Continuing on from last week, we received quite a large reaction to the letter regarding the receipt of a hoover as a significant birthday present; most of which disagreed with my advice! While I remain true to my advice here, I did say in the original response that I would share readers’ thoughts on the matter, if received (though edited due to space constraints). By the way, I also think that a hoover can be a perfectly generous gift; if it is something that you want or need.

However, if something provokes an uncomfortable or unhappy emotion, it is absolutely ok to express that too; even if it goes no further than an anonymous letter to this page, simply to get it off your chest or to know that your feelings are valid. We are all individuals, and nobody can truly understand how we feel, only ourselves.

We are all entitled to our opinions – and we don’t necessarily have to always agree – but we are equally entitled to our feelings.

Dear Miriam,

I got a cordless vacuum cleaner as well for my birthday. It was a lesser well-known brand as my husband is a sheep farmer. I’m delighted with it, no wires etc. I would not look bad on your present. I think your family was trying to make your life a little easier for you. Open up that box and enjoy.

Regular reader

Dear Miriam,

To say I’m angry is an underestimation after reading the letter from one of your readers regarding the “hoover birthday gift”. What have women become?

Messages of empowerment seem to have gone to their heads. Imagine the family spending big money and time deciding on what they consider to be a labour saving device. It appears they do not wish her to be a “skivvy” by gifting her such a useful appliance that will certainly shorten her chore time. While she does acknowledge they meant well, can you imagine how they will feel if she doesn’t even remove it from its box? We really have come a long way since the famine.

Yours sincerely, Anne

Dear Miriam,

I have read the Journal all my life and have never felt the need to write until now. I hope that lady does not take your advice and return the gift.

I am disappointed, amazed and surprised at your advice Miriam. I have so often quoted your sage words. Gift receipts are for other people, not for your children’s gifts.

The first problem is the suggestion that the gift implied she was a skivvy. I thought this slave-like mentality disappeared with the turn of the millennium. Being the person who knows more about household chores does not a skivvy make. Making a home for your family and showing good example about keeping the living areas comfortably clean does not imply servitude. Can you imagine the planning and scheming that went into the present? Checking the reviews, choosing which version, deciding on the family’s needs, pets or no pets, etc.

Most households have a limited amount of disposable income, spending more on great essentials rather than worthless baubles prepares children for their futures. The ability to say “you may tidy your floors because me and my mean machine are on our way” would further this learning and extend the fun. This is life and living. Don’t let it pass you by because someone down the road got a more impractical gift. I think it’s a great tribute to her as a parent that her children are well prepared for adulthood.

My mother was never, ever satisfied with any gift she ever received. She gets visited once every month by one son and once every six months by another. Maybe she should have shown some appreciation for the gifts. My mother-in-law is visited or called every single day by each of her children and she remembers every gift she ever got.

My family gave me a special hoover, I gave my husband a bread maker. We think of each other every time we use them. Be grateful.

Name with editor.