DEAR ANNIE: A few months ago, my mom came to visit from out of state. We've always had a strained relationship and never seen eye to eye. While she was here, she made a big deal about the fact that I wash my dishes with bristled brushes and not dishcloths. I explained that dishcloths harbor bacteria and that bristled brushes are more environmentally friendly than cloths and sponges (in my own opinion). She offered to go to the store to buy me some dishcloths. I explained that my limited supply was because of my personal wishes and not monetary reasons and that I would not use them if she bought them. So she didn't.

Fast-forward five months and my Christmas present in the mail includes dishcloths. I am very annoyed, as I feel she couldn't care less about my feelings and thinks she is right no matter what. It also feels like a jab. Should I let her know my feelings on the subject or let it slide? — MOTHER DOESN'T ALWAYS KNOW BEST

DEAR MDAKB: Bristled brushes are the most hygienic choice. They dry quickly and are easy to clean. So you're right. But that's beside the point.

Your mother will always think she knows best. I could tell you to talk to her and explain why the gesture seemed patronizing and hurt your feelings, but realistically, she's probably going to keep "sending you dishcloths" in one form or another for the rest of her life. All you can change is how you receive them. Rather than wring every passive-aggressive meaning from the gift, accept it at face value and say thank you.

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