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Ask Amy: The Etiquette Of Re-Gifting

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Ask Amy: The Etiquette Of Re-Gifting

Ask Amy: The Etiquette Of Re-Gifting

Ask Amy: The Etiquette Of Re-Gifting

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Amy Dickinson, syndicated columnist of "Ask Amy" for The Chicago Tribune, talks about the ways the current economy is forcing us to bend the rules this holiday season (re-gifting anyone?) and how to tell someone "Sorry, you won't be getting anything this year."


This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. In New York City today, Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade ended as it always does with Santa Claus who ushers in the frenzy and anxiety of the next set of holidays and given the economic circumstances in which many of us find ourselves, this year seems likely to be more anxious than most. Credit and cash-strapped shoppers are reconsidering the rules of gift giving. You might have crossed some neighbors off the list or made a pact with the in-laws that only the kids get presence this year. But you also know that somebody is going to break the rules and go high end and worry about embarrassing others. And there are eternal dilemmas about regifting and so much more.

So, we've asked "Ask Amy's" Amy Dickinson to join us. Later in the hour, we'll get you an update on the situation in Mumbai. And we'll say Happy Thanksgiving to our colleague Gwen Thompkins who's in the Congo this holiday, and asked her to share some stories of her reporter's notebook. But first, we want to hear from you with questions or solutions, on gift giving this year. Our phone number 800-989-8255, email us You can also join the conversation on our website, go to and click on Talk of the Nation. Amy Dickinson writes the syndicated column "Ask Amy" for the Chicago Tribune. She joins us now by phone from our home in Ithaca, New York. Welcome and Happy Thanksgiving, Amy.

Ms. AMY Ms. DICKINSON (Syndicated column Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune): Thank you, Neal.

CONAN: And what kinds of letters are you getting about concerns, about gifting this season?

Ms. DICKINSON: Well, I'm actually, as usual, you know what's happening out in the world, happens in my column.

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Ms. DICKINSON: So I'm hearing from readers who are concerned about how to tell the kids that they're not getting as much this year. How to stop a gift exchange after it has run its course? And I'm also hearing from readers offering solutions which is fantastic.

CONAN: Now here's one that you sent on to us, so I'm going to read it. Dear Amy, I'm responding with - to the conversation about how to cancel gift exchanges with far away friends and relatives. A few years ago, my family went through the same thing. We had a common solution. Instead of gifts, we sent family photographs around to family members. Each year we choose two holiday-related objects such as an angel or a snowman and family members pose with these objects for their photo exchange. I put together an album of this pictures, and it's a lot of fun.

Ms. DICKINSON: I know. I love that. I actually really like the idea and in my column I suggested that if you're going to cancel a gift exchange, it's best to offer a solution like an alternative, like this year, instead of sending presents, let's think of something new to do, which is great. And the times, you know, the times are right for this.

CONAN: Yet, it sounds great. But particularly that first year and you suggested - doesn't it cause resentment to people really want to do it.

Ms. DICKINSON: Well the thing - the fact is some people actually do their holiday shopping - not me for instance, but some people do it early and they may say, well, wait a minute, you know, we like the gift exchange. We want to keep it going, and that's fine. You know, you can absolutely respect other people's desire to stay with same tradition. But basically, when you contact people to suggest an alternative, you're also saying to them, well, this is what we're interested in doing and then you can do it.

CONAN: It's a negotiation, in effect.

Ms. DICKINSON: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it can get a little dicey but you know, it's never easy to make a change in a family. Sometimes it takes two or three years, I've been through this with my own family.

CONAN: And that question you raised earlier, how do you explain to the kids that this is not going to be the year that they get the Wii they've been hoping for.

Ms. DICKINSON: Well, Neal, I don't know if you ever had one of these Christmas's, but I did. I remember my mother coming to us and saying, it's as if she had just thought of it, hey, I have an idea, let's have a home made Christmas this year. And basically, my husband just told this, too. He's one of 13 children and he said that one year, his parents basically announced we're not purchasing presents. We will buy ingredients for you to make something, but we're going to have a creative Christmas. And when I asked him, how that went, he said, well, I'll tell you this much, it was really memorable.

CONAN: Yeah. And I'm sure they served broccoli that year. You know.

Ms. DICKINSON: But you know, it doesn't have to be a Christmas where you do without. It doesn't have to be that kind of memory because - especially if you enlist children to try and come up with, and you assist them in coming up with homemade gifts for other people. You know, the kids are actually very, very clever and they, you know, I know a young girl who can knock out a pot holder in about 30 seconds. So you get 15, 20 of those, they cost next to nothing to make.

CONAN: And there you go, you've got - there's the whole in-laws, settled right there.


CONAN: Let's get some callers in on the conversation. Our guest of course, "Ask Amy's" Amy Dickinson, 800-989-8255, email What kind of gift giving dilemmas are you facing this season? Let's start with Michelle and Michelle is on the line with us from Green Bay in Wisconsin. Happy Thanksgiving, Michelle.

MICHELLE (Caller): Happy Thanksgiving to you guys, too. This is so on my line because I have been regifting for years.

CONAN: And regifting means these are gifts you got from somebody else a couple of years ago and well, they find their way on to a third party,

MICHELLE: Yeah, I actually have the dresser top in the spare bedroom is relegated to the regifting items. Whether it will be a bottle of wine or a candle or whatever, everything ends up on the dresser. When I have to put a basket together for a charity auction or I have to, you know, come up with a gift for somebody, I will take these things off of this add a couple of new things, put them in the baskets that I have received. And really it's easy for wrapping too, because you know, all the fluff is in there, the cellophane still on there. You just restuff it and regift it, and you're good to go.

CONAN: I assume it's the bottle of Matisse Rose(ph). It's not the vintage Chambliss (unintelligible)?

MICHELLE: Well, actually I am - I'm kind of a sweet wine person, so it's a Riesling or a German wine, I keep it for myself. But I have friends who will give me red wines which I don't drink. My tastes haven't matured to that level yet. And you know, since I'm 40 something, they may not ever. So there was a maturity auction that I put together an Italian basket for. So I was able to throw in a bottle of that wine. You know, get a pound of Barilla pasta for 88 cents, a jar of sauce, a couple of other things. And boom, you've got a great basket, they brought in you know, wonderful amount of money for the charity. But it cost me nothing, because I had a lot of the stuff already.

CONAN: That's great. Do you send these back to relatives? And if so, do you make sure to keep track of this from Uncle Bob? Be sure not to send it back to him.

MICHELLE: I do actually have posted notes on some things to make sure that they don't end up going back to the person that I received them from. And it's you know, it's not that there's a junk on the regifting area. It's just stuff, you know, really nice things that I wouldn't necessarily use or I'm allergic to, like Alpaca and wool and stuff like that. So, sometimes I'll get like an amazing Alpaca scarf. And I can't use it, but I know somebody else who's going to love it. And you know, I don't - I don't think of regifting as you know, a cheesy cheap kind of thing. I think of it as you know, a way to get things into the hands of people who will truly appreciate them.

CONAN: And Amy, any problems with the ethics of regifting?

Ms. DICKINSON: No, actually. And I know, people who do this and they're very open about it. It's a lot of fun but Michelle brings up a great, another great idea that I have friends that do this. They do a white elephant gift exchange. And that does involve some junk. I mean, the kitschier, the better. And you wrap everything, and people have different of doing white elephant exchanges. But you can draw a number and then, you - you're gift is assigned a number, you open it. And if you don't want it, you put it back, you kind of put it back in the pile, then you draw again and you can trade. It's actually a lot of fun.

CONAN: Michelle, thanks very much. And sounds like you're going to have a happy holiday.

MICHELLE: Oh, Absolutely. We always do. It's about the kinship, the family, the friends, the love. It's not about the gift.

CONAN: All right. Just make sure not to let anybody in to the extra bedroom so they can see what's on the dress...

Ms. DICKINSON: yeah, a lot of fun.

CONAN: Michelle, thanks very much and sounds like you're going to have a happy holiday.

MICHELLE: Oh, absolutely. We always do. It's about the kinship, the family, the friends, the love. It's not about the gift.

CONAN: All right, and just make sure not to let anybody into that extra bedroom so they could see what's on the dresser.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MICHELLE: Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Let's see if we find more dilemmas and solutions for gift-giving. Lilly is on the line. Lilly calling us from Cincinnati in Ohio.

LILLY (Caller): Hi, Neal.

CONAN: Hi, Lilly.

LILLY: I was just calling to share. I had a gift-giving fiasco about three years ago. I had a family member who lived out of town and I know they wanted a specific gift so I had that sent but I was trying to be a little cheaper so I - it was a free shipping deal?


LILLY: And also I couldn't get it wrapped because it was too large. So they told me, you know, go ahead and I called this relative and said, you know, something's coming. I couldn't get it wrapped for you, blah, blah, blah. Well, three years later, I head through the great side of my family that this item should've been sent to a friend's house, should've been wrapped and then delivered to this relative's house. And to this day, I don't think I'll ever live it down. So...

CONAN: So, in other words you should have sent it to, you know somebody who lived nearby so they could wrap it and deliver it.

LILLY: Yeah. And they're about 2,000 - they were about 2,000 miles away.

CONAN: So, this is still causing - still causing...

LILLY: A lot of tension unfortunately, yes.

CONAN: What else do you have to talk about around the holiday table? Amy, is this - there are obvious solutions for this but you know, on the other hand, lighten up.

Ms. DICKINSON: I'm sorry. But this is ridiculous.

LILLY: My thing.

Ms. DICKINSON: I can't - I sort of can't even believe it. The nerve, the nerve. Well, people just totally don't get it, do they?

LILLY: No. I - you know and that basically what my response was, you know, I said, hey, it just happened, but I'm really shocked that you are still being this upset about it.

Ms. DICKINSON: No. That is amazing. That's amazing. And I'm certain that you continue to give gifts to these people, and I'm not suggesting that you stop.

LILLY: Yeah.

Ms. DICKINSON: But they really need to figure out how to receive something with grace. I mean, really.

LILLY: Well, I heard about your show the other and I said, oh my gosh, I have to call in and just hear someone's response other than the people I talk to all the time and friends that I tell the story to because, am I crazy? And most people respond the way you do, but I really - I just really wanted to, you know, hear it again and again share something.

CONAN: Well, Happy Thanksgiving.

LILLY: Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.


LILLY: Have a lovely day.

CONAN: Bye-bye.

LILLY: Bye-bye.

CONAN: And Amy, the rules are often silly because the rules, you know? Every family I guess has them but, you know, lighten up.

Ms. DICKINSON: Lighten up. Exactly. And you know, another thing, families also need to, you know - especially this year, it might be a necessity to dial it down and one way to do that is to sort of do a secret Santa drawing which is what my family does actually on Thanksgiving Day. There's so many children in the family that it's, you know, hard to give gifts to each child. So each family will draw a name like if you have three kids, you draw three names of other cousins and you give three gifts instead of 25 gifts and that's another way to handle it.

CONAN: Stay with us, Amy. And if you have a gift-giving dilemma this holiday season, give us a phone call, 800-989-8255 or zap us an email, I'm Neal Conan. Stay with us, it's the Talk of the Nation from NPR News.

CONAN: This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. We continue to watch the situation in Mumbai today. There are reports that Indian commandos have freed some of the hostages and killed at least some of the suspected Islamist attackers. We'll break in with any major developments during the program and we'll bring you an update from Mumbai in the next half hour. Here at home, most of us are focused on family and friends and food for the Thanksgiving holiday which means tomorrow, it's all about starting to find the right gifts with the economy in the dumps and more empty wallets, that could be a bit harder this year, shorter lists, agreed spending limits, regifting, "Ask Amy's" Amy Dickinson writes the syndicated "Ask Amy" column for the Chicago Tribune. She's joining us today to help us make sense of it all. We want to hear from those of you with dilemmas this holiday season. Give us a call, 800-989-8255, email us You can also join the conversation on our website. Go to and click on Talk of the Nation and let's go to Susan. And Susan's with us from Norwood in Pennsylvania.

SUSAN (Caller): Hello.

CONAN: Hi, Susan. Happy Thanksgiving.

SUSAN: Yeah, you too there. You and your whole staff.

CONAN: Thank you.

SUSAN: I had a thought which I've done concerning your gifting?

CONAN: Mm hmm.

SUSAN: And this is the truth. I have given those instant scratch-off tickets for Christmas gifts, birthday gifts in a card and my friends have gotten a kick out it.

CONAN: So the lottery cards costs what? A dollar each, something like that?

SUSAN: You can get that anywhere and at Pennsylvania and I think New Jersey and Delaware, they go from a dollar to $10.

CONAN: And have any of your friends gotten lucky?

SUSAN: Yes. So I had a friend win $25 for her birthday.

CONAN: That's not so bad. Amy, what do you think?

SUSAN: She was happy, happy.

Ms. DICKINSON: I actually have heard of this before and I think it's a really neat idea. You do need to remember that some people actually consider the scratch off and lottery games to be gambling and you know, you don't want to give a gift like that to somebody you suspect might object to it.

SUSAN: Oh, no. I know what you mean.

Ms. DICKINSON: Yeah. But I think that's a lot of fun and a really neat idea.

SUSAN: That is what I do for someone's birthday. In fact, I plan on doing that for Christmas and my friends have really - they don't gamble so it's not like I'm causing trouble. But they think it's so cool. And they give them back to me, too. Like my birthday. I had my friends send me one or she's - yeah, I didn't win but I said, thank you. I said, I thought you might like those. So we tease each other with it.

CONAN: Does it include a note that if you win over $10,000, you have to - you have to share?

SUSAN: No. That I would just say, take me out to a nice dinner.

CONAN: There you go, Susan. Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you have a nice dinner today.

SUSAN: Thank you.

CONAN: So long.


CONAN: And that's one of the alternative things to take as you suggested, Amy. Dial things down this season and the problem is, you have a lot of these agreements within families, that you know, everybody's going say, all right, no more than ex-amount, you know, $10, $25, whatever it might for everybody else. But you're terrified that somebody's going to break the limit because you know that answers and never pays attention.

Ms. DICKINSON: No. And you know what? I maintain, that's OK. You know, everybody does sort of gift, you know, give gifts at their own comfort level and that - if somebody wants to be very extravagant, that's fine and it's really important to receive a gift with grace and gratitude no matter what it is. It's vital and I think this is something obviously we need to demonstrate to our children. Now I have another idea to share for listeners.

CONAN: Go ahead.

Ms. DICKINSON: If you're interested.


Ms. DICKINSON: OK. So last year, I went rummaging through some shoe boxes at my mom's house and I found family photographs of my siblings when we were really little.

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Ms. DICKINSON: That none of us had ever seen and so I, you know, had them scanned and reproduced, it costs maybe $2 a piece and gave them as gifts and it was so much fun. It's just - it's very, very personal and it's a lot of fun to do that.

CONAN: All right. Let's get another caller on the line and this is Kate. Kate's with us - calling from the freeway in Arizona.

KATE (Caller): Thank you.

CONAN: Hi, Kate. Go ahead, please.

KATE: Thank you. I wanted to tell a story that happened 30 years ago. On the 25th of the month every month there would be a basket of food and toys for my two children and I was a single parent and really struggling and there would be a Christmas card just says, I know how hard you're working and that basket came for two years until I was finally able to finish college and get a promotion and move on and I finally was able to track down the person who gave me the baskets through a local grocer in Portland, Oregon. So I made a deal with him and he found someone else, and I paid for the basket every month until that person could pass it on too.

CONAN: Oh, that's a great story, Kate. Who was it in fact? Who was your benefactor?

KATE: It was a person I didn't even know well. It was someone who is an acquaintance of an acquaintance. Who was just an unbelievably wonderful, generous person.

CONAN: And who knew you were struggling and knew you could use it and knew you needed it.

KATE: Yes.

CONAN: Amy, that's a great story.

Ms. DICKINSON: That is the most wonderful story I think I've ever heard and I love 30 years later, I can tell it's really hard to even talk about it because it's so moving and it's lovely and especially the best part is that you chose to pass it along. What a wonderful thing this person started.

CONAN: Isn't that called paying it forward?

Ms. DICKINSON: Yeah. It's great.

KATE: Yes. Yes.

CONAN: And Kate, that's some time now since your kids were part of this deal, did they remember it?

KATE: Yes, they do. They do remember it very clearly because there were times that there were little toys or things and we just had so little - we, you know, we made cookies for everybody else for Christmas and bread and jellies and when I was finally able to afford to, you know, send people things for Christmas and this was another 10 years later, I went to the mall and the local, you know, whatever cheese stores and everybody gifts, and I started getting telephone calls and letters and cards, saying did I do something wrong? Are you mad at me? I look forward to your cookies all year.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. DICKINSON: Oh, what an amazing story. And you know what? This is the day before black Friday when you know there are people out there who are going to get up at five in the morning and line up outside a store to get in there and be the first to get the latest whatever. And so I just think it's so - such a gift, Kate to tell us a story and for all of us to remember what's it's really, really supposed to be about.

KATE: Thank you very much for letting me tell it.

CONAN: And Kate, have a great Thanksgiving.

KATE: You, too.

CONAN: So long.

KATE: Bye.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Here's an email we have from Lyndsey(ph) and this says, last year my husband and I suggested to my in-laws that we give to charity instead of our annual gift exchange. We found out that the fact that my sister-in-law was very offended. She said, she saw it as a way to connect. This way my brother-in-law is out of work. We've decided not to continue with the gift exchange this year mainly because of their financial situation. I'd like to make a homemade gift to let them know that we care but I don't want to offend them. Any thoughts?

Ms. DICKINSON: Well, I can't imagine that a homemade gift would offend anyone. But I do know, my family does the charity gift exchange and I do know there are people who just plain don't like it. But I would suggest that most people appreciate it and especially if you choose a charity or a foundation or a cause that fits the person - the recipient. I think that's really important.

CONAN: Let's get another caller on the line. Betty Lyn(ph) is on the line with us from Chincoteaque in Virginia.

BETTY LYN (Caller): Hello.

CONAN: Hi, Betty Lyn. Happy Thanksgiving.

BETTY LYN: Oh, back to you.

CONAN: And what's your question?

BETTY LYN: Oh, thank you. I have parents who are in their 80s and they're well-to-do. They can buy anything they need for themselves. I'm in my 50s and whenever I ask them what they want for Christmas, they say, nothing. And they're not going to give each other gifts this Christmas, that's their decision. I don't know what to do for them. I'm at a loss. Of course, I want to buy them something for Christmas. So please, Amy, help me.

Ms. DICKINSON: OK, Betty Lyn, I have an idea. I - if they're able, I think it would be a great gift if you would do something with them that you think they would enjoy. Take them to a concert, to a meal - do something a little out of the ordinary with them because I think giving someone an experience is really a wonderful gift and it's something, you know, people can't purchase for themselves. So does that appeal to you?

BETTY LYNN: And that sounds wonderful except my dad has arthritis so bad that he can't walk, and his pride will not let him go anywhere in a wheelchair.

Ms. DICKINSON: OK. I have another idea.


Ms. DICKINSON: You bring an experience to him. You round up some kids from the high school, the magical choir or something and get them to come over and sing and you can serve brownies and cake and just give them a little holiday, you know, a little taste of the holidays.

BETTY LYNN: That's like Christmas caroling at home.


BETTY LYNN: What a super idea. That sounds doable. Thank you so very much.


BETTY LYNN: All righty. Bye-bye now.

CONAN: Have a great holiday, Betty Lynn.

Ms. DICKINSON: Thank you.

CONAN: So long. Here's an email from Melinda. We have one child but our brothers all have five children each. We agreed the adults don't receive gifts but the children do. Our son receives one gift from each of the families but we have more than 25 gifts to give to their children. Many years, we were the poorest of the clan and it was a hardship. How can we make this more fair?

Ms. DICKINSON: Well, this is actually were a secret Santa comes in because those with five children, let's say, they're eleven and all, you write down all of their names. The only rule is you can't draw your own child's name and so those with five kids a piece would each pick five names and they would give to five of the nieces and nephews. And it really, really, really cuts down. And those with one would choose one.

CONAN: That works out and so everybody buys gifts supporting to the proportion of children that they have.

Ms. DICKINSON: Right. It's worked out really, really well in our family. And this way, you can maybe send a little bit more and we always encourage the kids to participate in terms of doing the shopping so there's Secret Santa within a reasonable budget.

CONAN: And these days, 25 bucks or something like that?

Ms. DICKINSON: Well, yeah. I mean, I would say that's along the high end. Yeah.

CONAN: All right. We're talking with "Ask Amy's" Amy Dickinson as we do on a regular basis her on Talk of the Nation. We're talking about gift giving dilemmas this holiday season with the economy, the way it is. Everybody's got new kinds of situations to face. If you'd like to join the conversation, give us a call, 800-989-8255, email us And you're listening to Talk of the Nation from Let's get another caller on the line. And this is Katrina. Katrina with us from Richmond in Virginia.

KATRINA (Caller): Hi. Well, I used to have just a terrible time with my former mother-in-law who gave me just the most atrocious gift and to keep peace within the family, I always appeared to appreciate them as much as I possibly could while we were together. And then I would get home with my husband and say, oh, can you believe this? Can you believe that? I hate this so much. And he would look at me and say, oh, I thought you loved that. And I guess that was a testament to my acting.

Ms. DICKINSON: And I understand this is your former mother-in-law.

KATRINA: My former mother-in-law and my former husband, yes.

Ms. DICKINSON: And honestly, I think the fact, I actually don't think it's a great idea to come home and say I hate this, can you believe it? Because you're making it clear to your husband, anyway, that you're being incredibly disingenuous. I think we all have people in our gift chain who don't give us what we would like but sometimes the atrocious gifts are the most memorable.

CONAN: I guess somebody has to buy those sheer pads. Yeah.

Ms. DICKINSON: Well, yeah. Someone does. But there's a fine line between being very gracious and thankful and gushing because what happens is you don't want to encourage the person too much.

KATRINA: Oh, no. I was never gushing. I mean, I think I was very appropriate and polite, and he knew as well as I did that his mother's gifts were not to my taste.

CONAN: And is it that marriage bond supposed to be at least a sort of conspiracy among the two?

Ms. DICKINSON: Yeah. But let me make one suggestion because this is a really common issue. And this is the case where the husband for instance could say to his mother next year, you know what Susan would really, really love? And just sort of make a gentle nudging sort of suggestion in a different direction.

KATRINA: That would have been wonderful.

Ms. DICKINSON: Yeah. This is the time when with in-laws, it's always best if they're offspring deal with them.

CONAN: Because they're stuck with them one way or the other.

Ms. DICKINSON: Yeah, that's right.

CONAN: You could have said, you know, she really wanted the chia head.

Ms. DICKINSON: Exactly.

CONAN: Katrina, thanks very much for the call.


CONAN: And have a happy Thanksgiving.

KATRINA: You, too.

CONAN: And we have a question, well, this is an internal question. How young is too young to get an iPhone?

Ms. DICKINSON: Well, first of all, iPhones are incredibly expensive.

CONAN: Yeah. And the service is not cheap either.

Ms. DICKINSON: Honestly, I think that giving a child under, let's assume you have the money for an iPhone, I don't think any child should start their cellphone usage with an iPhone. They lose them.

CONAN: This would be an upgrade.

Ms. DICKINSON: Oh, OK. Well, I don't know. I would say, if you can afford it and if this is the big, big, big blow-away gift, I don't know, I'm thinking maybe 15.

CONAN: Fifteen. This was not the answer our staff member was hoping for. So I'd buy some Apple stock if I were you. Amy, what are you doing this Thanksgiving Day?

Ms. DICKINSON: I am taking my green bean casserole out of the oven and heading down the street to my cousin's house.

CONAN: And how many people are you going to be there with?

Ms. DICKINSON: There will probably be about 25 people at this dinner and then later, Neal, I'm double dipping and I will be at a dinner with around 65 people tonight.

CONAN: And I was on a family visit up in the Syracuse, New York area just last week and I know that that part of the New York state is already getting unfair amount of snow. So does it look pretty seasonal there in Ithaca?

Ms. DICKINSON: We went sledding this morning and I started the day as I often do on Thanksgiving - hunting with my brother-in-law who's a falconer and we went out with his falcon hunting.

CONAN: Hunting with falcons?


CONAN: I've never done that. That must be fun.

Ms. DICKINSON: Well, it's really amazing. And this bird catches ducks.

CONAN: Ducks?

Ms. DICKINSON: We then eat.

CONAN: The ducks have to be about twice its size.

Ms. DICKINSON: They are. It's amazing. He blows them up in the sky with one blow. It's amazing.

CONAN: Amy, it sounds like you're going to eat well this Thanksgiving.

Ms. DICKINSON: Oh, yes.

CONAN: Amy Dickinson, have a great holiday season. We'll talk to you in a couple of weeks.

Ms. DICKINSON: OK, Neal. You, too.

CONAN: Amy Dickinson writes the syndicated column, "Ask Amy" for the Chicago Tribune and many other newspapers around the country. She joined us today from her home in Ithaca, New York. Up next, we'll get an update from India on the attacks in Mumbai, plus a Thanksgiving Day call to our colleague Gwen Thompkins, she's spending this holiday this year far from home in Congo. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's Talk of the Nation from NPR News.

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