The Someday Gifts

by admin on August 15, 2012

My husband and I got married about 5 months ago and were engaged prior to that for about 2 months. I was thrown a small bridal shower when we were engaged and my future mother-in-law told me that she had a wrapping paper station for me, but that she didn’t want to bring it to the shower as it was large, she would give it to me at another time. It’s been half a year and I haven’t heard a thing about that gift since then. Around the time my husband and I got married (5 months ago), she told him that our wedding gift from her was going to be a new vacuum cleaner, and I haven’t heard anything about that since then, either. I know his mother is notorious for saying she is going to gift you with something, and won’t give it to you for years, if ever. How should I broach this subject? I don’t need either gift, but it leaves this cloud over me of feeling like we have “unfinished business.” Is it rude to bring it up and ask about it? Thanks! 0814-12

I suggest two courses of action.   First,accept the fact that your mother-in-law likes to engage in wishful gifting and appears to rarely, if ever, follow through on her stated desires.   You will be happier if you do not allow any expectation to creep into your heart and just dismiss her verbal gifts as unsubstantial as bubbles drifting on the wind.

Second, just drop it.   Say nothing to her.  It’s not as if you are owed these items and pursuing your MIL to inquire about them will drag you down and probably never result in the earlier offered gifts actually appearing.

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate August 15, 2012 at 7:03 am

I agree with the advice of the admin. If you bring up the subject with your mother in law, no matter how carefully, realistically she isn’t going to change a life-long habit and mindset. She’ll either be unaffected or, more likely, offended. Either way, no good will come of it.

Clouds hanging over heads aren’t fun. It’s best to do what you can to get yourself used to thinking that whatever gifts she promises will never appear, and if they ever do several years later, treat it as a nice surprise. No use putting off buying something because you’re waiting on her. Be practical.

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lkb August 15, 2012 at 7:29 am

Perhaps the OP should mention it to her husband (best wishes on the new marriage by the way!) and follow his lead. After all, the vacuum cleaner gift was mentioned to him.

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ferretrick August 15, 2012 at 7:36 am

Agree with Admin, don’t bring it up, and when she does this in future, which she will, just smile and say “that sounds lovely” or some such while internally rolling your eyes knowing you will probably never see the actual gift. But there’s no “unfinished business” here-your MIL makes promises she can’t/won’t keep. That’s really all there is to it. And, while this would annoy me as well, if it’s the worst MIL complaint you have, you aren’t doing too bad.

You can also always amuse yourself picturing-if she has acutally bought the items, someday you may clean out a house with a huge treasure trove of gifts that were purchased and never actually sent to the intended recipient.

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jena rogers August 15, 2012 at 7:57 am

I can see how someone expressing their intentions without following through can be really annoying. It’s one of my pet peeves. I had to train myself with people like that to simply not believe or take seriously pretty much anything they say. (I divorced one such person). Of course, they don’t garner any respect from me either, though I can behave as politely as the next person. However, I’d be tempted to call out a person on this kind of behavior after awhile, particularly if I must associate with them on a regular basis. The next time a promise is expressed, my response might be, “You know, I’ve heard you say this before. I appreciate the thought and wonder if you can tell me when that gift might be arriving. We were thinking of purchasing one ourselves, but will certainly hold off if you can give us a time frame.” And I would not mention it further until the time passes. Should it pass without the promised gift, I would send a polite note, “I wanted to just let you know that we have purchased the vacuum cleaner you discussed gifting us. We hope that you have not made any unnecessary purchases.” I know this seems snarky; OTOH, this might actually give her a wake-up call regarding her behavior. Ultimately, I am sure this depends on the people involved and your own insights and comfort level with the situation. ‘Best of luck!

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tangerine August 15, 2012 at 8:10 am

I have a few people like this in my life. Just pretend they never said anything at all.
I do have a question, though. What do you do when they get offended that you purchased the item that they said they were going to give you?
This has happened to me several times. I’ll mention I need a new X, they say they will get me one, it fails to appear, and I get it myself (like I intended to do in the first place). Then when they see the new X, they get very upset, “I was going to buy you an X!”

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PM August 15, 2012 at 8:16 am

A while back we had a poster on the forum whose husband would make big promises for her birthday and then somehow, those plans would never work out. Promised Christmas gifts never materialized. His promise that they would go out on the town on New Year’s Eve? Nope. She’d be left sitting alone in their house on her birthday, Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve, while her husband was napping because he was “so tired” from working all week. That seemed to be his excuse for everything. He was so worn out from his work week that he never followed-through on his plans. He couldn’t shop, couldn’t call in dinner reservations or go to the dinner reservations she made, couldn’t help her cook holiday meals, because he was “too tired.”

Basically, he wanted credit for “thinking” of something to do for her, but was mystified that she got upset when those plans never made it to fruition. After all, he had good intentions, and doesn’t that count for something? To me, no. I would find it more hurtful for someone to say, “I thought of the perfect gift for you for your birthday, but I didn’t get it.” That basically says that they didn’t consider me or my feelings important enough to make the effort to get into the car and drive to the store. I would rather they say, “Happy birthday.” and leave it at that.

It sounds like your mother-in-law is giving you lip service because she doesn’t want to appear to be a cheapskate or thoughtless, but when it comes time to actually get you something, it’s not important enough for her to follow through. I would just ignore her promises. They’re nothing but hot air.

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Spuck August 15, 2012 at 8:37 am

I would drop it for now, but a discussion will need to happen if grandchildren are ever involved. It is one thing to promise an adult something, but rescinding on gifts promised to children is a whole other can of worms that leaves everyone disappointed.

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Katie August 15, 2012 at 8:40 am

I don’t see any way of mentioning this without casusing some level of upset. If you value your relationship with your MIL (and it doesn’t seem bad, from what you’ve said) then I would just try to take it for what it’s (probably) intended: a kind thought that is unlikely to come to anything.

I can see why this might be annoying, but if you mention this, it might upset her and, worse still, make things awkward for you/your husband in future.

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AS August 15, 2012 at 8:43 am

Agree with admin’s advice.
I’ll add one thing to it – if you plan to purchase a vacuum cleaner, and you are afraid that MIL might suddenly show up with another vacuum cleaner in a few months, you could just tell her in conversation that you plan to purchase one. If she says once again that she wants to buy you one, maybe you can wait a while and see if she does or not. If not, it is time for your husband to talk his mother and explain that both of you appreciate that Mom/MIL plans to gift you a vacuum cleaner. You don’t want to turn down her generous gift, or end up with two vacuum cleaners, but you really need one soon so that the house does not start turning into a pig sty.

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Just Laura August 15, 2012 at 8:47 am

I understand the frustration of the OP. What if, in the future, OP has children? Will she have to keep explaining to the children why Grandma makes promises and doesn’t keep them? I guess that would be a good lesson about the real world for them, but still…

I also agree with admin completely.

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PhDeath August 15, 2012 at 8:49 am

I agree with all the other agreements! :)

I too, had a “wishful gifter” in my past (great turn of phrase!). The most annoying part was that she got truly offended on the two occasions that the things she promised me were necessary items for my household, which I purchased myself after a reasonable period (i.e., “I TOLD you I was giving you an iron – why did you go out and buy one?!?”…two months after the fact).

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Lisa Marie August 15, 2012 at 8:52 am

How about this one. My daughter’s future mother in law offered to pay for the photographer at their wedding. Then two days before the ceremony, daughter came to us crying saying it wasn’t going to happen and we got to pay for that too. Grooms monetary contribution to the wedding was zip but they provided plenty of hungry freeloaders at the reception. I don’t know how my son in law grew up with them and came to be the fine person he is.

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marjoriemargarine August 15, 2012 at 9:07 am

I agree- I would probably drop it. But I can see how you might feel a little miffed/unwelcomed by not getting a wedding present from your own MIL. Of course, no gift is ever supposed to be “expected” but I think all of us would feel the same way- it’s not WHAT the gift is, or how much it cost, it’s just that it’s a traditional symbol of affection and approval.

I think there is a polite way you CAN bring it up, but the key is to be offhanded about it. “Oh, MIL, I was meaning to tell you- my friend Suzy is getting married in a few months and I was thinking about what I’d like to get her. A gift wrapping station is so unique and it was such a great idea for you to come up with for my shower- I’d love to get her one. Any suggestions on where to get it? I can’t wait to use mine- we’ve got to figure out a good time for me to come pick it up!”

I might even send out a thank you card in advance for the vacuum. There is totally a way to do this that is non-tacky, the key is to sound like you KNOW she’s going to follow through, not that you’re trying to be a gimme-pig. “Dear MIL, I know this is kind of late, considering the wedding was 5 months ago, but I just wanted to thank you for what a help you’ve been. You’re a great MIL and I’m so glad to be in your family. Thank you so much for the kind and generous offer of buying us a vacuum. You must know how unpleasant it’s been having to mop my carpet! I can’t wait to go shopping together and pick one out! Much love, OP”

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Another Alice August 15, 2012 at 9:26 am

I agree with admin, and also Jena, because these are both items that, while not as necessary as food and shelter, one would make great use of or need in the future. If she promised something frivolous, then I’d let it go, but hey, you gotta have a vacuum cleaner. I think it’d be a good idea if you just say you’re going to get them at a relatively specific time like, “In the next week,” and see what she says. The reason I think this is because I see a lot of passive-aggression in the OPs future if she gets the items herself and MIL finds out. I can hear, “Oooh! (pouty face) Now, why did you go out and get that? I SAID I would get it for you! Now I FEEL bad!” And thus the cycle continues of it being all about her.

I have a lot less sympathy for the empty promises of gifts. I see it as a chance to be a martyr. I’m sure there are some innocent souls who simply are a bit absent-minded and forget, but for the most part, I think regardless of how this turns out, prepare yourself for it to be a bigger deal than necessary. After all, people don’t dangle gifts in front of others without delivering unless they want to be in control in some way, and getting the items yourself – regardless of whether you tell her about it beforehand or not – opens you up to a thousand different irritating comments. “Well, I DID want to get it for you, you know, but I just don’t have the money right now, but sure, okay, I understand you need it now, I just WISH I could have gotten it for you . . .” And then, as time passes and it happens over and over (which it will), “So-in-so never even waits for me to get her a gift. I guess she just would rather buy things herself, it makes me so sad, because I WANT to help . . .” Etc., etc. Blech.

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annelise13 August 15, 2012 at 9:33 am

I, too, agree with the admin’s advice. My MIL is exactly the same way – full of promises to help personally or with gifts, and seldom delivering. I wish I’d been given admin’s advice years ago, instead of having to figure it out over time after many disappointments.

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Stacey Frith-Smith August 15, 2012 at 9:34 am

These issues can cause hurt in families but avoiding them does nothing to resolve the problem. It’s not that OP wants the gifts- she wants the respect of being told the truth. At this stage in her marriage, the issue is small, but it will complicate family relationships if not addressed eventually. The least OP is entitled to do is to be honest. The next time a gift is offered, she can say “if you do that, it would be very generous, but we know sometimes that things don’t work out to make it possible to be so generous”. It’s honest, and oblique enough that it isn’t a rehash of the past “failure to communicate honestly” issues. This or a similar stock line will stand OP in good stead. She can state her truth without actually calling MIL on the carpet directly AND set up the expectation for her husband and children that MIL isn’t expected to produce what she promises….because she just doesn’t. IF MIL is so remiss as to take offense at the statement, OP and her spouse should fix her with a firm gaze in duo, and the other half of the couple should reiterate the statement verbatim. It’s not rude to tell the truth, especially for repetitive offenders against honesty. Anything less is enabling behavior that is extremely antisocial.

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Cat August 15, 2012 at 9:34 am

I have also been there, done that with someone who made promises that were never kept. I resolved it by saying, whenever something was promised, ” Absolutely not! I won’t hear of you giving me something like that/so expensive/that’s so much trouble for you! Don’t even think of it!”
That keeps me from thanking someone for something I shall never receive.It also prevents whatever perverse pleasure they get from making promises they don’t intend to keep.

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Lisa August 15, 2012 at 10:36 am

So, I’ve got a weird question here; is a thank you note still required? As in, “thank you for a most enjoyable shower, Hubs and I are looking forward to putting that wrapping station to good use”?

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Elizabeth August 15, 2012 at 10:38 am

To the people who get offended when you buy the gift the “intended” to buy you, I would just say:

“But you didn’t. How long can I live without an iron/vacuum cleaner/etc? This one cost $XX. Would you like to give me the cash instead? Then you will have bought it for me!”

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Michellep August 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Admin’s advice is spot-on, as usual. To the posters mentioning children, that’s a good question, but wouldn’t worry about a situation that hasn’t happened yet. Sounds like the OP has enough problems with the MIL without creating one.

@tangerine, your reply should be short and polite, “I remember you mentioning that you were going to buy me X, but since you seem to have not been able to, I found it necessary to purchase it myself.”

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June First August 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I’m kind of surprised by the responses here.
While the MIL shouldn’t be offering gifts and then not delivering, the OP isn’t “owed” anything. I can’t imagine telling a relative that they have X amount of time to turn over a gift, or else I would buy it myself.
Beforehand, I LOVE Cat’s response: “Absolutely not! I won’t hear of you giving me something like that/so expensive/that’s so much trouble for you! Don’t even think of it!”

Afterward, if they’re offended you bought something yourself, I think a blank look and then, “Oh, I forgot we talked about it!”

Pick your battles here, since there could be more when children are on the way. And when/if you do have children, this would be a great teachable moment.

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gramma dishes August 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I agree with previous posters who have said there are several ways that we as adults can handle this.

But should MIL start doing this same thing with your “someday” children, that’s a whole different story. Children should never be lied to and be left waiting expectantly for some promised gift that will never appear. There needs to be a plan in place to nip this in the bud. For that reason and that reason only I think the OP and her husband should let her know in the kindest, gentlest way possible that promising things that she has no real intention of actually implementing is offensive.

Tangible gifts aren’t really necessary and grandchildren won’t expect them if they aren’t told gifts are coming in the first place. Children usually just cherish the time they get to spend with loving, caring grandparents.

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Redneck Gravy August 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I agree with Admin – get used to this “fantasy gifting” and let it go. But also be prepared for it to continue and be prepared for what you intend to tell your children about this.

I had a sister, same “gonna give you fantasy gift” story. One was a toy thingy for newborns that played music and shone on the ceiling. She promised it as soon as I was pregnant with DD1 and then repeatedly prior to and even after her birth – five years later she delivered it for DD2. It was garage sale quality (at best) and never worked properly. I’m sure everyone has these type of people in their lives.

I told my kids from day one not to ever count on Aunt Sis delivering anything she promised. And they have not been surprised when promised stuff never turned up.

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Coralreef August 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm

OP, forget about the promised gifts, they will never grace your doorstep. The best you can do is say you’ll look forward to it. No thanks until you have it in your hands. This is a behaviour that will never go away, I know from experience. Get what you need/want for yourself and if MIL is offended, so be it. The “wishful gifter” can get offended as much as they want, they didn’t deliver, so not the OP’s problem if they get into a hissy fit.

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BethRD August 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm

My mom used to sort of do this. She would say that she couldn’t possibly buy me an X (jacket, pair of jeans, book, whatever) and pick out what I really wanted, I should just go buy it myself and then she would send me a check. Then I would do it, and she’d never send the check. I always felt really awkward about complaining, because even when it’s your own mom, it’s not like you’re OWED a birthday/holiday check, and I felt like I was money-grubbing. On the other hand, it wasn’t like it was my own idea to go buy a new jacket, it was hers, and sometimes I really needed the money. She would do it for presents for my kids too, tell me to go buy something and she’d pay me back, and then never pay me back. Occasionally I was able to find a way to bring it up that wasn’t completely mercenary, and other times I would just have to let it go.

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Shalamar August 15, 2012 at 4:46 pm

My MIL used to do something like this when our kids were small. She’d say “I had my hand on this adorable outfit, and I almost bought it, but I told myself ‘no’.”. I never knew what to say – thank you for the gift you didn’t buy us?

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claire kellock August 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Frankly, it’s bad manners. I am sure your M-I-L knows exactly what she is doing but without malice, has no intention of getting the gifts. I agree with most posts. What does your husband think and I think, in time, he is justified to say something. However, I would not recommend the OP to approach her M-I-L. These relationships can deteriorate it M-I-L feels defensive.

Wait a few months to see if it’s a permanent habit and then go ahead and get them yourself.

With sensitive relationships it is irrelevant who is right and who is wrong. Your M_I_L will feel offended if you broach the subject so there is absolutely no point in doing so. Agree with post about children but thats way into the future so you may well have a good idea of her long term habit.

Don’t approach MIL. She will likely feel offended or embarrassed and I don’t blame her. I am sure that I would feel embarrassed at her age.
Good luck

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Kimberly August 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Well, in reality, this is what I would like to do, but never would.

For MIL’s next birthday, Christmas or whatever, I think I would say, “Oh, we are going to get you a vacuum cleaner. But, then never give it to her”. If she says something, I would just say, “oh, I thought that is how you did gifts. Told someone you were giving a gift and then never followed thru. Remember my shower and wedding gifts?

Have you asked your dh if his mother has always been like this? Is this something new? Maybe she would like to get you a gift, but really cannot afford to do so, but she does not want to let anyone know this fact, so she says she has a gift, but hopes that you will forget she ever said that.

I would not say anything, just consider it one of her quirks.

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Roslyn August 15, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Gosh, my husband’s family does this, I haven’t noticed so much with gifts (although his Mother thinks giving you a birthday gift 8 months after your birthday is just fine) but they do it with everything else. I can remember when we were dating and would visit the families house and the garbage was scattered through the kitchen because the brother “N” was supposed to take it out. Well, he SAID he would take it out, so everyone was waiting day after day, and just kept throwing the trash on the floor because he SAID he would take it out……..

My husband has this tendency, and I am fully aware of it and I call him out and remind him of his “promises” that he makes. I grew up with a Hypocrite of a Mother and so I do NOT say or promise anything unless I know I can do it in a reasonable amount of time, I’m a little nuts about that. He has NO problem saying he will fix the closet door this weekend. Well, that was 4 years ago, my daughter just props up the door and goes on with her life, I keep bringing it up to him and still nothing.

People like this function because they didn’t have a strict “If you say it you need to DO it” upbringing.

And yes, his family has done this with things involving my children and it’s horrid for me to have to deal with the fall out. They have learned the hard way to believe NOTHING until they see it.

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Shalamar August 15, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Roslyn, your husband’s family just scattered garbage everywhere? EWWW!

As far as the closet door is concerned, I’d hire a pro to fix it and damn the expense. Four years is too long to wait.

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David August 15, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I agree with Cat.

” Absolutely not! I won’t hear of you giving me something like that/so expensive/that’s so much trouble for you! Don’t even think of it!”

By saying this to the wishful gifter, you have accomplished a couple things – the wind is taken out of their sails and you aren’t subconsciously expecting the gift.

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mojo August 16, 2012 at 1:07 am

Don’t worry too much about the future children. My father was like this, making promises of gifts and excursions he just couldn’t or wouldn’t keep. Yes, at times I really got hurt, but now I see it was a useful lesson to learn.

The best you can do is talk to your children about your MIL’s behaviour. Explain that some people say very generous things, without really meaning it. After all, they will meet other people like this throughout their lives, and that experience will help.

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Kate August 16, 2012 at 6:42 am

I agree with PM’s thoughts – if this is a habit (which it definitely seems to be), then on some level, there is a chance that it is a form of manipulation/control/power/whatever. She might enjoy it to some small extent. Of course, she might just be clueless, but the chance that this is some sort of power trip might be worth considering, since if you ever have children in the future it could get nasty.
Cat’s advice is spot-on. Even for things she’s already ‘promised’, or things you’ve bought and she makes a fuss about. “Oh, no, I won’t hear any of it. I couldn’t possibly put you to that much trouble, besides, it’s the thought that counts! And what about all the work you put into [recent event which you are both vaguely associated with that she won’t mind taking credit for]?” etc. So you change the subject and she gets an ego trip – that way, even if it is at all malicious, she’s placated and the crisis is averted. If you have to, make it sound like she’s doing YOU a favour: “I just couldn’t bear it if you did that – thank-you so much for the offer, but I couldn’t live with myself if I knew I’d made you do that for me,” and other such melodramatics if needed.
I’d keep a few stock responses like this and just keep repeating them if she tries to change the subject back. Use them as soon as she ‘promises’ anything, too (a stitch in time saves nine). This way you aren’t being manipulated by her (if that’s what it is), and any possible children (and, let’s face it, YOU) aren’t left waiting to be disappointed. You do not want to be in the power of someone dishonest who thinks little of others, no matter how nice she might otherwise be. It’s just too stressful.
Again, though, there really is no way of broaching the subject without possibly upsetting her, and it’s not up to you to change the lifestyle of someone else (even if it’s a rude one). We can only choose what we ourselves do, so choose something that lessens your frustrations without upsetting your mother-in-law. Good luck and be strong!

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Molly August 16, 2012 at 10:00 am

Maybe you could phrase it like “We are planning to buy a new vacuum and we’re polling our friends and family about what brands work best. Do you have any recommendations?”

Then, if the mother-in-law protests that she was going to buy one, you could state that you need the vacuum within the week, because your carpets look really bad. At that point, you can just tell her “thanks so much, but don’t bother, because I need it so quickly and don’t want to inconvenience you.” If she still protests, you can set a specific date to shop together that week, which would (theoretically) be a fun outing for you. Alternatively, if she has already bought the vacuum, and has it at her house, you could arrange to pick it up/have it delivered.

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Kara August 16, 2012 at 10:12 am

I also have a “wishful giver” (love the phrase!) in my family.

My way of dealing with the fantasy gifts and empty promises was to simply stop getting her presents for gift giving occasions. I found that there was a lot less stress/resentment on my part if I no longer had to listen to her rhapsodize about the present that she “intended” to get me while handing over the present that I had gotten for her.

Once she asked my why I had given holiday presents to everyone in the family except for her… my response was “Well, you said that you were going to get me X, so when you have gotten X, just let me know and we can exchange presents then.” Not surprisingly, I never heard anything else about “present X” and she never contacted me about doing a later exchange….

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Annie August 16, 2012 at 10:40 am

I like your advice, Cat.

If it were me, I would just buy the vacuum cleaner for myself. If she was honest in her intentions of wanting to get you one, she’ll say, “Oh, I really wanted to get you a vacuum cleaner! Please let me reimburse you.” If instead she plays the martyr, well, you know what you’re up against.

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Emmy August 16, 2012 at 10:47 am

I agree that the OP should just mentally write off anything her MIL says about getting a gift. She is just blowing hot air and probably just wants the credit of ‘giving’ something nice without actually making any effort.

BethRD, that is so unfair of your mom. You should not shop for the gift until you see the check first.

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TwentyKittens August 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm

My mother is a bit like this. She has the best of intentions when she says she wants to get our family something, but is not great on actually going to get it. Fortunately, she knows this and has worked out a solution: “Oh honey, I’m going to get you a new vaccum cleaner for Christmas. Here’s the cash; let me know which one you get!”

I <3 my mom.

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Jewel August 16, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I agree with the Admin to dismiss any expectation that your MIL will ever follow-through on her promises of gifts (and, probably, any other kind of promises). You’ll never see that wrapping station or any other shower/wedding gift. Likely, you’ll be waiting until kingdom come for her to fulfill any birthday and Christmas promises she makes as well, so just automatically write off anything she says in the future about gifts. Others have given you good, practical responses you can use.

I do think, however, the issue is going to have to be addressed bluntly and unequivocably when you start having children as your MIL cannot be allowed to behave this way with them. Afterall, your first job as parent is to protect your little ones, even if it’s from their grandmother’s thoughtlessness.

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Goodness August 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm

I suppose it might be in poor taste to do so but this made me laugh. It brought up such a memory! My grandmother promised me a hand-crochet afghan in my favorite colors for a high-school graduation gift. I was hurt when graduation came and went with not even a card, much less the promised afghan. But as one does, I forgot about it and went on with my life.

One day when I was twenty-eight a large package arrived in the mail. When I opened it, there was the afghan, with a scrap of paper pinned to it. The note on it said, “Sorry, I have lots of grandchildren.”

I’m now considerably more than twice twenty-eight, and I still have the afghan.

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mamamia August 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm

My whole life I have had people who have said these types of things to me–about gifts, playdates for the kids, dinner out as a couple, taking in a movie, getting a pizza—whatever–and I would just smile, nod politely and promptly forget about it. When the person actually followed through on what they said, I was doubly surprised and it made it a wonderful gift (dinner out, playdate, etc.) and I loved it even more!

Never make the mistake of thinking you are owed something for a wedding, baby, birthday, etc. Then when someone does give you something it makes it that much sweeter.

But never make the mistake of thinking these fantasy gifters are hypocrites or liars. People make mistakes. Always give someone the benefit of the doubt because otherwise you will constantly be let down by people and always walk around in a negative spirit.

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sv August 17, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Perfect response, Cat.

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kingsrings August 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I’ve also had this done to me a few times. Sometimes it was friends. Sometimes it’s been family members. It’s a hard thing to say whether it should be brought up or not. In the family member’s case, it was the promise of money that was going to help me financially with some bills that needed to be paid – he said my gift would be to help with that (I have been having severe hardships regarding this for a couple years due to life challenges). I felt I had no choice but to bring it up with him when it wasn’t delivered since my important finances were dependent on that, and I needed to know what was going on so I could subsequently plan for Lord knows what if he wasn’t going to give this to me. So he did give to me then that time, but there’s been many other times when the “birthday present is in the mail”, but never materializes with this person.
Overall, it’s just plain rude of anyone to make a promise they don’t deliver on, unless they come to you and explain why they now can’t.

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Snarkastic August 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm

@Elizabeth: You are too funny. In a perfect world, where no one ever got offended, everyone should do it your way.

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Enna August 22, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I agree with admin. Just don’t waste time with MIL on gifts.

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Monkey Mama August 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm

It is a show of bad manners on your MIL’s part. That being said, regardless of her actions, confronting her WILL cause hard feelings. Even though you may be justified, before speaking out the outcome must be realistically considered.

My advise to you is, NEVER broach the subject. If something is to be said, it must come from you husband, you need to stay completely out of it. His mother may forgive him; forgiving you is another matter.

Do you know why your MIL makes promises she can’t keep? If you figure out what’s behind her actions, it might help you see them in a totally different light.

I would also like to add… you need to ask yourself how important are these empty promises of these “gifts”. Are you willing to jeopardize the happiness of your long term family relationship over your MIL shortcomings?

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Carol August 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm

How about people who say they got you something on a trip and for two years keep mentioning they need to send it to you, but then never do. Why keep bringing it up?

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Grey September 20, 2012 at 11:11 am

Politely tell your mother-in-law that you like surprises and ask her not to spoil it. This way, when she promises a specific gift in the future, you’ll have an acceptable reason to act disappointed. She’ll no longer be getting the desired reaction or gratitude from her promises.

Her only solutions would be to actually give you the gift, or say “I got you a gift”, neither of which will be very satisfying for her.

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