DEAR ANNIE: I am 75 and in a great relationship with a wonderful man of 83. He is a widower after 57 years of marriage. I have been divorced for 30 years after a 26-year marriage. I feel very strongly that I have met the man I could spend the rest of my life with. We have agreed that we are "a couple" committed to each other. We each have our own homes, and marriage is not on the table. I am financially stable, while he is quite well-off.

What bothers me is this: For Christmas, he gave me a ring to be worn on my left ring finger to show everyone I am "taken." Though I love the idea and had hoped for a ring, I am so disappointed that he gave me a very inexpensive piece of costume jewelry.

I have an extremely nice diamond ring that I wear on my right hand every day and several really nice rings that I wear on my left hand, depending on my dress for the day. I don't want to wear the ring he gave me every day and put my other rings aside. It doesn't look like a ring you would give someone for a commitment. I would wear it proudly if this were all he could afford, but it bothers me that it is a cheap ring ($100) when I know that he spends $15,000 to $17,500 yearly on his racehorses and that he gave his employees over $10,000 in Christmas bonuses.

This man tells me every day I am the light of his life and he can't imagine life without me. Am I being too materialistic? Should I let him know how I feel? Or should I just accept it and move on? — DOOLOLLY IN TEXAS

DEAR DOOLOLLY: The earliest known use of wedding rings was among ancient Egyptians, whose rings were merely braided reeds or hemp. The circle was meant to symbolize eternity, and rings were worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because the ancient Egyptians believed that contained a vein running directly to the heart. When the hemp or reed rings eventually broke, the couples often upgraded to more durable and expensive materials, to commemorate a depth of love grown over time. After some time with your current ring, you might do the same.

But the main takeaway from this history lesson is that anything infused with enough love and intention can become precious, even a piece of string. So try to look at the ring your beau gave you not as a piece of jewelry but as a symbol, with value that can be appraised only in your heart. It sounds as if he makes you feel cherished with his daily words and actions, and that's more important.

DEAR ANNIE: What do you make of a mother who sends her grown vegetarian daughter a gift containing meat products every year for Christmas? — VEGETARIAN DAUGHTER

DEAR VEGETARIAN DAUGHTER: Good grief. It would be kinder of her to send coal. Assuming she knows you're vegetarian, her behavior is inconsiderate at best and passive-aggressive at worst. Tell her that if she'd like to give you a gift next year, she should make a donation to a charity you support. If she still sends you meat, refuse the package or see whether there's a meal center, an animal shelter or even just a neighbor willing to take it off your hands.

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