Children’s Christmas Party Gimmes

by admin on December 17, 2012

My parents belong to an organization that throws a Children’s Christmas Party for the children and grandchildren of members every year. My parents took me every year until I was 11 or 12 (I am in my 20′s now), and it was always one of my favourite events of the year. Every year, there is food, games, magicians, puppet shows, and Santa Claus, who arrives with bins and bins full of brand new toys for each child to unwrap and take home. The same woman has been in charge of purchasing toys for the children for longer than I have been alive, and she does a fantastic job. When invitees RSVP to the party, they register the attending children’s genders and ages, and each year and gender gets a specific toy. For example, on one of my favourite years, I (as a 5-year-old girl) received a purple Crayola art easel with a pack of crayons, and my brother (as a 3-year-old boy) got 12 jars of Play-Doh. The point I am trying to make, is that the woman in charge of the presents (we’ll call her “M”) doesn’t cheap out. The toys are always high-quality and age appropriate, and she puts a lot of thought into each age and gender.

Of course, some people always find a reason to complain. This year’s Children’s Christmas Party has come and gone. I have not attended for some time, but my parents remain close to M, who continues buying toys for the kids every year. Apparently this year, a woman approached M at the party, and informed her that her daughter’s toy was inappropriate, as “We are Christians, and we don’t believe in this type of toy.” The woman went on to say that she would much rather swap her 9-year-old daughter’s toy for one of the small CD players that the 12-year-old girls were receiving this year. The offensive toy in question (that all the other 9-year-old girls received as well) was a kit for the girl to make hair decorations out of plastic beads. It has been some time since my last religion class, so I must have been sick the day they taught that it was against the Bible to put beads in your hair.

M explained to the woman that the gift could not be swapped. Enough gifts are purchased for the children who are registered. No more, and no less. There simply weren’t any CD players left to give to the 9-year-old, and even if there were, a swap would still not be possible because as soon as one child got to switch their gifts, more children would want to pick and choose their presents. This woman, however, would not let up. After a fair bit of badgering, it seemed even her daughter was getting upset. Finally, exasperated, M reiterated that there was nothing she could do to switch the toy for something else. She suggested that the Christian thing to do would be to donate the unwanted toy to a charity that collected for less fortunate children for Christmas. In fact, M went on to explain, there was a collection being taken up at that very party, and the donated toys would be driven to the charity that evening. At this, M ended the conversation and busied herself with other tasks.

A few hours later, as the party was winding down, the same woman approached M. “Just wanted to let you know that we have another daughter we forgot to register. She’s 12.” Again, M apologized, and reminded the woman that it had been printed in bold type on the invitations that children who weren’t registered would not receive a gift. The woman left in a huff without her coveted CD player.

When the party ended, everything was cleaned up, and all that was left to do was deliver the donated toys to the above-mentioned charity, M made a point to check for a hair-decorating kit among the donations. There was none there. Apparently, the so-called “religiously offensive” toy was better than no toy at all.   1205-12

{ 101 comments… read them below or add one }

Yasuragi December 17, 2012 at 2:45 am

Making up a fake daughter for a free CD player…classy.

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Janos December 17, 2012 at 4:06 am

Oh wow! What GALL! She tried to LIE to get the CD player? D: Omg the nerve of some people I swear…

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Dorothy Bruce December 17, 2012 at 4:57 am

I hope that M keeps track of the Gimme Pig’s name and see if she signs up for next year’s party. Just to see if she says she had a 12-year old as well as the one she registered.

Gimme pigs know no shame or guilt, which is a pity for the little girl who was witnessing her mother’s embarrassing behavior.

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Lou December 17, 2012 at 5:53 am

Hmmm…well, I’ll hazard a guess that there was no real religious objection to the hair beads (which sound ace by the way!), just that the CD player looked like a ‘better/more expensive/more desirable/all of the above’ gift. That sounds like an amazing Christmas party and I take my hat off to M for organising it so well and sticking to her guns so politely – she was exactly right, the minute she allowed one child to swap a gift, she’d no doubt be deluged by parents and kids who also wanted to swap. In fact, I could see the presentation ending up with parents wanting to request specific gifts for their kids ahead of time so they’d be sure to get what they wanted!

I’m always tickled by how far people will go to get extras or substitutes when there’s free stuff available – a teen girls’ clothing shop I used to work in (any Brits remember Tammy Girl?) would normally have some kind of giveaway over the school half-terms, along the lines of ‘Spend over £25.00 and receive a free yo-yo/makeup bag/random glittery object’. I’ve seen and heard parents conspire, mislead, wheedle, threaten and actually throw temper tantrums trying to get extras of these little items for their other kids, or substitute the free gift offered for something their daughter wanted more, or be allowed to rummage through the box for 10 minutes to choose the ‘perfect’ colour while a queue built behind them. I’d be really interested to understand the psychology behind this behaviour – it doesn’t seem to happen in the same way when people are paying for goods, does it?

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Carol December 17, 2012 at 6:36 am

I love this story because ‘M’ had the polite spine everyone hopes to have in this sort of situation. And I had to laugh at that woman’s blatent attempt to upgrade her daughter’s toy to something she thought was more valuable. I do wonder how a CD player is ‘more Christian’ than jewelry for the hair.

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delislice December 17, 2012 at 7:15 am

Anyone who has been a parent for nine years to a child she is raising according to religious guidelines must be accustomed to that child receiving gifts that are not OK. One would think that by now she would have come up with a less offensive protocol.

Or maybe her protocol is to rub her beliefs in other people’s faces whenever possible.

I worked part-time in a bakery during grad school, and whenever I asked, “Cash, check, debit, or credit?” there were always a few people who very loftily said, “Oh, we don’t USE credit cards.” Good for you. I DON’T CARE.

For the record, there are interpretations of Christianity that holds to girls and women dressing very modestly, not cutting their hair, and not adorning themselves with jewelry, including hair ornaments. That having been said, Mom’s protocol is off-base. Way, way off-base.

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o_gal December 17, 2012 at 7:27 am

The woman was a rude boor and her actions were inexcusable. I think she invented the other daughter just to see if she could get a CD player. And I’m sure that she wasn’t really offended at the bead kit – she was using her “Christianity” to try to get a better gift. However, your comment on the Bible banning beads in the hair – do not dismiss that lightly. There are denominations of Christianity that do not believe in wearing jewelry, and I can easily see that hair beading would fall under that same restriction.

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Kimstu December 17, 2012 at 7:28 am

Three cheers for M and her polite spine! Yes, this sounds like a blatant gift-grab attempt to score a more “desirable” present by using religious scruples as an excuse.

This sort of gimme-pig gives religious conscience a bad name. I’m not a Christian myself, but the Christians I know would behave very differently if their child got a generic gift that somehow violated their religious principles:

1) Thank the donor (and make sure the child expressed gratitude too);

2) Privately explain to the child why they are conscientiously opposed to such a gift while stressing the importance of not making the donor feel bad about the gift choice;

3) Discreetly arrange to redirect the item to somebody else (or, if they really feel the item is pernicious not just for people of their own faith but for anybody at all, discreetly destroy it).

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Red Cat December 17, 2012 at 7:30 am

The sense of entitlement and blatant falsehood are disgusting. M sounds wonderful, so glad she didn’t give in to those ungrateful people.

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LiLi December 17, 2012 at 8:07 am

Call me a cynic, but I highly doubt there was any real religious objection to the gift. I’d bet money she figured that M wouldn’t want to argue with her if she claimed a religious objection for fear of sounding like a bigot.

It’s kind of like how some people claim they are “allergic” to foods they simply don’t like, people will roll their eyes at someone who is picky but will often bend over backwards to accommodate something that is out of the person’s control.

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Jen December 17, 2012 at 8:12 am

The only bible verse I can think of is one that says women shouldn’t wear their hair in braids. But, seriously? Somehow I have a hard time believing that was really the lady’s issue.

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Daquiri December 17, 2012 at 8:19 am

There always has to be ONE who ruins it for everyone! I am sure having to deal with the entitled woman put a bad taste in M’s mouth. M sounds like a kind and generous woman – what a task to put together the gifts every year. Hats off to M!!

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Sara December 17, 2012 at 8:20 am

Lou, I think you hit the nail on the head. My guess is that there wasn’t any religious objection to begin with, it just seemed like a convenient ploy. And I’m pretty sure that lying, bullying and greed are all higher up on the “un-Christian behaviors” list than putting beads in your hair.
Granted, I don’t know a lot about the various forms of Christianity, but the only religious objection I could see to the hair kit would be something about vanity. But if that’s the case, as another poster said, a mother of a nine-year-old girl (and especially a 12-year-old as well, if she was in fact telling the truth, which I doubt) couldn’t possibly have reached that point without either of her daughters ever receiving a gift along those lines.

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Lo December 17, 2012 at 8:25 am

I agree with Lou that she probably wasn’t really objecting based on religious principle but because she wanted the better item.

I sincerely hope this was not the case, but I can’t imagine someone who is religious enough to object to ornamentation of the hair also objecting to donating this gift. As M pointed out, it really WOULD be the Christian thing to do. Because Christmas isn’t about gifts it’s about Jesus for us.

So sadly I feel this woman must have been using religion to get what she wanted and as a Christian I take that personally. My mother occasionally had to object to gifts we were given when I was a child because they weren’t in line with our beliefs. One time it was a set of whimsical centaur dolls that I wanted as soon as I opened the package. She convinced me they were probably promoting magic so I gave them up. (God bless her, I love her but she was kind of a nut back then) She never objected to the giver, didn’t say a word, just made sure I thanked this person profusely and then secretly gave the toy away so the giver wouldn’t know. That’s the classy way to handle an inappropriate gift.

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Jewel December 17, 2012 at 8:31 am

I hope the group’s president or another member of the governing board will make a point to take this parent aside and illuminate her about how she should and shouldn’t conduct herself at the event. It’s a member like this parent who can literally ruin a long-running successful event and/or cause the coordinators of said long-running successful event to quit. Not only does “M” deserve to have back-up from the board, but the parent desperately needs a wake-up call on her boorish behavior.

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Margo December 17, 2012 at 8:32 am

Three cheers for M and her polite spine!

I agree that Mom seems in this instance to have been using her “christianity” as a lever to try to get her own way. Surely if she had genuinely had concerns she could have made enquiries before registering, and asked whether it was possible to add a note when she registered? (“Please no perfume/jewellery related gifts as these conflict with our religious beliefs”, for instance.)

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Psyche December 17, 2012 at 8:36 am

I hope this woman isn’t invited to the next year’s party.

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WeatherGirl December 17, 2012 at 8:48 am

Now I’ll admit I haven’t been to church in awhile (although I am a Christian), but I seem to remember that there’s a prohibition against lying in the Bible, correct? Such a good Christian woman as this mother seems to be should know that. Hence, making up a fake daughter would be doubly bad, don’t you think?

Also, I agree with other posters that “M” did a good job not bending to the mother’s demands.

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Allie December 17, 2012 at 8:49 am

I went to a similar celebration for a few years, sadly because my uncle was in prison and it was the annual family Christmas visit, where age appropriate gifts were provided for the visiting children. In this case, however, all the gifts were different. They just had a gender and age range on each wrapped gift and the children got to select. I confess to being slightly disappointed one year when the gift I selected was a pretty green box for storing small toys and treasures in rather than an actual toy. However, I accepted it with thanks and remarked on how much I like it so as not to let anyone know, and in fact, I ended up getting a lot of use and pleasure out of that gift. I can still think back and remember some of the toys and treasures I stored in it over the years, from Barbie clothes to collectible figurines to stickers. It’s sad this woman is using fake religious objections and fake daughters to try to wrangle a “better” gift for her daughter. I can hardly think of anything less Christian to teach her.

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Coralreef December 17, 2012 at 9:05 am

Wait… little atheist me is confused. The mother was offended by the gift of the hair beads because it went against her Christian beliefs? But lying about forgetting a (possibly non-existent) 12 year-old daugther does not go against her Christian beliefs? I was not aware that one could pick and choose what beliefs to adhere to depending on the situation.

Guess who’s getting coal in her stocking this year?

M sounds like a great lady. The way she handled it showed lots of class and a healthy dose of polite spine. I don’t know her and I like her already.

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Another Laura December 17, 2012 at 9:08 am

o_gal said “However, your comment on the Bible banning beads in the hair – do not dismiss that lightly. There are denominations of Christianity that do not believe in wearing jewelry, and I can easily see that hair beading would fall under that same restriction.”
True, but I’d say that 99.9% of those denominations would also frown on CD players-not to mention belonging to civic organizations such as the one that hosted this party for the children of it’s members.

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Mrs. Lovett December 17, 2012 at 9:11 am

I don’t think M could have handled that any better than she did. She explained clearly to the mother the very satisfactory reasons why she could not swap her daughter’s gift, and when it became clear the mother would not accept the explanation, she walked away from the situation. Bravo!

Regarding the mother, it always shocks me the way people treat free stuff. If I get something free that I can use, I’m thrilled. If I get something free that I can’t use for any reason, then I appreciate that I’m not out any money or resources for it and I give it or throw it away. If her daughter didn’t receive a gift she could use, then that’s unfortunate. However, the daughter’s no worse off than she was before the party, and I’m sure she had a blast there. It sounds like a good time. I hope the example set by M sticks with the daughter much longer than the example set by her mother.

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Abby December 17, 2012 at 9:17 am

I’m always surprised at what some people will be willing to do or say to get their way. I suppose we should just be grateful the Mom didn’t move on to shake down some 12 year old girl at the party and strongarm her into switching her present with the 9 year old.

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Cat December 17, 2012 at 9:26 am

Methinks Mommy wanted the player as an upgrade and not for any religious beliefs. That was probably all she could come up with as an excuse. “We’re Vegans!” does not work for hair ornaments so she had to have something to use as an excuse .
For that matter, some fundmentalist Christians don’t celebrate Christmas (which is, after all, is short for Christ’s Mass) since Christ was not born in December (shepherds watch their flocks in the spring, during lambing season) and would not be taking gifts anyway.
I stand by M. She made an excellent effort to find age-appropriate gifts. This is more like the Mom whose son didn’t like any of the Halloween candy a lady was giving out, and Mom was told to go to the store and she could then give her precious pumpkin what he just had to have.

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PM December 17, 2012 at 9:29 am

When I was a kid, my old church threw a holiday party after the annual Christmas pageant. Santa Claus would show up and ask us what we wanted, have our picture taken with us, etc. Every kid would get a LARGE candy cane with a little explanation of the candy cane’s and its religious connotations. (The Shepherd’s crook legend)

When I was 11 or so, and growing out of sitting on Santa’s lap, a new family moved to the church. They went to the holiday party and their kids talked to Santa and got their candy canes. The Mom and Dad threw a FIT. They couldn’t believe that all the kids got was a “lousy candy cane.” Where were the toys and the dolls? Where were the Christmas baskets with ham and fruit? Didn’t we know that some families depended on the church to get presents for their kids? Now what were they supposed to do? They had nothing to give their children!

Also note that they were shouting about this in front of a crowded room, embarrassing their children, the organizers and the Santa. They made their kids throw the candy canes on the floor and they walked out.

The party ended pretty quickly after that.

And the family came back to church and acted like nothing happened!

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PM December 17, 2012 at 9:31 am

^^By that I mean the family back to church in the following weeks, not that they came back to the party.

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Shannan December 17, 2012 at 9:31 am

Not that I’m trying to excuse M’s behavior in any way, but in my part of the country, there is a religion that does not allow women to wear makeup or cut their hair. Older women wear their hair in a bun and younger ones wear ribbons or bows. I haven’t seen any with beads.

That said, when m was told she could donate the item, the graceful thing would have been to leave it at that. I can’t believe the gall of “inventing” a child just so she could get the gift she wanted.

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Cheryl27 December 17, 2012 at 9:47 am

Love people like this, the whole point of the event is to have a great time, not a gift grab. The only suggestion would be to return the gift for the child and buy the CD player on their own time. There was no need for compalining and then making up a fake child in order to get the gift either the child or parent wanted. This mother is extremly tacky and is not teaching her child the true chritian meaning of Christmas. I agree with the writer of the story, I grew up in a chatholic school and I know that there is no such teaching in which hair accessories are against any religion. It is people like this in which a liscense or pettion is enforced as to whether these types of people should never have kids.

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Elizabeth December 17, 2012 at 9:49 am

Abby, my thought exactly. Easier to bully a 12yr than an adult with a polite spine.

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egl December 17, 2012 at 10:30 am

I’m also guessing mom didn’t have any real religious objections and just wanted a CD player instead. Given the nature of the gift, she and her daughter could have found other uses for the beads, even if wearing them was an issue for her and she didn’t want to leave without a gift.

Glad to see M stood her ground. Let’s hope the mom learned her lesson, otherwise I see her demanding to know what her daughter is getting next year in advance, and trying to get changes made if she doesn’t like it, or her registering a fictional kid so there’ll be an extra.

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OP December 17, 2012 at 10:42 am

OP here. I was a little flippant in my dismissal of hair decorations being against Christianity, and for that I apologize. I did a little bit of research after I submitted this story, and I did realize that there is a passage in the Old Testament that forbids decorating the hair with jewlery, etc. and that certain denominations still do adhere to those policies. That probably could have prevented me from looking like a snarky jerk had I Googled it before composing this submission.

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inNM December 17, 2012 at 10:57 am

Firstly, congrats to M for sticking to her convictions.

I am always amused by people who think they’re smarter than the rest of us. I’m not talking about academically smart, I’m talking about the people who think they can outcon someone using their (half) wits. I’m sure the Mom was quite proud of her plan B – inventing the 12 year old – because she thought that M would never be able to emotionally resist disappointing her 12 year old. What a smart idea! Of course, all the questions that would have arisen, like where was this child for the whole party, why wasn’t she pre-registered, etc.

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LadyPhoenix December 17, 2012 at 11:18 am

Me thinks the mother was just trying to lie her way into getting something better than hair beads.

If she WAS a supposedly devout Christian, she would have happily accepted the gift (charity is a virtue, after all) and not whined about getting a CD player. And she certainly wouldn’t LIE about having an additional daughter — whom she never bothered to register — to get something.

I think this woman was just a would-be scammer, and I’m glad M did not fall for it. Let’s hope this mother is not invited to the next Christmas party after that fiasco. Oh, and of course, burn in e-hell.

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Ellen December 17, 2012 at 11:23 am

As Another Laura mentioned, the only Christian denominations I know of that ban wearing jewelry or “fancy” hair decorations, would also ban attending secularized Christmas parties with Santa Claus. And they most certainly ban lying and coveting the posessions of others.

Of all times to make Christianity look bad, why pick Christmas to do it? Bleah.

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Ashley December 17, 2012 at 11:27 am

So beaded hair adornments are not okay, but lying and making up a person to try and strong arm someone into giving you what you perceive as a better gift is just fine? Good job to M for keeping her cool and not letting anyone break the rules.

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Lisa December 17, 2012 at 11:31 am

I am a Christian. The definition of Christian is to be ‘Christ-like’. At all times. Of course given our nature this isn’t possible and therefore we seek forgiveness, however this woman’s behavior was not just a slip up of human nature, but outright horrible, and using the religion card to get what she wanted was just offensive. This sort of stunt is what gives Christians a bad name.

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JGM1764 December 17, 2012 at 11:39 am

@Abby, that’s just what I thought, too! It wouldn’t surprised me in the slightest if this boor had done such a thing. And a lot of 12-year-olds would probably have been intimidated by such a thing in that situation and relinquished hers (I certainly had no spine at that age), thus ruining the party for her.

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Kit December 17, 2012 at 11:50 am

Would in be very un-Christian if M next year, should the same woman again register her now-9-year-old daughter, remind that she not forget her other daughter again?

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o_gal December 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Another Laura – the one that I’m thinking of is the Seventh Day Adventists. I play in handbell choir at one of them, although I’m not a member. Women (and men) do not wear jewelry, but they will wear watches. This church has a number of musical groups, and many CDs have been made over the years of different performances, available for sale through the church office. So there can be a restriction on one without on the other

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Enna December 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Wow. How unChristain is this woman?

1) She lies about a reiligious objection that she conviently has.

2) She shows greed because she wants her daughter to have something different.

3) She lies again about a 12 year old daughter.

4) She shows greed again because she is asking for 2 gifts.

5) She lies again when she doesn’t surrender the “offending” gift. It can’t have offended her that much.

6) She also shows greed a gain because she keeps something that her or her daughter apparently doesn’t want.

Now if say a 12 year old girl already had a CD player and said “do you want to swap?” then that would be a bit different. At my work’s christmas meal one colleague got a bottle of red wine which she doesn’t drink and another colleague got chocolates, so they swapped – so avoiding a wasted presant.

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ferretrick December 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm

“I sincerely hope this was not the case, but I can’t imagine someone who is religious enough to object to ornamentation of the hair also objecting to donating this gift. As M pointed out, it really WOULD be the Christian thing to do. Because Christmas isn’t about gifts it’s about Jesus for us.”

Don’t bet on it. The Salvation Army throws away any Harry Potter or Twilight merchandise they receive; they consider them sinful and refuse to even pass them on to other charities that do not hold that belief.

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barb December 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Am I the only one who is surprised that CD players are still a coveted item? I thought CDs were phased out a few years ago when MP3 players became popular.

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Angel December 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm

There’s an old saying that no good deed goes unpunished. It’s sad to say but the more you try and do for some people, the more they try to get out of you. It kind of makes you lose your faith in humanity a little bit. Most people who participate in events like this you would think go for a sense of community and good will–gifts should be secondary.

The religious objection was obviously a lie to get her daughter what she perceived to be a better present. Hopefully at 9 years old, the daughter had the good sense to be mortified by her mom’s behavior. If not, the daughter will have bigger problems further down the road. Hopefully this idiot (the mom) doesn’t ruin the event for everyone else :(

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AthenaC December 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm

It’s amusing how that mother (and others like her) assume that the “Christian” label makes (insert atypical obscure belief) self-evident. As if there weren’t more than one stripe of Christianity. Over the years I have met many people who assume that “Christian” self-evidently means any of the following:

1) women do not wear pants
2) women do not cut their hair
3) men wear beards
4) Harry Potter boycott
5) Magic: The Gathering / World of Warcraft / etc. boycott
6) Disney boycott
7) avoiding any and all contact with homosexuals, single mothers, and unmarried couples who live together
8) any combination of any of the above

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Elizabeth December 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I think it’s giving too much credit to think she really did have a religious objection. I watched an appalling amount of my friends in high school get their parents to pull the religion card, usually dishonestly, any time they didn’t want to do something (marching band, gym participation, reading such salacious authors as Jane Austin, etc), and it worked without fail. I’m an atheist myself, but I live in the south and from what I’ve seen the type of person with an actual religious objection to the toy would also have an even bigger religious objection to being a gimme pig. They would have said thanks, quietly donated the toy, and smiled pleasantly the whole time. This woman just thinks she’s entitled to her way and knows what tricks will usually get it. I aspire to M’s polite spine! Well handled.

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Kate December 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Slightly Off Topic: It always confuses me when people say that Christmas is about Jesus. For those of us who aren’t Christians, it really, really isn’t. I think that Christmas has become a sort of divided holiday, like Easter.

Non-Christians seem to see Easter as a holiday for kids: hide and seek with eggs, chocolate and little toys in a basket when you wake up in the morning. Nothing to do with religion, let alone the Christian religion and the resurrection of Jesus.

Just like Christmas: to a lot of people it has nothing to do with Jesus or the Christian religion, it seems to me a lot of people of different religions celebrate Christmas, it has become a cultural holiday, not a religious one. Giving is still the reason of the season, but because it is the right thing to do, not because of Jesus or Christianity. As well, giving gifts, spending time with family, etc.

I guess I feel awkward when people state that Christmas is about Jesus, and I’m like “Yeah, not when you are not a Christian it isn’t, and I can celebrate Christmas too!” After all, Christmas was originally developed to try and sway people from the Pagan holiday of Solstice, and a lot of the traditions are the same, Jesus wasn’t even born then, I understand scholars think, he was probably born in the spring. And Halloween was originally a Pagan holiday, does that mean that non-Pagans can’t celebrate it, or that if they do they aren’t celebrating the “true Halloween”?

No, it doesn’t! I guess I just wish people would stop acting like a particular holiday that has become massively secularized belongs to any one group, and that there is a “real” holiday only for the people of that group who “remember the reason for the season”. Hope I am not sounding like a jerk here, I don’t mean to, but this is something I have been thinking about lately.

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Rebecca December 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Free stuff really brings out the Entitlement Queens (and Kings). I once had a job in a mall taking the free photos of kids with Santa. I thought it would be fun, as my memories of childhood visiting Santa are of fun times and excitement for Christmas. It was AWFUL. It wasn’t the kids who were awful – it was the parents. Their expectations of this free snapshot were of professional quality portrait photography, the kind you’d pay hundreds for, with perfect facial expressions every time. I had to work fast as most young children (especially babies) would start to cry if I waited too long. I was berated by one woman because “you didn’t wait for him to smile.” (I was dealing with an infant). I explained that I have to snap the shot before they cry, and was told “he never cries.” Within seconds, he was wailing up a storm and it was all I could do not to say, “See?” This was in the days of film photography, so unless there was a glaring error obvious right off the bat, I wasn’t doing a whole load of retakes, especially with the huge lineups. Most of the shots actually came out fine, but these parents seemed to expect a higher level of portrait photography.

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Nikki December 17, 2012 at 1:50 pm

There are always those that try to take advantage of “free” items. One reason why I sometimes feel rather uncharitable around this time of year is because after having worked with the public so long, I have seen so many for whom a little was NEVER enough.

The store I used to work at gives candy out at Halloween to children. I HATED having that assignment, because so many adults would want candy too – which in theory would be fine, except that then they wanted candy for the, “uh, other three” kids they’d left at home on Halloween, and “Yeah, my grandkids,” too. And of course, they didn’t want anything other than the top name brand chocolates and suckers that “the kids” favored too. If you weren’t careful, you really would end up having nothing left for the children who were actually trick-or-treating.

Sounds to me like M did a great job. Regardless of this woman’s religious beliefs, her behavior was abominable and reprehensible. She managed to come across as greedy and as a liar, and as a Christian myself, I take offense to her claims. She did not act with the warmth of the Christmas season, and shame on her.

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AS December 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm

That is disgusting behavior! I hope the child at least has one parent who can teach her that what dear momma did was extremely tacky! Otherwise, we might have many stories about her on the site when she grows her (unless the girl learns for herself – which some amazing people somehow do learn).

I had a sort of similar, though not as tacky story. My grad school boss and his wife hosted an annual Christmas party for all his and his wife’s students, close friends and their families. They always had a gift exchange, for which you contribute something (not too expensive), and then end up picking up something else. All gifts are wrapped, and hence you have no way of finding out what you got until the end, when you open it. You are allowed to exchange on mutual consent. One year, I won some play dough. It is not much of a use to me, but I didn’t care much and was happy. I was speaking to another lady, and she said that her 9 year old daughter got something (I guess a butter knife set or something), that she is not too happy with, and would love to have gotten play dough. I asked her if she wanted to exchange, and the lady happily said “yes”. I gave her the play dough, which she gave her daughter. Then I asked her if she would give me the butter knife set, because, you know, it was an “exchange”. She glared at me as if saying “how dare you take a gift from a little girl”! I left it at that, and not getting a gift didn’t bother me. But I was quite appalled by her because she had promised to “exchange”. I would not have cared if I was negotiating with the child, and just laughed it off thinking she is young and has ways to go. But I didn’t think it was right on her mother’s part to keep two things for herself, when she had contributed only one, and then act as if I was somehow evil to ask her to keep her side of the bargain (because the child was holding both the gifts!).

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Tracy December 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Beads are bad. Lying is good. Sounds like an interesting religion.

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