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By CAROLINE SPOSTO

Dear Caroline,

My husband is a piano teacher. As a result, a lot of well-meaning people are in the habit of giving us piano-themed gifts. We have everything from mugs, to T-shirts, to framed art, to clocks, to potholders, to refrigerator magnets, to pajamas emblazoned with pianos. A few of these items are high quality. Most are on the cheap side.

How can we tactfully tell people we don’t want any more piano-themed gifts?

…Bored with all things Baby Grand

Dear Bored,

Let’s start by looking past the pianos:

When people give you something, it’s usually not because they think you need it. It’s because they feel an emotional need to give.

Next time a kitschy coffee cup or a 24-karat-gold item makes someone think of you and open their wallet, look past the piano and see that gift as evidence you’re appreciated. Accept graciously so they’ll feel appreciated too.

Now, back to the pianos:

Find an unobtrusive place in your home where all of those gifts can be on display without taking over your life or ruining your décor. If that’s impossible, get some boxes and stow the piano shrine with the promise to bring it out for a special annual occasion. Pack the items with the same care you give holiday ornaments. It wouldn’t hurt to jot down an inventory while you’re at it. Then start a tradition. How about an annual party on Beethoven’s birthday with piano everything all around and your favorite gift-givers invited?

That piano collection can be a sweet running joke between you and your husband. Every partnership is better with a few inside jokes.

If you have young children, please don’t let on that you think piano-themed presents are silly. Setting an example of ingratitude will teach them to grow into critical, ungrateful adults.

Finally, Bored, I want you to learn to refuse delivery on boredom. Life can only be as vibrant or dull as one’s imagination. Once you make a dedication to living in technicolor instead of black and white, you’ll never go back.

I hope this answer strikes the right chord with you,

Caroline

Do you have a problem that’s been on your mind for a while? Send it to: questionforcaroline@gmail.com.

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