Dear Amy:

My husband and I have been married for 51/2 years. We have a beautiful 3-year-old daughter, and she is the only grandchild for my in-laws.

Recently, due to a job opportunity, we moved across the country - 2,300 miles away from my husband's hometown. We love our new city. My mother-in-law just cannot come to grips with our move. She calls my husband two to three times a day, sends multiple daily e-mails, and makes frequent comments about "when you move back home." She cries at least once a week when speaking to us.

We send regular letters, including pictures of our daughter and artwork she has done. We schedule weekly Webcam teleconferences with them so they can see us and talk to us in real time. We've made plans for them to visit for a week during the Christmas holiday.

My mother-in-law seems to have gone around the bend concerning Christmas gifts. I'm not exaggerating when I say that there are no fewer than 20 boxes of gifts stacked in our closet. Today she e-mailed to let us know that there are three or four more boxes on the way! We've tried to be humorous about this to persuade her to stop, and she just laughs it off. Then we told her that we're trying to teach our daughter that Christmas is about more than the gifts.

My husband has urged her to stop, and then the next day we got an apologetic e-mail saying that more gifts are on the way.

Any suggestions on how to handle the excess? Would we be out of line to tell her that all gifts over a certain quantity will be donated to needy children before being opened?

- Gifts Up to Here

Dear Gifts:

Clearly, your mother-in-law is quite upset at your move; your husband needs to acknowledge her anxiety and urge her to change her behavior - or get help to change it.

It's great that you are so conscientious about keeping in touch, but don't let your mother-in-law emotionally manipulate you into doing more. She is intrusive and evidently has complete command of the Internet - therefore she has the means to be in touch constantly.

You could deal with the gift excess by telling her before Christmas that you will choose five packages for your daughter to open on Christmas morning. Tell her that you'll save the rest for the family's visit. She can give your daughter one or two more gifts from the pile - and then urge her to return the rest or perhaps the whole family could donate them in your daughter's and her grandmother's honor to Toys for Tots.

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