Dec. 19, 2022

Blasting Holiday Lights, Announcing Weddings in Holiday Cards, Reciprocating Expensive Gifts, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about blasting holiday lights, announcing weddings in holiday cards, reciprocating expensive gifts, and much more.

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about blasting holiday lights, announcing weddings in holiday cards, reciprocating expensive gifts, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

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  • What should I do about my neighbor's too-bright holiday display?
  • Is it OK to announce our wedding engagement in our annual holiday card?
  • Should I feel guilty about not being able to reciprocate my wealthy brother's expensive gifts?
  • Should I tell my mother-in-law that she sent a repeat gift?
  • Is there a way to tell my in-laws that we contributed more to a group gift than the others?







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



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Episode 167


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Nick: Hey, everybody. It's Nick Leighton.

Leah: And it's Leah Bonnema.

Nick: And we had so many great questions from you all in the wilderness ...

Leah: [howls]

Nick: ... that we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is quote, "I'm lucky to live on a relatively dark and quiet street. However, for the past few years, my neighbors across the street have lined their roof, windows and dormers with very bright white Christmas lights. Now our street is so bright you could literally read a newspaper in the dead of night from mid-November to mid-January. What's more, the light shines through my windows of my house and all of the neighbors' houses 24/7. If you wake up in the middle of the night, it feels like the sun is coming up even though the shades are down. Several other adjacent neighbors are also distraught, and we're wondering how can we find a tactful way to ask the family across the street to turn off their lights during the overnight hours?"

Leah: I feel like they sent it in as a group.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, it's a group problem, that's for sure.

Leah: This happened to a friend of mine actually, in Long Island.

Nick: Okay. And what do we do?

Leah: They left it. Well, that—that house also had music that played 24/7.

Nick: So that, I think, is always sort of paired with lights. I think people who go for the Klieg light display often do have a musical element. This is very common together.

Leah: You know I love holiday lights. Like, there's no bigger proponent of holiday lights than me.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And I do feel that it's fair still to ask somebody, as—I think there's a nice way as a group to do it, which I'm sure you're gonna come up with that language, to be like, "Hey, after a certain time—" you know, you turn it off and turn it back on in the morning.

Nick: Yeah, I don't think it's unreasonable to want the lights off at a certain hour. And it does feel like when you go to bed, turn off the lights. Like, that feels reasonable. Let's not leave them on all night. I mean, if anything, let's save electricity. No one needs the lights on at 4:00 a.m.

Leah: Yeah, it seems—"Hey, when you go to bed—" I mean, that's not the words exactly, but that seems like a reasonable request.

Nick: Yes. And I think as the neighbor who's doing this, it would be nice if they were mindful of the people around them and what their display is doing to the neighborhood.

Leah: Well, clearly they aren't. They seem to be totally fine with leaving it on all night, which sometimes you just get blown away by the spirit of the season, you know?

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I get it. And in some neighborhoods this is the deal. Like, there are definitely some neighborhoods where when you buy a house in that neighborhood, like, you're told like, "Oh, by the way, this becomes Candy Cane Lane." And so you are obligated to do a light display on your house and you can't not do that.

Leah: And it's 24/7. But if you're the only lights ...

Nick: Right.

Leah: ... in the middle of the night.

Nick: And it does feel like the issue is not the lights themselves, it's the brightness and amount. Like, I think they went a little overboard. So I think asking them to dial it back is probably not an option. So I think yeah, your only option is just to have a polite-yet-direct conversation about, like, "Oh, this is a little disturbing. Could we reach a compromise where you can have your display but then we can also sleep?"

Leah: Yeah. And do you think it'd be better if they just went over and said it, or do you think like a note?

Nick: I guess it depends on what your relationship is with this house. Ideally, this feels like an in-person sort of conversation, because it feels maybe a little nicer and a little friendlier and a little more neighborly. But if you didn't have that relationship, then I think a letter is nice. Although a letter that's, like, signed by 20 houses does feel a little aggressive on some level.

Leah: It does. It does.

Nick: It could have a little too much formality, which maybe we don't want to go there yet. Like, you could escalate to that point. But I think for the initial stab, you want to kind of just like, "Oh, hey. Love the display, love the holiday season. Would it be possible if?"

Leah: Yeah. And for me it felt like an in-person.

Nick: Now an adjacent question: what do you feel is the correct period of time to have the holiday display up? Now you might be the totally wrong person to ask.

Leah: I'm the wrong person to ask.

Nick: Because you'll basically say July 6 to July 3 is probably your answer.

Leah: I would say November 1 to Valentine's Day.

Nick: November 1!

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: To Valentine's Day!

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Wow. Okay.

Leah: That's why I'm the wrong person to ask.

Nick: You are the wrong person. I think if I had to decide what the rule was, I think it's Black Friday—day after Thanksgiving—to Three Kings Day.

Leah: Oh, wow. That's too early.

Nick: So I feel like that's sort of the holiday season for decor.

Leah: What I like about holiday lights is that I like for it to coincide with daylight savings.

Nick: [laughs]

Nick: So I mean, that's more like the second week of November. It just gets so dark so early.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And it tends to make me feel a little depressed. And I love twinkling lights. They just shimmer in my heart. And so I think that when it gets dark early, throw those lights up.

Nick: I mean, good thing you don't live in, like, Arctic Circle. You'd never take those down.

Leah: I would never take them down. I'm not going to say whether or not I take my lights down.

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Well, what happens inside your house? I mean, have at it. If you want to have pumpkin spice candles burning 24/7/365, I mean, what a wonderful life. It's just like what's happening on the outside of your house, I feel like maybe there's some conversation about dates.

Leah: Well, that wasn't the question. The question was nighttime.

Nick: [laughs] Fair enough. And about music, I do think music is definitely problematic, maybe somewhat more problematic than light. Because if you live next to a house that's blasting music, that is harder to live with, I think, on some level than just bright lights outside.

Leah: I think so. It's definitely next level.

Nick: I was at a house last Christmas, though, that did an amazing light display that was synchronized with music. But what they did is the music was broadcast on a low power FM station that was only like a 100-foot radius from the house. And so you got in your car, and you dialed your car radio to that frequency, and then you could watch the display and hear the music, but it wasn't disturbing anybody else. And I was like, "Oh, isn't that genius?"

Leah: That's very nice. I love that. I also think you could do, like, "Hey, I do this light show to music between 6:00 and 7:00.

Nick: Okay. Sure. Yeah, that does seem the most courteous if you just can't help yourself.

Leah: And then anybody in the area who records a podcast knows I can't tape at that time.

Nick: Right.

Leah: Because I'll pick up the Hallelujah chorus.

Nick: [laughs] Exactly.

Leah: Which, by the way, is my morning alarm. I just want you to know that.

Nick: That's your morning alarm?

Leah: 365 days a year.

Nick: Okay. I mean, what a way to start the day.

Leah: Nothing gets you up like that. You know what I'm saying? Although sometimes I will rotate in a Zumba song.

Nick: Okay. I mean, I can honestly say I've never been there when you woke up.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So I want to take your word for all of this. So our next question is quote, "My partner and I are sending out Christmas cards together for the first time this year. In it, we're planning on printing a cute 'Night Before Christmas'-inspired poem that includes an announcement that we're getting married in the spring a year from now. It's not a secret that we're getting engaged, as we've told all our friends and our moms have spread the word everywhere else, but we haven't finalized our guest list or even set the exact date for the wedding yet. And my partner is worried that people who receive our Christmas card will be expecting a wedding invitation later. I think it's fine because there's no 'Save the date' language on the Christmas card and it doesn't mention a specific date, only that it's going to be in the spring. Is my partner correct by having concerns that Christmas card recipients who don't eventually get an invitation might have hurt feelings?"

Leah: An option ...

Nick: Okay.

Leah: ... is to just change the language so it's an engagement announcement.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Instead of being like, "We're getting married in the spring."

Nick: I mean, what is the difference, though?

Leah: The difference is "We're engaged. I wanted you to know we're engaged."

Nick: Right. And just not talk about when a wedding might happen.

Leah: Yeah, because this is saying the wedding is set and it's gonna be in the spring.

Nick: Right. That was what I had, which is like, I think a holiday card? Totally fair game place to talk about a major life event. Because a lot of people do that in their sort of annual holiday letter.

Leah: Absolutely.

Nick: They're like, "Here are things that happened in our family this year." So the fact that you're getting married, like, that's totally a valid thing to include in that letter.

Leah: And congratulations to you both.

Nick: And congratulations and best wishes for all that. But when you include a specific date or time period, now I'm thinking like, "Oh, okay. I should keep that in mind." Like, "Oh, spring next year. That's when they're getting married." And in my head I'm like, "Okay, now there's actually a time when that event is happening," and now I'm thinking like, "Oh, okay. Maybe I'm going to that thing."

Leah: Yeah. I think, "Should I keep the spring open?"

Nick: And then another question I had was is the sort of cutesy poem, does that make it more like a save-the-date vibe rather than like, "Here's factual information we're presenting?" And it feels like the poem thing actually makes it more save the date-y.

Leah: Oh, I didn't even think of that.

Nick: Right? I get a little more of that flavor. Because it's cutesy, and it's sort of like, "We want you to be part of this cutesiness." Rather than just like, "We got engaged this year, and we're very excited about it!"

Leah: That's a very good point. I didn't think of that.

Nick: It had a little of that flavor for me. And then I was wondering, like, could we just do two versions of the card? Like, anybody you know who's totally not invited, like, maybe word it differently for their card? Like, is that too much effort?

Leah: Oh, that's a really good point. You just print out two.

Nick: Right?

Leah: And anybody you know is coming gets the poem with the "Springtime," and everybody else just gets a "We got engaged."

Nick: Right? So maybe do two different versions? I don't know if that's just creating more work for you but, like, that's an idea.

Leah: That's a great idea. Or you could do the spring one, and on that get a black-tipped felt marker, circle it and say, "Just letting you know you're not invited."

Nick: I mean, that's one way to let people know. Yeah.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: I mean, you know people have done that. [laughs]

Leah: No. Have they?

Nick: Oh, absolutely. Yes. There is definitely a group of people in the world who have specifically let people know that they're not invited to the wedding. Unprompted.

Leah: Whoo!

Nick: Yeah, this is absolutely a thing that happens in the world.

Leah: I love how I just think of something in my mind that's the most insane thing I've ever thought of, and you're like, "No, for sure people are doing that."

Nick: For sure this has happened, yes. It's just like, "Oh, just so you know, you're not gonna get an invitation."

Leah: Wow!

Nick: I was like, "I didn't ask." [laughs]

Leah: I feel like I just broke into a sweat. I—and also for me, when I get something where somebody mentions they got married or they tell me they're having a wedding coming up, I don't feel like I'm invited. I wait for a specific invite.

Nick: No, because you are a person that is well adjusted.

Leah: [laughs] Thanks, Nick!

Nick: There are people out there when they hear a wedding is happening in the lives of somebody they know do feel like they will be invited.

Leah: Mmm.

Nick: There is this instinct for some people out there where it's like, "Oh, I am aware of you. And so you're getting married? Well then, obviously I'm coming to your wedding."

Leah: I like the two versions idea, or just switching the whole thing to just be an engagement announcement.

Nick: And then I was thinking—I kind of came full circle, which is like, do the announcement you want to do. Let people know it's gonna be in the spring. And if people are upset that they're not invited to your wedding and they don't receive an invitation, well then I guess let them be upset. Like, I guess that's fine. Like, they're aware at some point that you will get married, and they're gonna be aware that they weren't at that day. And so eventually they're gonna put it together. So I guess if they wanted to be hurt then, they're gonna be hurt. So I guess let them?

Leah: Well, I feel like this person's partner is uncomfortable with that idea. So it's like, what's the line we can walk where we make an announcement and we don't make anybody feel bad? And at what point are you not responsible for their feelings because it was really just an announcement? Is there a difference between an engagement or saying we're getting married in the spring? That's the question.

Nick: Right. So—all right, so to come back to the beginning, I think the spring part is the problem. So if we eliminate the spring part, then I think it's just more of an announcement, and then I guess you're in the clear.

Leah: And I think you could get rid of the word "marriage," because you're saying you're engaged. We all know you're going to get married, but saying we're getting married makes it sound like there's a date.

Nick: Ah, okay. "Just FYI, we got engaged!" And leave it at that.

Leah: "Celebrating our love with a big announcement for this year."

Nick: Okay. All right. So I think this is the correct answer.

Leah: Right? Doesn't it feel different?

Nick: It does feel different, yeah. Because once we start talking about planning, now we're talking about invitations, and we don't want to talk about these things.

Leah: Yeah. A date implies invitations. I do think—and there's some fun things that rhyme with "engaged" or "engage."

Nick: Such as?

Leah: Sage?

Nick: Sage?

Leah: Page? That maybe a page delivered the letter. It's like a—when you sage the house and you have new vibes? That's what it's like to be an engage.

Nick: Yes. Cage?

Leah: That seems negative. That has, "We're engage—I haven't engaged. Doesn't feel like I'm caged. I am not enraged." This is not holiday-ish at all.

Nick: [laughs] Yeah. I don't know if this is the poem they had in mind, but we'll workshop it.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next question is quote, "My brother is very well off. He's literally a CEO, and he's very generous when it comes to birthdays and Christmas gifts for my teen. I'm a 'normal,' quote unquote, and can't afford to respond in kind for my young niece and nephew. My family is always sure to acknowledge their birthdays and send gifts, but the monetary value is not the same. Of course, my brother and his wife have never said anything about this, but I feel guilty. Should I? Are there any hard and fast rules about gift-giving asymmetry?"

Leah: I think that you should just let your brother give the gifts that he wants to give. And ...

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: ... don't feel bad about it at all. He knows.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: He's not expecting a car back.

Nick: [laughs] Right? Hopefully not. Yeah.

Leah: And I think you just want—people to feel joy giving gifts to people. It's a part of the gift.

Nick: Yes.

Leah: Like, I think it makes people feel nice, and I'm sure he just wants to get your teenager nice gifts. And I think just enjoy it. And obviously you've been grateful for it, and I would just leave it at that.

Nick: And let's just talk about what makes a good gift. Because a good gift is not necessarily expensive. A good gift is the one that's thoughtful. Like, if you thought back at all the gifts you've ever received going back to, you know, year zero, the ones that probably stick in your mind are the thoughtful ones, and they probably weren't that expensive. So I think as long as the gifts you're giving your wealthy brother are thoughtful, that's more important than anything else.

Leah: Yeah, I think that's a great point that you could have gotten them their favorite gifts because you thought it was—you thought about them when you got it and you had it in mind. I don't think the monetary value matters at all in this circumstance.

Nick: Yeah. So I think when we talk about the symmetry, it's more about a symmetry of thoughtfulness. Like, I don't think I want to give them a gift that is less thoughtful than the one they gave you.

Leah: I just think that people often—like, obviously your brother loves your kid, and he wants to share what he has to offer. And I would just embrace that.

Nick: Yeah. And, like, I just got you a gift that was, you know, not that expensive, to be honest. But I think it was thoughtful, right?

Leah: Oh, it was perfect.

Nick: And so a hundred years ago, Leah mentioned in passing that she really liked these chocolate sprinkles that come from the Netherlands that you, I guess, put on toast in the morning? I don't know how this is a breakfast food.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: [laughs] But it is in the Netherlands. And so, you know, when I was in Amsterdam recently, and I remembered that Leah had said this. And so I figured out what, like, the most popular brand of chocolate sprinkles were in the Netherlands, and then I found it in the supermarket, and then I made sure to, like, pack it very nicely so it wouldn't get damaged in the suitcase because it's just like a cardboard box of sprinkles. And then I mailed it to Leah. And so sort of like, hopefully you thought that was thoughtful.

Leah: I thought it was so thoughtful. I was with my friend Katie—I told you this, and I was like, "What?"

Nick: Right? So I mean, that's a very good example.

Leah: Very thoughtful. I mentioned it once, Nick found it. It reminds me of early Christmases with my Pop-Pop. I brought so much joy. I'm not gonna lie, some of it may have gone directly into my mouth, not even on toast first. I just got really excited. And it was absolutely perfect for me.

Nick: Yeah. So it wasn't as expensive. Sorry, Leah. But it was—actually, it was a hassle. Actually, it was a lot of hassle to bring back a box of sprinkles. [laughs]

Leah: Which I think of as expensive in my mind. That's why I was like, "I feel like it was expensive. You brought it across an ocean!"

Nick: Yeah, there was—there was some effort involved. Not necessarily euros, but there was some effort.

Leah: Emotion. It was emotionally expensive. You had to carry it in a bag.

Nick: It was emotionally—it was definitely exhausting.

Leah: And then you packed it and you sent it.

Nick: Yeah. All these steps. So—and also for our letter writer, what are you supposed to do? Like, are you supposed to blow your budget and buy your brother expensive gifts? Like, that's not a world we live in, right?

Leah: They don't want you to do that either.

Nick: Yeah. So should you feel guilty? Nah.

Leah: And I also think—and I'm gonna be straight up with you ...

Nick: Yeah, tell it like it is, Leah Bonnema!

Leah: I've had this conversation with my therapist about almost this exact same thing.

Nick: Okay? Because you were in the habit of trying to buy expensive gifts for people?

Leah: Or people were—somebody gave me a gift that was like, you know—and I felt—I have trouble receiving things, and I feel guilty, and I should—they shouldn't have. And she was like, "Don't muddy the water." Like, that wasn't her exact words. It was much better. So it was basically like, "They want to give this to you. Don't take that away by feeling bad about it."

Nick: Yeah. Just accept it with gratitude.

Leah: And then enjoy it!

Nick: So our next question is quote, "We live out of state from our in-laws, and my mother-in-law has been purchasing items online and sending them to my kids. She recently sent a gift for my son, which is a repeat of a gift that she sent two years ago. I suspect she forgot. I showed it to my husband and I asked him what should we do? Should we let her know? And his thought was, we'll just let it slide. My concern is that she's on a fixed income, and so my thought was that we should send her a quick text or call and make a light joke and say something like, 'Oh my gosh, you must have forgotten you bought him this a few years ago. Do you want to take it back and buy him something new that he would like?' My concern is not so much about the gift, but more about her money going to waste. These gifts are just sitting in a closet somewhere. What do you all think?"

Nick: Well, I'm gonna pull a Leah Bonnema ...

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: ... and I'm gonna say that because this is your in-laws, I think Leah would tell you—and correct me if I'm wrong, Leah—that you should defer to the child whose parents this is, right?

Leah: Yes. So if your husband—if it's your husband's mom and he was like, "Let's let it go," I would let it go.

Nick: Right. So I think that's your best bet. And also, asking someone to take back a gift? I mean, now you've just created work for them, and it's like, I don't think you want to do that.

Leah: And I think that similar to our last question, it probably gave your mother-in-law joy to give the gift, and we could just sort of like leave it at that and just—I've gotten the same gift twice from somebody, I'll be honest.

Nick: I mean, what I like about that is that somebody knows you so well that they knew you liked this thing twice, I guess. Right?

Leah: They did. And they also know me so well, knowing that I'll probably lose it. And then I have a backup.

Nick: And in general, when we receive a gift we don't like, ideally you just deal with it yourself and you don't involve the gift giver. And that involves something that might be an exchange. Like, oh, you got a sweater in the wrong size, You don't want to go back to the person and be like, "Oh, I need a medium. Please take this back to the store and get me a medium." Like, no, it is just better to just—you go to the store and you do the exchange. Like, don't involve the gift giver if possible.

Leah: And I don't think it would be a comfortable conversation to be like, "I know you're on a tight budget, so I want you to—"

Nick: Ooh, yeah.

Leah: It's just I don't think that is gonna come out the way that—I appreciate that our letter-writer is caring and thoughtful and wants the best for their mother-in-law, but I feel like however you present that it's gonna come out with not the right tone.

Nick: Yeah, I don't know if you can land it. Right? No.

Leah: Because people probably will not hear that the right way.

Nick: No. And also, there's probably no right way to say it. [laughs] So that's also a problem.

Leah: It's a regifter. That's a bring it to somebody's birthday party.

Nick: Yeah, it's a great regift idea. And I think in the future, you might want to give them some ideas for things to get. You know, that might be an idea. Like, "Oh, here are some things that my son is interested in this year. Here are some interests. And so maybe a gift in one of these genres would be of interest." And so that might avoid duplication.

Leah: Yeah, I think that's a great idea.

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I'm organizing a group gift for my in-laws. It is my and my husband's main gift to them, so we're covering over half the cost. It's $160 in total. Because the other people in the group already got some other gifts from my in-laws, they're chipping in less. There are three other couples chipping in, and they're giving $25 each. Is there a polite way to write in the card that this is our main gift to them, hinting that we covered the majority of the cost? Our main concern is coming off cheap since the other contributors have other items they're also giving. I don't want my in-laws thinking we took a free ride on the group gift. Help!"

Leah: I can't think of a way to word this.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I basically wrote, "I think you're stuck." That's what I wrote. [laughs] Also, I think the in-law thing? The fact that this is the in-laws, I think once again is just an interesting detail, which I think doesn't change the answer here, but I think does color, color the vibe of this question a little bit. Because our letter-writer is very concerned about what the in-laws think of our letter-writer.

Leah: I do wonder if there's a way, since you're organizing the gift ...

Nick: Right?

Leah: If you're also wrapping the gift and it's you're doing the card ...

Nick: Yes, I think our letter-writer is doing the card.

Leah: .. so then is there a way to present it as your spearheading?

Nick: Okay?

Leah: Not, "I paid more. This is our main gift."

Nick: Uh-huh?

Leah: But I couldn't—what I do when I'm really thinking about things, I'll take our letters and I'll lay on the floor and I'll stare at the ceiling and I'll ponder.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: I put my thinking cap on. I mime it. I usually have it tied underneath my chin.

Nick: We're miming a tie?

Leah: [laughs] Yes. I love to mime it. It's like a full thinking cap.

Nick: Oh, this is very good object work.

Leah: I could not come up with the words for "I spearheaded this event."

Nick: It's because it's tricky. I mean, in general, when we do a group gift, it is sort of the implication that everyone contributed equally, so to try and clarify that that wasn't the case? Yeah, I mean, that's I think why we're struggling.

Leah: Is there a way to say, "Blankety blank," your husband's name "and myself wanted to get this for you. Blankety blank, blank" your other people's names "wanted to pitch in as well." And then the words "pitch in" are different words. "We hope you enjoy. Festive wishes. Happy holidays."

Nick: So I also laid on the floor and put on my imaginary thinking cap and tied it in a bow. I did not do these things, but I like the idea.

Leah: It's a fun time. It really is.

Nick: Is it a fun time?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Okay. So I'll try it.

Leah: It is a fun time.

Nick: [laughs] Okay, take your word for it. So I was thinking that one way maybe is that we want to make sure that we tell the gift recipients that "Oh, these other people, they also helped. I don't want you to think that I'm the only person that got this for you. This actually was a group gift, and some other people chipped in, too." And so to frame it as like, "Oh, I want to make sure that we're not leaving out these other names. And I want to highlight that these people did participate a little bit, that they didn't not do anything." Maybe that would hint that it wasn't an equal contribution, but there was like a something?

Leah: In that circumstance, we have to be physically giving them the gift. And then I think there's no card except for, like, "To Nana and Pop-Pop," or whoever you were saying.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And then when you give it to them, you say, "I also want—" and then there's no "From" on there. And then you say, "I want you to know that Sally and Roger also pitched in."

Nick: Yes. I think maybe that's the way to do it. And if you frame it as a "I want to make sure these people are acknowledged."

Leah: But then I wouldn't have this signed card. Because you can't just sign the card with your name and your husband's. You can't do that.

Nick: No, that's true.

Leah: But then if you just had the two.

Nick: Right. Yes. "To you guys," and then verbally "From us, and some of these other people also helped out." Yeah. Okay. You gotta really land that. And you also have to do it in a way that those other people are not there for that conversation, I think?

Leah: Yeah. That one feels like slightly sneaky in a way.

Nick: [laughs] Yeah. Because I think if those other people are around, then it's sort of like, "Oh, we're gonna get letters from those people." But sometimes if you're having a conversation with somebody and you don't want other people to hear it, that is usually a good sign that that's bad etiquette.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: That's usually a hint that you are doing something that's wrong. So maybe that is a sign that that is actually not viable.

Leah: That's how I feel when I am about to text something, then I feel like if my phone got stolen and everything went up, and that would be a text I wouldn't want people to see, then I don't text it.

Nick: Oh, that's a good rule. Yeah, the subpoena rule.

Leah: Mm-hmm.

Nick: Yeah. You never want to have your text on a large screen in the Congressional hearing. That's true. That's a good way to live your life. Yeah.

Leah: If other people heard it, would they feel bad?

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I think that's very similar to your barbecue rule.

Nick: Right? Would you still do the same thing? Yeah.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: I think that—I think we just give the gift, and I think we just let the gift givers think what they think. And I think we just know better for next year to not do a group gift in this way.

Leah: And then also, if you're wrapping it and you're doing the card and you're presenting it, even though you're signing everybody's names, they know you spearheaded the event.

Nick: That's true. Yeah. And I think you'll get the credit. But also sometimes we don't get credit and we just have to be okay with that.

Leah: And I think that if your in-laws—I don't think they're gonna think anything.

Nick: I would like to think they won't think anything. But our letter-writer is very concerned about what the in-laws think. So my reading between the lines here is that there might be a pattern of judgment in the past, and we're trying to avoid more of it with this gift.

Leah: And then I think that at which point your husband could maybe whisper in your family in-laws' ears, "Hey, this was our gift."

Nick: Yeah. "Just so you know."

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yeah. I mean, that actually, that could be the way to do it is just let the partner deal with it. And you could just be gracious about it and be like, "Here's a gift from all of us!"

Leah: Yeah, you could just be gracious and then let him do the dirty work.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, actually, good cop-bad cop works.

Leah: Very successfully. Nick and I do it all the time. I'm the bad cop. He's the good cop.

Nick: [laughs] Oh, that's so not true.

Leah: [laughs] Or is it?

Nick: Wouldn't it be amazing if you really were the bad cop in this relationship? What a twist that would be!

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: It's true, everybody. Leah's bad cop. Let it be known.

Leah: I would love to be the bad cop. I just visualize the outfit. I have to have an outfit change.

Nick: Oh!

Leah: And I would probably have to stop smiling so much.

Nick: Yeah, that would probably ruin the effect. That's true.

Leah: I gotta work on my serious, serious face.

Nick: And I have to work on being nicer, I guess.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So do you have questions for us about anything? Let us know! You can let us know through our website: Or you can send us a text message or leave us a voicemail: (267) CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!