left in trust for him until he

A) Reaches a certain age (say 25)
B) Completes his education and finds employment in his field or
C) Both of the above

This plan will guarantee that Carl is old enough (and hopefully mature enough) to handle a sizable inheritance and has completed his education. When a person goes through the trouble of earning a degree and in Carl's case, two degrees - a Bachelors and a Masters, as a graduate degree is required to teach in many states - they generally are not in a hurry to completely abandon it; regardless of their financial situation.

Please keep in mind, though, that you may have many years still ahead of you to mentor Carl and encourage him in his studies, so try to put worry aside and enjoy your time together. Whether you realize it or not, mentoring is what you are doing during your weekly visits with your grand-nephew; and this is a gift that no amount of money could ever buy! Long after you have passed on, the financial cushion that you leave Carl - however small or sizable - will be appreciated; but the time you spent with him is a legacy that will mean all the more.

Snuggles, snuggles, and more snuggles to you and Spats,

P.S. Should you bequeath your estate to Carl, you need not tell him of your decision. This way, you can always change your mind should circumstances change, and there will be no hard feelings against you.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Man-Child Needs To Grow Up Before It's Time To Retire

Dear Tazi:

What am I going to do with my son?  Seriously, I need to know what to do with the man!  “Robert” is 43 years old, never married, and still living with me without contributing to the household expenses.  He has never, ever moved out of his childhood bedroom and still sleeps in the twin bed he had growing up.  Robert originally went to college to study Criminal Justice because he wanted to be a police officer.  Unfortunately, after four years of college he failed the physical exam for every police force in the region due to his slow running skills.  Apparently, a police officer that cannot run fast is not an asset to the force.  Although he never told me so exactly, I believe this is what also kept him out of the Army; which he applied for after being rejected by more than a dozen police outfits. 

Robert took an unfulfilling, dead-end job in office supply sales to make ends meet when he decided what he really wanted to do was teach.  I think he liked the idea of a flexible schedule and summers off, he insisted that he wanted to “help mold the minds of the next generation”.  Four years later (spent getting a second Bachelor’s and a Masters in Education) Robert decided he did not like teaching, but would “tough it out” until he was able to pay off his student loans (I paid for his first degree only). 

Robert has spent the last ten years teaching on-again off-again and complaining how much he hates his job, calling out sick as often as he is allowed – sometimes too often, which has resulted in his termination.  Contrary to popular belief, teachers can get fired; especially if they do not have tenure or even seniority.  I showed him your letter about jobs that you can do with a degree in education that do not involve teaching, but he said he had no interest in any of them. 

Robert has now decided that the reason he has been so unfulfilled in his work and romantic relationships is because God is calling him to be a man of the cloth.  He is looking into entering the seminary to study for the Roman Catholic priesthood, which would be fine with me if it did not mean I would have to pay off the remainder of his student debts and send him a monthly stipend to ensure he does not incur further debt while “studying for God”. 

If Robert did not have such a spotted past when it came to his career, I would be more than happy to assist him in this new endeavor; however, I am afraid that Robert is looking for free room and board from someone new now that I am getting older and looking to retire to Florida.  Do you think I should take a chance on my son, Tazi?  Or should I allow him to take this leap of faith on his own?

Losing Faith

Dear Losing Faith:

Your son is 43 years old and still trying to find himself, this is obvious.  If you would like to continue supporting him; have the means to do so; and honestly believe that the reason he has failed in all of his career endeavors so far is because he is being thwarted by God in order to push him on the right path than by all means go for it.  If you have doubts, though…

The fact that your son chose a career in which he was not physically able to perform is regrettable, but I will give him a pass.  I believe everyone is entitled to a do-over; his just happened a little sooner than expected.  The fact that your son hated teaching from the moment he set foot in the classroom leads me to believe that you are correct in thinking he was seeking summers off rather than fulfilling a desire to “mold the minds of the next generation”. 

You have done what you can in assisting your son in his quest for career fulfillment.  You have generously allowed him to live with you free of charge so he could pay off his student loans that much sooner.  You have no reason to feel guilty should you decide to let your son sink or swim on his own.  It is not like you are telling him to jump off of a cliff and promising that angels will catch him (Matthew 4:11); you have been his angel for quite some time.  If the priesthood is your son's desire, he can make a financial plan that involves paying off his student loans and saving up for his future as a seminarian – and as a Catholic priest, because the “free room and board” deal ends at retirement.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.