Dear Amy:

How does one handle Christmas gift-giving for a child who has moved out?

My oldest daughter moved out the day after her 18th birthday during her senior year of high school. She moved in with her older boyfriend whom she had kept secret from the family.

She gave up a sports scholarship and is not only not going to college but also is not working.

I intend to buy her Christmas presents but am unsure about how equal I need to keep things between her and the three younger children still at home.

I am not planning on buying her "Santa" gifts, as she won't be with us Christmas morning.

My mom thinks I need to keep everything completely equal or it will seem as if I am punishing her for her choices.

I am really unsure of what to do.

On the one hand, I think that as an adult things change and the receiving of gifts tends to decrease a bit. On the other hand, I don't want to hurt her feelings or have her feel less loved.

How should I handle this?

Dear Perplexed:

Let me channel the Christmas spirit for a moment and make a plea for generosity and reconciliation. There is no need to shower your "adult" daughter with gifts the way you might a younger child, but you could make the transition by giving her one or two practical things she might need in her life, along with a "stocking" of silly, sentimental gifts from you and the younger kids.

You don't approve of your daughter's choices, but Christmas is a time of light and hope, a time to remind your daughter that she will always be part of the family. She has time and will have opportunities to turn her life around. You will want to be there when it happens.

Dear Amy:

I recently went to three holiday gatherings and, although I enjoyed my time at each home, one thing sticks in my craw.

Each host or hostess asked, "Does anyone want coffee?" and I asked, "Is it decaffeinated?" Either they don't bother to have decaf on hand or someone else wants the caffeine, so the host/hostess announces, "I'll make regular coffee." I end up going without.

This just seems inconsiderate to me. If I have any caffeine, I'm awake for about 24 hours straight - plus I have problems with breast cysts, which can be aggravated by caffeine.

I realize this is not an earth-shattering problem, but I would like people to be aware of how inconsiderate this is. Maybe I should just carry a jar of instant decaf with me.

Dear Caffeine:

You're right. This problem is not only not earth-shattering; it doesn't even qualify as a problem.

There are tea bag-type contraptions with decaf coffee in them - perhaps you can pack a couple of these in a baggie, carry them with you, and ask your holiday host for hot water.