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Divorce didn't divvy ornaments

December 11, 2009

Dear Amy: My ex-husband and I divorced more than a year ago. We had a pretty clean break because we both felt the need to move on.

I asked if I could have my Christmas ornaments back. He said yes but asked if we could do it the next year, when he would be back in the attic.

The only reason I want these ornaments is that they are personalized and from my grandmother, who died shortly before the divorce proceedings.

None of this is included in our divorce decree. I've contacted him three times -- twice via text and once via e-mail -- but he hasn't replied.

I have no legal recourse because we did not explicitly state this in the divorce decree, but these ornaments are the only remembrance of my grandmother I have. Is there a polite way to continue this, or should I accept this loss?

Only Want Ornaments

Dear Want: This operation would go much more smoothly if you had access to my Aunt Jean's pound cake. Because you don't, you're going to have to make your own.

Give your ex a heads-up by contacting him to say, "I'm planning to swing by to drop off some Christmas sweets later today (name a time when he's likely to be home). I'd love to pick up Granny's ornaments while I'm there."

Go to the house at that time. If your ex isn't there, leave the goodwill goodies. A dose of holiday guilt should get him up to the attic. If being nicey-nice doesn't work, contact your lawyer. There might be a loophole in your document through which you could pull Grandma's ornaments.


Dear Amy: Last year you ran a column about nieces and nephews who never acknowledge holiday gifts. The writer suggested substituting charitable giving in their names. We did this many years ago with my sister's three very "entitled" and self-centered children.

Because we live at a distance, I would always carefully shop, wrap and ship gifts into a black hole of ungratefulness. No response, even from the parents. Finally, we did charitable giving in the children's names. Again there was no response, but at least we knew we were doing some good.

Many years later, these children (now adults) have turned out exactly the way you would expect. Conversely, my husband's family always taught and modeled appreciation and gratitude. Today, these adult children are caring, responsible and respectful. What a gift these parents provided to their kids when they taught them to express their thanks.

Lesson Learned

Dear Learned: Parents, take heed!

Send questions to Amy Dickinson by e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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