If You Give Me That, I’ll Pitch It In the Trash

by admin on December 8, 2011

My in-laws prefer to receive lists of exactly what the recipient wants for gift-giving occasions such as birthdays and Christmas. My BIL and SIL have been married for ten years, and she has always before provided a wish list when asked for Christmas.

This year, my MIL (who is a very sweet lady and wouldn’t hurt a fly) asked SIL for a wish list in November. She told SIL that because they (my parents-in-law) were now on a fixed income, they needed extra time to budget gift-buying.

Apparently, my SIL took umbrage to being asked for a wish list in November, because she told MIL several stores at which SIL would like a gift card. She said that she refused to “even think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving.”

MIL, who preferred to buy actual gifts rather than gift cards (thinking, like me, that gift cards are a bit of a cop-out), asked if SIL had any actual things that she wanted to put on the list. MIL says that she told SIL, “If you don’t give me a list, I will buy what I think you’ll like, not what I know you’ll like.”  Not the most etiquettely-approved move on MIL’s part either, I grant you.

SIL responded with,  “That’s ok, my garbageman will take whatever I leave for him.”

So, this year, SIL will get to sit around the tree watching the rest of us open our gifts, while she holds a small stack of gift cards in her hand.   1222-10

Just as the gift giver has no rights to how his/her gift is disposed of after being given to the recipient,  people on the receiving end of gift giving have an obligation to not go announcing that any gifts they deem unsuitable will be “regifted” to the trashman.

{ 95 comments… read them below or add one }

David December 8, 2011 at 5:08 am

It was very thoughtful of the MIL to ask for a wish list early since she would need to budget a little more than before. People sometimes don’t realize that needs to be taken into account when they retire.

MIL’s remark about buying SIL what she thinks she would like wasn’t rude in my opinion. It was a statement of fact that MIL wouldn’t know exactly what SIL wanted this year but would have to glean a gift idea from wish lists past or her reading of SIL’s character.

SIL was very rude to mention throwing away a gift to the giver.

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girl_with_all_the_yarn December 8, 2011 at 5:21 am

Wow. Just wow. Honestly, the first time I did that when I was six (it’s burned into my brain by now) I got a tongue lashing from my mother that lasted me a lifetime. I was completely mortified when I realized that I’d just done something mean! I suddenly started equating myself to the mean bullies at school and now, even if I hate it and think it’s a stupid gift (last year a slightly… eccentric family member got me a porn novel. That really did wind up in the trash) I still say thank you and say “This will be so useful!” or something to the like.

If someone put the time and effort into picking out a gift for me, the thought still counts and I’m never going to discount that by saying it’s a crap gift. And in the case of the eccentric family member, well, he doesn’t always understand that the connections he makes in his brain might not apply to the real world. It’s enough that I love him, he’s family, and he tries hard.

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Ellie December 8, 2011 at 7:18 am

If she were my DIL, she would have been sitting watching everyone else open gifts, while she opened a card wishing her a Happy Holiday. Not much point in gift giving with that SIL, IMHO.

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josie December 8, 2011 at 7:26 am

While I applaud SIL for choosing to celebrate Thanksgiving before Christmas, its not all that difficult to put items on a wish list. I bet these family get togethers are fun…or not. The garbageman comment was just cruel. MIL should politely ask for a list (and she can ask whenever she wants…before Thanksgiving even!) and then just put back the amount of money that she has budgeted for SIL. Then they can shop for SIL whenever she gets around to thinking about Christmas. I’m sure that there are enough other family members to shop for that what to get SIL won’t consume their every moment.

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QueenofAllThings December 8, 2011 at 8:15 am

I always start my shopping early (as I hate the rush and crowds) as does my mother and my mother-in-law. My kids think we’re nuts. I don’t think MIL was rude to say “I’ll buy what I THINK you’d like” because isn’t that what we all do?

SIL, on the other hand, was terrifically rude and BECAUSE she was rude, got exactly what she wanted – gift cards. That’s a shame.

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Kimstu December 8, 2011 at 8:28 am

Wow. Jolly Family of the Year awards all around on this one, as the seasonal spirit of shared celebration and generosity gets turned into ungracious bargaining tinged with partisan spitefulness on all sides.

I agree that it was rude of SIL to be so blunt about not wanting to think about Christmas lists in November and later to suggest that an unwanted gift would be thrown away, but I also think it was rude of MIL to push for additional gift suggestions (with the implication that gift cards aren’t good enough) after SIL had already made the gift-card request. (And LW isn’t looking that great either with her rather snide “well-won’t-she-be-sorry-then” disparagement of her SIL’s expressed preference for gift cards rather than having to draw up her Christmas wish list in November.)

It seems to me that if you want to put some thought and creative effort into selecting a present for somebody (within your gift-giving budget), then you should do so. It’s up to you to try to make the best choice you can to please them, and it’s up to them to react with appreciation and gratitude and refrain from expressing any dissatisfaction they may feel with your choice.

But if you just want to be told what to buy them, then you should take their word for it when they tell you what they’d like to have. As far as that goes, I don’t see how giving gift cards is really any more of a “cop-out” than giving presents specifically pre-ordered by the recipient via a wish list. Both seem like perfectly reasonable and convenient solutions for people who want to take the uncertainty (along with, alas, a good deal of the charm) out of the traditional present exchange process.

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Tirial December 8, 2011 at 9:03 am

Reading it, I do wonder if there was a history of friction between SIL and MIL. It seems like there was fault on both sides.

MIL asked for a wishlist and was given one: giftcards to stores X,Y or Z. To then state that the wishlist isn’t what she wanted to buy seems rather rude, and dismissive of the requester. For SIL to say outright she would junk a gift is extremely rude.

It just a shame that rudeness is being rewarded. Personally I’d be sticking to exchanging cards from here on.

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Piratelvr1121 December 8, 2011 at 9:10 am

Heck my grandmother used to shop in August and would ask me then what I’d like for Christmas. When I was quite young I couldn’t understand why she did that, but as I got older I understood! It’s just so much easier!

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Edhla December 8, 2011 at 9:36 am

Wow, that remark from SIL is jawdroppingly rude.

That being said, if someone asks me what I want for Christmas, I don’t want to be contradicted. It’s one thing to say “I can’t buy you a yacht because I can’t afford one” or “I can’t buy you x book or y DVD because I can’t find them” or whatnot; that’s perfectly normal and reasonable. But it’s quite another to ask someone what they want, get a reasonable answer, and then refuse to accomodate what they want because it’s not what YOU would want for Christmas. Isn’t that the point of gift-giving, giving someone what they would like? If SIL wanted gift cards, I think it was fair enough for her to say so. Giving is about the person you’re giving to.

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Zhoen December 8, 2011 at 9:39 am

Time for this family to institute a No Gifts Christmas rule, since no one seems to get the idea. Badgering anyone for a gift idea, when they have been offered the easy out of a gift card is nowhere near as bad as being told that what they give will be trashed, but no one here is being gracious. If you don’t want to give someone what they say because it’s “too cold,” then what do you expect? If someone is on a fixed income, the only appropriate response is, “I really don’t need anything but your company.”

Give each other token gifts, as my husband and I did for many years when we had nothing to spare. We still have a few of the glow-in-the-dark spinning tops. Give to charity, and recipient gets a card saying so. There are a lot of ways to be generous and kind here, and no one seems to be doing that.

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SHOEGAL December 8, 2011 at 9:42 am

That was terribly rude of the SIL. If I were her MIL – I’d give her absolutely nothing with the explanation that I didn’t want to throw money away.

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Leah December 8, 2011 at 9:50 am

The SIL was rude, of course. There’s no disagreeing with that.

But I hate it when people demand gift lists. Now that I’m an adult with a job, if I want something specific, I’ll go buy it for myself. Thinking up gifts for others to buy me often feels like a chore, and honestly it takes all the fun out of unwrapping the gift. How is a present less of a “cop-out” than a gift card when the gift-giver requires the gift-receiver to pick out the exact item?

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Chocobo December 8, 2011 at 10:01 am

Ellie — I think that would be a terrible idea. Retaliating against and alienating a daughter- or son-in-law, no matter how much you disapprove of them, is the fast track for never seeing one’s child again. It’s an extremely short-sighted plan that only leads to disaster. Better to grit one’s teeth and kill them with kindness, as they say. Isn’t that the most gracious thing to do, anyway?

In any case, SIL in this story is the daughter of the MIL, not the daughter-in-law. Whatever the relation, SIL was rude and I think for the sake of family harmony MIL took the best course of action and simply threw up her hands. As the OP intimates, SIL eventually gets her just deserts when she opens boring gift cards on Christmas while others’ receive the joy of opening actual items. Others may feel that SIL “won”, but for me, it’s a satisfying ending to the story. MIL chose to be gracious and SIL has no one to blame but herself.

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Ele December 8, 2011 at 10:15 am

Ellie — I completely agree. If the other person is going to throw away a gift from me, then they’ll get a card at best.

And how much more awful that is to say to someone on reduced finances!

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Dorothy December 8, 2011 at 10:29 am

Frankly, I think SIL needs to go without this year. Or, better yet, make a donation to charity in her name instead.

How about buying pigs for an African family??

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Kitty Lizard December 8, 2011 at 10:32 am

What a cruel and hurtful thing to say to a nice person. I had the miserable task of shopping for my
vicious MIL and SILs. The final year, I got a 3 page, single-spaced, typewritten letter of complaint
about their gifts – gifts into which I had put a great deal of thought and effort. I had had enough.
These were, as I had been told repeatedly, not my family. I told my husband, that if he wanted to
gift his family with Christmas and birthday presents, he would have to do it himself. He would have
to make the trek to Key West, (a 2 hour round trip) shop for presents, wrap them, post them, and
field the written, vitriolic complaints. His family did not get a single Christmas or birthday present
for the next ten years. Oh, the complaints. Where were the presents??? The first year, when I
answered the phone, I simply passed it to him, with previously laid down caveat that he did not
dare pass the blame to me, and nearly died laughing watching him try to explain why nothing
had materialized on their respective doorsteps with a Christmas bow attached. He finally had to
“fess up that, in fact, the nasty Christmas notes had had their intended effect and that I had simply
abdicated my role as family shopper. There were insincere apologies, but I refused to reacquire
my role. They were, as they insisted, HIS family, and HIS cross to bear. (In 42 years, his mother
never once acknowledged my birthday.) He assumed the role, but very grudgingly.
Kitty

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Wink-n-Smile December 8, 2011 at 10:41 am

I think if I had been that MIL, as soon as the SIL said that about the garbage man, I would have responded sharply that she could do without. Gifts are NOT an obligation, and if she’s so ungrateful, then she shouldn’t get one.

Furthermore, I’m sure that there are plenty of people who would appreciate a gift that MIL THINKS SIL would like. If she guesses wrong, at least she tried hard, and likely, someone at Goodwill or Salvation Army would think it’s great!

If you don’t like a gift, you thank the person graciously, and then donate it to charity, or regift it to someone else who will appreciate it. Throwing it away is wasteful and ungrateful.

And really, don’t we have enough waste in our landfills, already?

While I understand not wanting to think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, couldn’t she give her a general idea? “I like CDs, so please budget for one or two of those. After Thanksgiving, I can give you more specifics, then.”

Alternately, if you know someone is on a fixed income and money is tight, you can request time. “I have a boardgame I love to play, but rarely have anyone willing to play it with me. How about we arrange a game night, and that can be your gift to me?” No waste, there, and no money to budget, either.

No, I wouldn’t have given her the gift cards. If she wants to buy something herself, she should just buy it herself.

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Kai December 8, 2011 at 10:46 am

My older brother refused to give me any sort of clue as to what he wanted for Christmas this year. Other family members were happy to give a few suggestions, but not him. When I asked him at Thanksgiving (I only see him rarely since he does not “do” email and I cannot call him) he said “I don’t want anything.” I asked him, “What about K and R?” (his girlfriend and her daughter, who he has been living with for more than a year now and we’ve given gifts to before). He just shrugged. I mean, I understand HIM not caring/wanting presents, but to speak for his girlfriend and 6 y/o kid, who almost certainly WOULD like to get a present?

I settled for a cute stuffed animal for the girl and a $20 gift card for the adults. I don’t like the idea of a child who really isn’t old enough to understand “J didn’t tell the rest of the family what you wanted for Christmas so we didn’t get you anything.”

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essie December 8, 2011 at 10:49 am

LOL!! The SIL “refused to even think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving.”

That gives her about a month (more or less) to plan, save, shop, decorate, organize, etc. for Christmas. I’m just wondering (tongue firmly planted in cheek) how long it took her to plan, save, shop, decorate, organize, etc. for her wedding!

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Wink-n-Smile December 8, 2011 at 10:49 am

People fail to realize that if you’re on a strict budget, you buy items when they’re on sale. That means, in many cases, before Thanksgiving. Those Black Friday sales aren’t always as good as they appear, but there are some real bargains before Thanksgiving. In fact, sometimes, I find the perfect item in the summer, and save it until Christmas.

Of course, a wishlist is just that – a wish list. It doesn’t mean that’s what you’re going to get. It cannot be used as a registry. It’s just suggestions, and people are free to purchase off the list. That’s why you need to be gracious and grateful, no matter what they give you.

As for the previous poster’s gift of a porn novel, I’m so glad you thanked the relative graciously, and realized he didn’t mean any harm. There again, perhaps someone else would love it. Not necessarily a good donation for Salvation Army, but you never know who might like it. If nothing else, give it to someone with a fireplace, to use for kindling. Then you really CAN say, “This will be very useful.”

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Raven December 8, 2011 at 11:03 am

SIL should be ashamed of herself. A MIL whose only crime is trying too hard to buy a great present? The horror of it all! The garbageman comment was way, way out of line.

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AS December 8, 2011 at 11:11 am

I might be an odd ball here. It seems that your SIL (who I am assuming is your MIL’s daughter) said that because she was irritated. Not the right thing to say, of course, but it is not always possible to come up with gift that early on. And when we are irritated with loved ones, we tend to say things we don’t mean, and regret later. Does the OP know for sure that SIL is not regretting her foot in mouth?

If the SIL meant what she said, then I’ll cast her to e-hell for several eons.

I personally don’t see anything wrong with gift cards, and I often prefer gift cards to actual gifts. It is not always easy to come up with what we want. I have never been able to come up with what I want (except when I was in high school, and wanted a wrist watch for my Birthday, and told my parents so when they asked me). If SIL is fine with getting just gift cards when everyone else is opening gifts, then IMHO, it is totally her call and the family members should not feel bad about it.

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Marjorie Margarine December 8, 2011 at 11:13 am

Does anyone else just think it’s kind of gauche to ask for gift cards? I feel like it’s asking for money, and I agree, OP, I hate giving them and will not do it. I don’t want someone to know exactly how much I spent on them, and I dislike that the gift is in no way personal. My DH’s family does the Christmas list thing, and honestly, with some of them, I feel like they just gave me a shopping list because what they want is so specific. I mean, as the giver, I enjoy picking out something special and unique I think the person will like and will remind them of me when they use it or see it. My MIL puts things on her wish list like “white waffle-weave kitchen towels, 6 pack.” Really? I feel like I’m just running an errand.

I try to list things that might give the giver an idea of what type of thing I would like, but gives them an amount of discretion, as well, in both price and style. The things that I have gotten that were chosen especially for me because they were something someone saw and thought of me are some of my most cherished possessions. It speaks volumes about what people think of you when they give you something they chose, and it represents something more meaningful to me than just doing someone’s shopping for them.

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Serenity S. December 8, 2011 at 11:23 am

I think SIL was rude. You shouldn’t say you will throw someone’s gift in the garbage. Very rude. I was always taught that you should pretend you like someone’s gift even if you don’t so that you don’t hurt their feelings. And that it is rude to say you don’t like it. MIL was a bit snarky too though, but that doesn’t excuse SIL.

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Jojo December 8, 2011 at 11:26 am

Woah. SIL would be getting a gift card to the value of $1 from me. If that. In fact, I think the most appropriate gift I can can think of for her is festive trash bags ( a number of retail outlets sell Christmas pudding ones here in the UK). A useful gift that she’ll love leaving out for the trash collectors ;-)

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Cammie December 8, 2011 at 11:31 am

This is garbage in:garbage out.

1) It’s not SIL fault that her MIL can’t budget her time/money properly. What’s the saying? A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine? Was her MIL surprised by her retirement? It sounds like MIL changed the rules part way into the game. What difference does it make when she gets a list? Is MIL going to try to buy SIL a car if that’s what she asks for?

2) SIL, when pressed, gave MIL a “wish list” of gift cards, but that’s not good enough for MIL! She wants to give something else! So, let’s put-down the wish list MIL demanded and get all snarky about it. Which brings me to;

3) MIL then proceeds to threaten SIL. Charming. I think I’d lose my temper a little after that.

This just sounds like someone trying to start a fight.

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DGS December 8, 2011 at 11:35 am

SIL was terrifically rude, and I don’t think that MIL was rude at all, like PP’s. I am wondering, though, if there’s a separate issue of tension related to something else between MIL and SIL to elicit the rude comment from SIL…

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Rhonda December 8, 2011 at 11:38 am

After a comment like that, I would have given her exactly nothing.

“I’m on a fixed limited budget and prefer to give gifts that the recipient will appreciate.”

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Magicdomino December 8, 2011 at 11:39 am

I do my Christmas shopping early, usually at October craft shows. Sometimes very early if I go overseas on vacation (Next year, it’s Ireland in the spring. Get your orders in now. :-) ). While I appreciate waiting until December to think about Christmas, that’s when I’m wrapping and decorating. Also, some people like to shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, again, before December.

One should never, ever tell someone that their present will come to a bad end. One may apologetically ask if there is a receipt because the gift is the wrong size, but even then one should graciously accept if the item isn’t returnable.

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Cat December 8, 2011 at 11:45 am

I’d give the garbage man the gift card and save SIL the trouble. To avoid this sort of thing, I give food. “Here’s your pecan pie, Happy Holidays!”

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WildIrishRose December 8, 2011 at 11:49 am

If that were my DIL, she’d be lucky to get anything at all. At least she wouldn’t have to waste energy throwing my gift away.

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LovleAnjel December 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Wow, that’s all sorts of wrong.

Instead of saying she absolutely refuses to event think about Christmas before Thanksgiving (which sounds very holier-than-thou), how about, “I’ll get it to you as soon as I can. It might take awhile.” Still truthful, not hurtful.

Then mom can say, “I might have to do my shopping earlier than normal this year. I’ll try to wait for your list.” Also truthful.

The line about the garbageman was absolutely unnecessary and very rude. If someone said that to me, I’d be tempted to give them a box of garbage bags for Christmas.

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Kat December 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I’m with Ellie. I wouldn’t get her any gift cards.

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Anastasia December 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm

What a nasty, mean-spirited comment for SIL to make.

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Xtina December 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm

This hits home for me. My in-laws are not this rude, but they are extremely picky and hard to buy for at times. I’ve been raised thinking that when someone gives you a gift, you thank them and remember the gesture behind the gift–and if you don’t like the gift, then re-gift it or at the very least, use it a few times in the giver’s presence; the idea being you would never be so crass as to tell someone that you didn’t appreciate their gift that they took of their time and money to select for you.

Gifts are funny. They are gifts and the receiver does not get to dictate and complain about what someone else gives them. However, as a giver, I would rather know if something I gave didn’t suit the recipient so I wouldn’t make the same mistake again, or could possibly make a switch for a more suitable gift.

Along that line of thought, my in-laws are not shy at all, upon opening an unwanted gift, about asking, “Why did you buy this?” or, “I don’t have any use for this”, or telling you that they’d like you to return it to the store for some other item. Certainly there is a happy medium between this and effectively communicating that this may not be the best choice for them that isn’t going to rub the giver the wrong way or seem unappreciative. E-hell Dame, does such a conversation exist?

As for the SIL in this story, there was absolutely no call to answer so rudely. If I were MIL, I’d be very tempted to give SIL a card for Christmas. Inside, there would be a note telling her that I’d given a sizeable tip to her garbage man in her name.

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Hemi Halliwell December 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Like @QueenofAllThings, I do my shopping early because I hate the rush and crowds. So if I were the MIL and SIL made a cruel garbage man comment, she would get nothing; not a card, not a gift card, absolutely nothing. And if something was mentioned about the absence of a gift, I would reply that I gave it to garbage man since that was where it was going to end up anyway. I know that would cause me to be cast into the fires of E-hell but I cannot stand bratty people like SIL. Her MIL needs extra budgeting time because of limited income but SIL can’t take 5 minutes to jot down a few ideas.
I have to wonder what SIL will be like when she has to survive on a fixed income.

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Mippa December 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Honestly, I don’t understand why people hate on gift cards all that much. Some people’s favorite thing to do is shopping, dining, etc. I personally am of the type that would much rather gift an “experience” than a material item.

But that’s just me, I guess. Honestly, I don’t have space in my small apartment for material goods, but if people still insist on getting me something, I’d much rather have something like “gift card for a movie” or “gift card for a nice restaurant” than something that’ll just end up collecting dust.

As a gift- giver, when you’re asking for what people want, is it really fair to judge them for their preferences? Why bother asking, then?

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Cat whisperer December 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Ah, nothing says “Christmas” like the exchange of threats about what you’re going to give/get, and what people can do with what they’re going to give/get.

Folks, the stuff that you give and get just plain isn’t that important in the greater scheme of things. It’s just STUFF. It’s the PEOPLE in our lives that are the important thing.

This whole business of gift-giving, and please recognize that all the hooplah built around giving and getting at Christmas is a BUSINESS, is just not important enough to break down relationships or to cause fights that lead to estrangement. For that matter, the idea that all the year’s generosity and showing people how much we love them by giving them presents has to be crammed into a narrow period of time is artificial. You can give people you love presents any day of the year, for any reason or for no reason at all.

In this particular situation, my prescription for OP, her MIL and SIL would be eggnog for three. Or hot chocolate, or appletinis, or gin, or nice hot tea, or fancy coffee, whatever beverage that when ingested slowly and with enjoyment mellows them all out. Savor it slowly, allow its warmth to seep through to their hearts.

Then, imagine for a moment what your feelings would be if you got word that one of the other people was gone, dead, just like that– in the snap of your fingers. Because that can happen. Imagine what your feelings would be about these people if you, or they, went to the doctor because of an annoying cough that persisted, or a sore throat, or a lump you found, and suddenly the word “cancer” is a part of your world.

Would any of the gift issues you’re fighting about now mean anything at all in any of those scenarios? Gift cards, presents, whether you gave someone a list, when they did their shopping, whatever: in the end, aren’t whatever regrets you have going to be about how you treated each other, and not about STUFF you give and get?

It’s hard, with all the pressures of the season and especially with the TV and other media all yelling at us 24/7 about shopping, buying, giving, getting, to remember that festive occasions of any kind are all about people, not about STUFF. But after you’ve suffered the loss of a few loved people in your life and every holiday reminds you that they’re gone, after you’ve dealt with a few too many issues that involve hospitals, and doctors, and the words “we’re doing the best we can,” spoken by serious-faced people in the medical profession, you’ll have an easier time remembering that holidays are about people, not gifts.

I have to laugh at these kinds of “tiffs in a teacup” that have people quivering with rage and indignation over STUFF, because it really is laughable when you think of the larger issues of life.

Apologies all around, people, and remember that it’s people, not STUFF that matters.

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Stace December 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm

One five dollar gift card to Tiffany’s, coming right up.

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Avisse December 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Ugh, if it was me, I wouldn’t bother to give her anything, but maybe just a holiday greeting card. After all, I’m not obligated to give gifts to rude, demanding people. Christmas may be the season of generosity, but it doesn’t mean giving in to the self-entitled ones. I’m happier cutting off the rude ones and having a little extra more to spend on the deserving ones.

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CaffeineKatie December 8, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I do agree the SIL was rude, but include me on the list of people who are sick and tired of wish lists for Christmas, esp. when (like my mother) people start pestering you for ideas in the summer! Most of us have jobs and can buy our own things; for me, the end came when my mom said, “Just buy what’s on your list and wrap them with my name on them, and I’ll send you the money.” I would rather have nothing to open on Christmas and sit and relax with my family and enjoy the day. Maybe the SIL feels the same way?

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NotCinderell December 8, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I bow to the Queen in comment 5 and say that I always buy what I think people would like (I like surprising people so I don’t even do wishlists), so it’s certainly not a rude sentiment. Of course, when you buy what you think someone might like instead of what you know definitively they will like, there’s always the chance they will end up not liking the gift.

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Haruspex December 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm

It seems now that gift giving is to civility what campaign contributions are to government. Let’s dispense with both and just grow up.

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ferretrick December 8, 2011 at 1:55 pm
Laura December 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Geez…so much for the “spirit of the season!”

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BH December 8, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Just the title reminde me of a story from last Christmas within my own family. I’ve always been a Barbie girl (even now at 32) My first niece was born last year, my brother told me if I bought a Barbie doll for his daughter, his wife will throw it away! (Her opinion on Barbie obviously differs from mine)

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Cady December 8, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I wouldn’t give her anything after the garbageman comment, but that’s just me.

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Cobbs December 8, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I have lived many years reading and hearing about hard feelings and worse caused by the idea one “must” give/get at gift for a specific occasion. Please consider the idea of charity instead. Let people know you give gifts to a charity in honor of a birthday or Christmas well before the date. If someone objects, explain. If they become angry realize your previous gifts were not really appreciated.

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Angeldrac December 8, 2011 at 3:05 pm

My family and I have always written Christmas lists, since we were little and our (somewhat absent) grandmother would phone my mother in early December and ask my mother what was on our lists.
Now (though we age from 30 to 22) we do them still, which I find great as I am an appalling gift buyer. Now, being adults, we are more organised, too, and tend to start making lists of things we like but can’t/shouldn’t buy ourselves much earlier in the year (you can, then, look at it in December and decide if you really really need that pink, diamanté keyboard or if it was a passing fancy).
Having said that, it’s not very hard to bang out a quick list of things you’d like. SIL was very rude – I hope she gets coal.

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Elle December 8, 2011 at 3:06 pm

MIl asked what SIL wanted for Christmas and SIL answered with “gift cards.” I wasn’t there so I can’t speak to the SILs tone, but I could see it being either a snotty answer or a “check back later” answer.

Of course the conversation went downhill from there on both their parts.

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