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In my writing I'm looking for an alternative way to say that something is a "mixed blessing". The word "blessing" seems to carry a religious connotation.

I'm seeking to convey to the reader that a specific thing that has happened has both positives and negatives for this character.

"Getting invited to the party was a mixed blessing for Charlie. Sure, he was hoping to be invited, but this now meant that he was expected to bring a gift for a person who is impossible to shop for."

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    Many phrases whose original, literal meanings have religious aspects have been so frequently used for purposes entirely unrelated to religion, that they are not any more 'heard' as carrying any religious implications. For example, few people who see OMG in somebody's text message are likely to think that the sender has, by that phrase, implied adherence to some religious outlook on the word. Mixed blessing is another such phrase. – jsw29 Jan 28 at 4:57
  • wasn’t without its drawbacks. – Jim Jan 28 at 4:58
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I don't think that most people would think of it as more than just a regular saying, but if you really do want to avoid the word blessing, there are a few other expressions you might use. Some would require rephrasing your passage.

  • was of mixed utility / sent mixed messages
  • had its pros and cons
  • was good news and bad news
  • was a double-edged sword (This might connote violence.)
  • was bittersweet (This might not be used in all the same contexts.)

In terms of the thinking of a person, you could also say that they were of two minds.

  • I really like some of these. Especially bittersweet and double-edged sword. – Kristi Jan 28 at 16:38
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Depending on your audience, you could say that the invitation was something of a silver lining for Charlie.

This expression invokes the proverb “Every cloud has a silver lining”, but it suggests that the bad (the cloud) is bigger than the good (the silver lining). It also suggests that the whole story is not being told, but that the intelligent reader can infer it from their broader knowledge.

A corresponding proverb is “Every rose has its thorn”, although possibly not so well known.

The best choice really depends on the tone you want to strike in your description of Charlie.

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