The Self Righteous Will Get Tossed Into Etiquette Hell

by admin on October 12, 2015

So recently my brother and his wife (who I will call SIL) called my partner and asked if starting next year we perhaps just exchange cards for our children’s birthday or phone calls (as they live interstate) with the exception of important birthdays, she suggested 1, 5, 13, 18 and 21. Their reasoning was that with my sister having another baby it is just getting too expensive to be spending $40 per child’s birthday, which is the previously agreed upon amount.

Now I think this is all my SIL’s influence, they have ONE child compared to my three and I think she’s being exceptionally greedy and selfish, she doesn’t want to spend $120 on my kids because she only gets a $40 present in return. Earlier this year after I sent her child’s birthday present (which totaled $20 including postage) I heard she was talking about it to my mother and she said that her son had more fun “playing with the box”, which was her telling us that what I sent her wasn’t good enough. She’s been trying to stop us from this for years always crying that they have a “strict budget” and that it’s getting so expensive, she even suggested that we take the money we would spend on her child and buy our kids extra presents, which is ridiculous! Anyone knows that $40 between three kids isn’t going to go very far, and their $120 would get their child so much more.

In addition to this, my kids don’t care about cards. They generally tear them trying to get the money that’s inside them. Last year she gave my son $40 in a pop up card she had made and then proceeded to sulk when my son tore the card trying to see if it contained more money. He’s only 9. These days she doesn’t even send a card, she just gets something shipped to our house from online and calls relentlessly to find out if they received it, even though she usually has a tracking number so she would know if they receive it. She even had the gall to call and ask why the kids don’t call to say thank you when they get their gifts!! Trying to tell me how to parent my children!!

I wish my brother would just divorce this materialistic woman, it’s her choice to only have one child, so I don’t see why my children have to suffer because she doesn’t want to spend more money on my kids than I spend on hers! It’s ridiculous!

Any advice on how to deal with this horrid woman? 0817-15

It’s tempting to believe this was written and submitted as a troll post.   The only person obsessed with dollar amounts is the OP whose greedy, ill mannered kids destroy cards in their frenzied attempt to get the money inside and don’t have any clue to thank the giver.   Meanwhile Mom is all huffy and put out that someone called her on her bad parenting and calculates to the penny how unfair it is that her greedy kids don’t get their fair share.

 

{ 125 comments… read them below or add one }

Jinx October 12, 2015 at 8:01 am

This has got to be satire. Like, it’s so perfectly done to paint the OP in a way to make us hate him or her.

Excellent fiction on depicting exactly how an A**h*** would think.

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clairedelune October 12, 2015 at 8:18 am

Agreed. I think Admin’s first instinct that this is just trolling is right on.

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AIP October 13, 2015 at 5:29 pm

It has to be, HAS to be!

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Mal October 14, 2015 at 6:06 am

If a long rant starts with “So”, I kinda automatically call troll.

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KarenK October 12, 2015 at 8:01 am

If this is not a troll, I am appalled that anyone who spends any time on this site would think that this was a valid attitude.

Actually, I suspect that this was written by the supposed villain of the piece to reflect the attitude of her husband’s sister.

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Karalee October 12, 2015 at 8:20 am

That is exactly what I was thinking!

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Willynilly October 12, 2015 at 8:22 am

This reads like it was written by the “cheap” sister in law about the behavior and attitude of her husband’s sister.

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cdubz October 12, 2015 at 9:34 am

That was my first thought as well.

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Anonymous October 12, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Same. I wouldn’t call the kids greedy, though, because their parents taught them that through example.

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Chicalola October 12, 2015 at 8:39 am

Oh my goodness…I really hope this is fake. Your poor SIL if this is real. You are a greedy person.

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Lex October 12, 2015 at 8:42 am

Let’s pretend for a moment this ISN’T a troll (because TBH I’ve encountered people who have worse attitudes than this and manage to pull off this level of self-righteousness). Assuming this is a legit letter, NEITHER party in this story comes over well, although the submitter is considerably more aggressive about it.

1) As a whole, stipulating and then complaining about a monetary gift rule is generally pretty shoddy, but from a financial perspective, as someone who is struggling for money myself, I can understand why a person might WANT to cut back on gift buying.

2) It sounds to me like the OP’s children and greedy and spoiled – ripping open cards to get at the money? I never ripped open a card in my life! At age 9 they should be WELL beyond this behaviour but the OP uses the excuse ‘they are only 9’ – I was always taught to open things neatly and carefully, and my nephew, who is also 9 and autistic, is perfectly capable of taking care and being calm in opening presents. So age OR autism is not an excuse for poor manners (just in case anyone starts with the usual ‘autism’ arguments).

3) Did the OP actually physically HEAR her SIL say her son had more fun with the box? Or was this paraphrased and passed on via a third party? If so then a) you can’t trust the accuracy and b) it is very very very common for people to buy children thoughtful gifts and for the child to spend more time playing with the box. This is not an insult to the gift. Indeed in our family it’s a well known and accepted joke that younger family members get more fun out of the boxes. We never take this as an insult – that is just the way children are – especially if the box in question is large. It is almost always a jovial story rather than an insult and I suspect (taking it at face value) the same is true here.

4) Why is the OP not instructing her children to thank their Aunt for her thoughtfulness? No, she shouldn’t be instructing you on how to raise your children but you should have the manners to teach your children to show respect for gifts.

I learned a useful phrase recently that I wish I’d known years ago. I used to have a lot of elderly Great-$relatives who used to send my sister and I odd gifts. Strange things that girls of our age either had no use for or grew out of. My mother would NEVER NEVER NEVER have allowed us to let this get in the way of expressing appreciation for their gift and I recently discovered a delightful catch-all that works for every possible scenario:

“Thank you so much for your thoughtful gift.”

This works whether you like it or not and avoids hurt feelings because if you use it unilaterally for all gifts, no-one can infer whether their gift was ‘inferior’ or not. I’ve used it in thank you cards for some ghastly items, but I’ve also used it for things I genuinely love. It’s very handy. I suggest the OP teach her children how to use it.

Lastly: Wishing your brother would divorce his wife and subject his child to a broken home just because YOU don’t like her is probably the most appalling aspect of this post. I’d like to think it’s a troll but I doubt it.

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girl_with_all_the_yarn October 12, 2015 at 11:35 am

Last Christmas I sent several of my nieces and nephews refrigerator boxes. They were folded flat, and I ordered them online and had them shipped.

Hit gift of the season.

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AnaMaria October 13, 2015 at 11:46 am

OMGsh…best gift idea ever. I’m stealing this!

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Stephbwfern October 12, 2015 at 2:48 pm

So, because you know one child with autism who doesn’t behave in a certain way,, therefore that’s how all children with autism should behave? Cos every autistic child is exactly the same, are they?

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Lex October 13, 2015 at 2:48 am

DING DING DING AUTISM BINGO!

I only know 1 9yo and he just happens to be Autistic as well. I figured I’d chuck that minor detail in before someone jumps on the ‘but autistic kids can’t help it’ band wagon – it can be helped. I used to support a girl with Cerebral Palsy who had difficulty with fine motor control and yet even then she managed not to destroy things because she made an effort not to – it was a concious choice for her. So I don’t accept that ripping stuff apart is just ‘kids being kids’ – it’s because they’re greedy little so-and-so’s and there are no excuses for this behaviour.

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Nunya October 13, 2015 at 2:06 pm

You don’t get to call “Autism Bingo” when it was YOU who mentioned autism in the first place.

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Jennifer October 13, 2015 at 7:48 am

I believe what she was saying, and I agree with her, is that every child is capable of having good manners. I worked with special needs children for 5 years. These children ranged from severe/profound autism to mild/moderate MR. The one difference that I saw in the children who had manners versus those who don’t (the severity not mattering) is the attitude of the parents. Those with manners had parents would not tolerate bad behavior, manners, and actions and corrected the problems swiftly. The children who had bad behaviors had parents who would dimiss the behavior with statements such as “they can’t help it” or “its ok, they have (insert handicap)”. The mental ages of these children ranged from 2-8. Guess what? You can still teach a 2-8 year old to say “please” and “thank you”.

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MamaToreen October 13, 2015 at 8:17 am

Actually, My brother is autistic. Autistic children of all but the most severe levels can be focused and taught to handle gifts and thank yous properly

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Stephbwfern October 13, 2015 at 2:30 pm

While I do agree with most of your replies, that children with varying disabilities can be taught manners within their capabilities, I DETEST this notion that “I know someone with x, and he/she doesn’t do y – therefore everyone with x doesn’t do y”. That is what I am challenging. I don’t care if it is regarding manners or toileting habits or government payments. It’s ignorant, generalizing and dehumanizing.

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Wild Irish Rose October 12, 2015 at 4:16 pm

A blanket thank-you is fine, but I was taught (and Miss Manners confirms) that when you write a thank-you note to a giver, you should specifically name the gift.

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Lex October 13, 2015 at 2:51 am

Oh I wasn’t saying that ‘Thank you for your thoughtful gift’ was the entirety of the letter, simply the sentiment. A person might say ‘Thank you for the knitted cat booties, they were a very thoughtful gift’ or ‘Thank you for the Dragonfly necklace, it was a very thoughtful gift.’ It’s certainly how I tend to use it in the context of a larger letter.

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GeenaG October 12, 2015 at 5:29 pm

I’ve encountered people who think like this as well, they are out there, much as it boggles the mind.

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lakey October 12, 2015 at 5:48 pm

“1) As a whole, stipulating and then complaining about a monetary gift rule is generally pretty shoddy, but from a financial perspective, as someone who is struggling for money myself, I can understand why a person might WANT to cut back on gift buying.”

Not only that, but $40 gifts for young children seems pretty extravagant for me. I love my nieces and nephews, but I don’t spend $40 on gifts for 2 year olds. The great things about toddlers is that there are nice toys that you can get for reasonable prices. It’s when they’re tweens and teens where you have to spend more.

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Lex October 13, 2015 at 2:36 am

I would agree, but I have to say that nothing is cheap anymore. I’m British so $ values mean little to me, but I guess $40 is around £30-35 which is pretty standard for a ‘low level’ gift. As an example, if I were to buy my nephew a gift, I might budget around £20 ($30?) but you don’t get much for that and with cards, gift wrapping and postage on top unfortunately a limited budget doesn’t go very far these days. If I were to buy my Nephew, say, a NERF gun at £10-£15, it would cost me £5 to post it. Toddlers are much easier to shop for – I’ve bought some lovely wooden toys for less than £10 for my godson but again, postage is very pricey (assuming you can’t deliver it in person ofc).

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flora October 14, 2015 at 6:59 am

This is what I was thinking as well. I work in a craft store and there’s a lot of nice craft kits you can get between 5 and 10 dollars. Even the expensive most expensive shopkins playsets are thirty.

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Mary October 12, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Girl_with_all_the_yarn, you can do that? Wish I had known you could order flat refrigerator boxes years ago! My kids would have loved that!

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Lex October 15, 2015 at 6:55 am

There are websites you can go to to order packing boxes if you’re moving house – the range of sizes available is quite impressive.

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Ella October 13, 2015 at 12:39 am

Seriously? I don’t know why you brought autism, but as someone who actually has autism, diagnosed, and has known hundreds of autistic people from the lowest functioning to the highest, I’m laughing you out of the building for your ignorance and pigeonholing. Good for our nephew for not ripping cards. I know many autistic people who couldn’t help but rip it. You do your nephew a disservice. That being said the original story is clearly fake, and even if not they said *nothing* about autism.

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Lex October 13, 2015 at 2:41 am

Because someone almost always bleats on about ‘blah blah blah what if the kid is autistic and can’t help themselves’ – the ‘Etiquette Hell Bingo’ includes such phrases as ‘But what if Autism’ and DING DING DING you hit the button! BINGO! I was simply making a point that the letter writer uses the excuse of her childs age to excuse their poor behaviour. I only know one 9 year old and he JUST HAPPENS to be autistic too. I don’t have much reference for other 9yos but I do remember that when I was a child I wasn’t permitted to behave in such a greedy way.

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Miss-E October 13, 2015 at 1:18 pm

I’m with you Lex. I’m so sick of seeing people say “but what if autism”. If its a case of autism then the circumstances are different. I think this post is fake but if it weren’t and one of those kids was autistic, I imagine the OP would include that in the story.

This is an etiquette site dedicated to interactions between most people. We talk about the standards and expectations of society. If someone is not able to meet those then the circumstances surrounding them are different. You would never expect someone in a wheelchair to hold a door for you even if it’s the polite thing to do because they are unable. Severely autistic people cannot adhere to the expectations of society.

These stories about normal people who can’t behave which is why I think Lex is saying maybe let’s stop playing the autism card.

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Monkeysmommy October 13, 2015 at 9:39 am

That’s okay, some of us are laughing at your ignorance as well. Lex clearly didn’t mean anything derogatory by this.

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Stephbwfern October 13, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Charming.

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Charlie November 3, 2015 at 1:57 am

Yes, she is. She certainly didn’t say anything UN-charming. I’ll assume that this is your “I’m butthurt because I can’t win a ridiculous online argument so now I’m going to have a sourpuss atttitude” signal.

EchoGirl October 13, 2015 at 6:06 pm

I’m Autistic too and I just don’t think that’s the case here. An Autistic kid might accidentally rip a card (although some of those are pretty heavy-duty nowadays) because of poor motor control; the OP’s post (assuming it’s real) implies a certain amount of deliberation in the ripping that implies “spoiled brat” more than any kind of disability. (And yes, kids with disabilities can be spoiled brats too, but in that case the disability wouldn’t be the cause of the behavior.)

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Jazzgirl205 October 12, 2015 at 8:43 am

If this is true: OP, your children will have much happier lives and be much better human beings if they learn not to expect gifts on gift giving occasions. After all, the custom is to give gifts when someone else is having a birthday – not neccesarily to receive gifts if it is your birthday. We celebrate Xmas by giving gifts to others. The only reason we get gifts on Xmas is because others are celebrating by giving to us.
This saves us a lot of grief. Sometimes elderly relatives forget these occasions or downsize their spending. That’s okay. We still love them and know they still love us. Gifts are not an inalienable right.

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VickieS October 12, 2015 at 6:33 pm

This is a really beautiful way of explaining gifts and celebrations. I must remember it for when my small person is older.

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kylynara October 13, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Thank you for this. I’m definitely going to start using this with my sons. What a great way to explain it.

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Mary October 12, 2015 at 8:51 am

I call troll.

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Denise October 12, 2015 at 9:00 am

I can’t imagine this not being a troll or satirical piece. It’s too carefully worded to be to be genuine.

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CrazyChickenLady October 12, 2015 at 9:01 am

This letter sounds like it was written by the SIL. She may have composed the letter based on how she perceives her IL’s attitude towards her and possibly comments that have been made either directly to her or behind her back. It doesn’t sound like the woman who is supposed to be the OP hides her dislike of her SIL very well.

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Girlie October 12, 2015 at 9:03 am

Instead of teaching her kids to appreciate a simple card or spending time with their cousin/family, she is making them learn that it’s all about the monetary presents and nothing else! How sad. They could take all the cousins out to a fun day together and make that count as a “present” instead. Sad that her kids ripped through cards like that. Sigh.

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A different Tracy October 12, 2015 at 9:05 am

Yes, like others said, it’s got to be either a troll, or written by the “villain” to reflect someone else’s POV. “He’s only 9.” LOL!!!

But maybe we can use this entertaining little fiction as a springboard for a legitimate discussion? I’ve got to admit this is kind of a sore spot for me. We visit my inlaws (they all live in the same town) every other Christmas, and those are the only years we buy gifts for their kids. We have one child. My husband’s siblings have six. Obviously it’s a bigger addition to our normal holiday expenses for us than it is for them (not only six extra gifts, but the cost of our travel as well). And quite honestly, I get tired of it. And we’ve never really determined when the “kids” age out of receiving gifts. My 20-something year old nephew, who just had a child of his own, is still one of the “kids” who gets a gift from us, as is his wife. How does one gracefully end this tradition?

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Lo October 12, 2015 at 9:27 am

I intend to end my gift giving with a high school graduation present. After that the are one of the adults. Mine is a large family and there are always more kids being born. You get your turn for 18 years and then you’re on your own unless you choose to enter into a reciprocal gift giving relationship.

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Margaret October 12, 2015 at 10:34 am

I was lucky enough to have the oldest grandchild so I just said, “cut her off” at age 21. No one has objected and four of the grandkids (DD is my only) are over 21 now. We all also cut off gifts to siblings and in-laws. Cards and FB wishes are the norm.

Life is easier this way.

I also think the OP is a troll.

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AnaMaria October 12, 2015 at 8:18 pm

By the time I was 21, cash gifts were always nice (and were promptly spent on groceries or school supplies) but never expected, and anything else was just something to
Find space for in my dorm room and to pack and move at the end of the semester. Cards and phone calls were actually more preferable to me!

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A different Tracy October 13, 2015 at 7:20 am

Sadly, my child is the youngest, so I don’t get to be in the position of starting traditions! But good for you. 🙂

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Amy October 12, 2015 at 11:41 am

yep

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Amanda H. October 12, 2015 at 3:18 pm

This is how my extended family on my mom’s side does it. Names are drawn for the cousins and for the adults separately. Once you graduate high school, you also graduate from the cousin drawing to the adult drawing (in addition to sitting at the adult table at Thanksgiving/Christmas, etc.).

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Devin October 12, 2015 at 11:08 am

My father has a big family and we do a big Christmas Eve party with all the aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and now 2nd cousins. When my generation all got to be in high school, we stopped doing presents for all ‘the kids’ and started doing either a white elephant exchange or a funny theme exchange (as seen on TV was fun). That way everyone is buying one small gift and receiving one small gift. Newborns get 1st Christmas gifts from the family, so total everyone might buy 2 small gifts. Really the focus of our parties are food, games, and laughs. The big gift exchanges happen on Christmas Day within each nuclear family. My family usually does another small dinner/gift exchange with my widowed Aunt, her son (my cousin), his wife and his step-daughter. Money is never discussed and gifts are usually just token items (those knick-knack items you see and immediately thing of that person). I’m grateful that my extended family is relatively low on the drama meter.

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JC October 12, 2015 at 11:39 am

One my mother’s side of the family we have a 16 cousins and it gets expensive fast. Once most of us were teens we started doing a Secret Santa so everyone got one nicer gift rather than a bunch of little gifts. It still means that you are going to end up spending more if you have a lot of kids. The really little kids (now mostly my generation’s kids) still get more presents but it’s not organized or expected.

Over the years we’ve switched to more of an exchange game where people pick randomly and can steal each other’s selections. It’s really up to the person/their parents whether they want to be included with the grown ups or the kids.

It makes life much easier so instead of having to buy/bring 25 presents (cousins plus aunts/uncles, grandparents, great aunt), we bring 4. One for my grandma and one for each of us to go into the game.

I would say that your 20 year old nephew is an adult and should be treated like the rest of the adults. (This year my two little sisters are both no longer teens and I’m debating whether or not I should spend as much for them as would for the kids -$50ish or my other grown up siblings and their spouses -$25-30. Though most of the older sibs are married so a joint present is still about $50.)

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nannerdoman October 12, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Re. “aging-out” of gifts: My godmother sent me a little note with a gift when I was in college, letting me know that it was her custom to stop sending gifts when the godchild in question reached 21, and that she still loved me and prayed for me. This was really exceptional–my family moved across the USA when I was 4, and I have no real memory of this godmother, yet she still generously sent me gifts and cards every year until I was 21. I think of her with fondness, and we still exchange Christmas cards.

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Ripple October 12, 2015 at 12:58 pm

You end it when they become adults, as Lo says below. If you have only given presents to the kids, and not to anyone of your husband’s generation or older, then when the “kids” graduate, that’s the time to stop giving them presents. Your nephew has gotten a couple of extra years out of you, but now is the time to start giving to his child instead.

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Dee October 12, 2015 at 1:43 pm

A different Tracy – maybe you could try having “the conversation” with your in-laws. Or, better yet, your husband could have that talk. If Christmas becomes too much of a pain for you and your family then it loses its meaning, and that meaning is what you’re trying to preserve. If the in-laws take offense then your relationship with them wasn’t all that great in the first place and you only busted your illusions. But maybe they will see it clearly and you all will be relieved. Best thing we ever did was cut out all the “junk” leading up to Christmas – the things we didn’t want to do and the stuff we didn’t want to buy for people we didn’t want to buy it for – and it’s so much better now, even factoring in the grief we got.

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AccountingIsFun October 12, 2015 at 1:53 pm

I understand very well your situation. My husband and I are child free but love all of our nieces and nephews. On my husband’s side of the family there are only 3 nieces and nephews (i wish there was a gender neutral term for that), and they are great kids. On my side of the family, one sister has 7 children while the other sister has only 2. They are all great kids in their own way. Due to the volume, more from a sanity standpoint then anything else, I set a budget for all nieces and nephews that is age dependent. The little ones (under 10) have a $20 to $40 budget while the older ones have a larger budget of $40 – $50. It gets expensive, but Christmas is about giving. I used to feel really bad with Christmas. My husbands family the budget was way too low while with my family the budget was too high. I put quite a bit of thought into the presents I give, and it would be challenging due to both sides reactions, but I stuck with the budget number. I also often hand make parts of the presents since I think that it is more effort based.

Anyway – our families have started drawing names for the adults about 5 to 10 years ago due to the struggles of shopping during the season. Our “rule” is that once the niece or nephew is married, they get into the name draw. Also, if the niece or nephew is not at the holiday celebration due to being overseas on a mission trip or deployed, there is only a donation to their “go fund me” page for their airfares home.

That is the way we decided to deal with the volume of kids and when to treat them as adults, but your mileage may vary.

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Nicky October 16, 2015 at 5:05 am

The general term for nieces and nephews is nibling, although it’s not in common use.

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Nadia October 12, 2015 at 2:10 pm

A different Tracy: Girlie holds the solution, as I realized immediately upon reading her brilliant comment. For the birthday issues of the young ones, and the huge issues of the ”Holidays” — EVENTS. Let the EVENT of the family coming together BE THE PRESENT FOR EVERYONE. As one who is shockingly estranged from almost all of my own family members, and from almost all of spouse’s large extended family —- death, drugs, drama, and satan himself have wrought their effects —- those family events when we were all together, year after year, decade upon decade —- I can recall the random, fun, lovely gift here and there, but those memories —- spend those dollars on a beautiful piece of meat for everyone or whatever it is that the family, in all its varied interests will have so much pleasure together with.

Going with Girlie’s suggestion (in my interpretation) of a day out for all the kids, a fabulously fun picnic, NOT an amusement park requiring a layout of hundreds of dollars for ENTRY — soooo many ideas are possible that eliminate dollar for dollar comparisons of any kind.

If no one else benefits, OP, Girlie and A Different Tracy, I give you all my thanks for breaking this in-the-box mind out of that box and into realizing IT’S THE EVENT, and those there to make it an event, that are THE GIFTS.

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Lanes October 12, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Why does your nephew no longer deserve a gift, just because he has attained an age where he’s no longer considered a child?

I can understand the financial strain, so I’d simply suggest reducing the overall value of the gift, or move towards joint gifts shared between nephew and his wife.

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AnnaJ October 12, 2015 at 9:03 pm

Is the nephew buying gifts for his aunt and uncle? He’s an adult now, so he should either reciprocate with the giving or not expect a gift. It’s not about ‘deserving’, it’s about growing up.

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A different Tracy October 13, 2015 at 7:15 am

No, he’s not. (And honestly, with school and a new baby, if he did give us anything, I’d thank him profusely and then insist that he not do it again.)

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A different Tracy October 13, 2015 at 7:14 am

It’s not a matter of “deserving” a gift (if it were, I hope my nephew would be reciprocating, and giving us one as well). It’s a matter of the family having made the decision that we only give gifts to “the kids,” and DH’s/my generation not giving to each other. And the question is, at what point is he not a kid, and how can I gracefully bring this up?

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Goldie October 13, 2015 at 8:11 am

He shouldn’t any longer be getting a gift as “one of the kids” for the same reason my 80-year-old aunt shouldn’t be giving me gifts as “one of the kids”, even though she did 40 years ago – neither he nor I are kids anymore.

If there’s an adult gift exchange, he’s welcome to participate in that.

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Mojo October 13, 2015 at 3:10 am

18 in our family, then you’re an adult and it’s cards only.

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Michelle October 12, 2015 at 9:23 am

If this isn’t a troll, then the OP needs to do some self-reflection.

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metallicafan October 12, 2015 at 5:30 pm

Definitely. This is one of the most appalling things I’ve ever read.

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Ames October 12, 2015 at 10:08 am

As much as it seems fake, my cousin could have written the submission. There are real people like that in the world.
She thinks it’s sillly of me to make my daughter read each card as it’s opened.

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KarenK October 13, 2015 at 8:46 am

I have no doubt that there are real people in the world with this attitude, but what I can’t believe is that any would submit the story to EHell, and think that they would find acceptance!

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AS October 12, 2015 at 10:30 am

I got the impression that it is a troll letter too. It has every point checked, in an application to apply for a permanent residence in etiquette hell for gift-receiving.

If not a troll, well, the OP needs to sit back and look at her own behavior. Read some books about manners and entitlement. And the etiquettes of receiving gifts. Reading the archives on etiquettehell.com will be a good start. Look at the comment sections, to better understand why your attitude is wrong.

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Ashley October 12, 2015 at 10:39 am

I’m bored today so I’ll pretend it isn’t a troll.

1) Expanding families and cost is a perfectly valid reason to put stricter limits on gift exchanges. My family had to do it because the immediate family is now up to 13, and by next year will be up to 14 people.

2) “he had more fun with the box”. Depending on how old the child is, this could be perfectly true. When I was a kid, the box the toy came in was almost always as good as the toy. Because yeah, the toy is the toy, but the box can be part of a castle, or a space ship, etc.

3) He’s 9 and is tearing cards apart to look for more money? Good grief, my brother and I knew better than that by the time we were 5 and allowed to open our own cards.

I’m sure there’s more in here I’m missing but I can’t pretend this isn’t a troll post any more

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Cat October 12, 2015 at 10:48 am

I would think this is a false letter if I had not worked in the public school system and heard so many teachers complain about gift exchanges and how they did not receive the same dollar value of gift that they gave.
I have seen office workers insist on getting a co-worker an ice cream birthday cake for a co-worker who did not like ice cream cake and would not eat the cake they bought. They knew that before they bought it. They got it anyway because they liked it. “Happy Birthday, we know you don’t like this, but here you go anyway.” Weird.
I don’t blame SIL. Just send a post card. That way young Master Greedy will know there is no money inside.

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Lady Macbeth October 13, 2015 at 6:23 am

The phrase “young Master Greedy” put me in mind of Dudley Dursley, and he was 11 when we were first “introduced” to him. Now, that’s what I see in my head when I picture the OP’s kids, so I find myself smiling.

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Cat October 13, 2015 at 9:04 am

I loved the fact that Dudley would get a new bicycle and Harry would be gifted with a pair of used socks, a coat hanger, or one Kleenex. There is nothing like “subtle” message to make a lasting impression when you are a child.

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NicoleK October 15, 2015 at 11:57 pm

I never understood why the neighbors never called Child Protective Services on the Dursleys

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MamaToreen October 13, 2015 at 10:02 am

Cat, I used to work with people who would buy me Strawberry cheesecake for my birthday. Lovely. I hate strawberries.

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Cat October 14, 2015 at 3:05 pm

MamaToreen, I wish I could say that I am surprised. I’m not.
They liked strawberry cheesecake. What you liked was unimportant.

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ddwwylm October 14, 2015 at 4:32 pm

Ugh, I used to have a co-worker like that too. She loved a certain kind of chocolate cake from a particular bakery & would always try and manipulate to get each person’s cake from there. I distinctly remember her saying something to the group once like “everyone likes particular chocolate cake” and me replying, “no, not everyone, birthday person likes other type of cake & we should be getting what the birthday person wants”. Another time, it was known that birthday person really liked black forrest cake, probably should have known better than to let annoying co-worker get the cake, but she said she would get the type of cake birthday girl wanted. She showed up with – that’s right, her favorite chocolate cake & a can of cherry pie filling – because, that’s totally the same thing, smh. This is also the place where I got called picky for suggesting the types of foods & restaurants I liked for my own birthday celebration rather than wanting to go to a buffet place where I would never eat.
I’m so glad our director finally put a stop to birthday celebrations and lunches, it was always some drama with someone trying to push their preferences on the group rather than thinking of the birthday person, or blatantly unequal celebrations.

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Cj October 12, 2015 at 11:28 am

Wow. My friends kid just had his birthday. The musical card was so awesome, to him, he did not see the money drop down to his lap. After playing the card a few times he then realized he had money in his lap and was SOOOOO excited to have “real dollars”. I give kids a dollar for every year they turn until 10 then it gets doubled. Or will take them on an adventure. If they do not like it big deal, so sad for you. Gifts are gifts, not an exchange. wth?

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acr October 12, 2015 at 11:28 am

@ A different tracy – since they have a child of their own, simply gift their child. So you are still gifting their family. Your nephew might be completely graceful and in fact may have been trying to think of a way to say, “Uncle and Aunt, I’m 20 now,” but have been unable to think of a way.

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Lynne October 12, 2015 at 11:36 am

I also call “troll.” The detail that did it for me was “$20 including postage” contrasted with having agreed on $40 per child. 🙂

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A different Tracy October 13, 2015 at 7:16 am

Yes, I liked that particular detail!

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Jessica October 13, 2015 at 8:10 am

Thats what makes me think this is submitted by the SIL as a sarcastic post about the ‘OP’ She is whinging that the SIL doesnt want to spend $40 per child on gifts for MULTIPLE children ($120) but the sends the SIL’s ONE child a gift worth $20 including postage? nah has to be a troll.

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Cora October 12, 2015 at 11:44 am

Troll question aside, let’s deconstruct:
“In addition to this, my kids don’t care about cards. They generally tear them trying to get the money that’s inside them. ”
That is the core of the problem. OP hasn’t taught her children anything about the meaning of giving. So, actually, she is the problem herself: she needs to accept both her responsibility of teaching her children; and give up the snotty disregard for the SIL’s strict budget.
And the justification that the son who ripped a homemade card to bits looking for money is only nine? Garbage. That is toddler behavior at best.

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Anonymous October 12, 2015 at 7:35 pm

I wouldn’t call that toddler behaviour, because most toddlers don’t yet understand what money is. I’d just call it rude.

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just4kicks October 12, 2015 at 12:03 pm

I’m sorry, OP, but nine years old is, in my opinion, is way past the appropriate age to “rip through a card expecting money and pouting when there isn’t any”.
My children aren’t perfect angels, but they DO know what is waiting for them on the ride home should they display such horrendous manners in receiving a gift or card which may not contain what they were hoping for.
While they may be disappointed, they say thank you for thinking of me on my birthday/Christmas what have you.

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stacey October 12, 2015 at 12:52 pm

I agree that this is so over the top that it simply cannot be true. The stunned shock in response to reading such words is the mind trying to wrap itself around the question “is this a real letter? It cannot possibly be a real letter… who could be so immature and oblivious as to write such a letter? Surely it’s not…”

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Shoegal October 12, 2015 at 1:45 pm

I don’t know – I reread this post and I’m just shaking my head. Here are my thoughts:

The OP aka Troll posts that they sent a gift for her SIL’s child which totaled $20 including postage but the agreed upon amount is $40.

Then this Troll calls her SIL a materialistic woman when the SIL would like to bring an end to the gift giving. How is that materialistic?

A 9 year old is tearing apart a card – when I first read it I thought – my that’s too old for such behavior.

When you send a gift through the mail – you would like to know that it got there. I mean, right? Calling to make sure isn’t so off the wall, is it?!?!

The OP thinks it is too much for her kids to thank somebody for a gift and complains the SIL is telling her how to parent her children. Yeah. Ok.

None of this sounds right – or believable.

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Daphne October 12, 2015 at 1:54 pm

My advice would be that this family remove the $40 minimum from gift giving and everyone just send what they feel like sending. The “important” birthday rule is ridiculous, as is the notion that kids don’t care about cards. Your job as a parent is to TEACH your kids to care about cards, because at the end of the day it’s the thought that counts in gift giving, and the card represents the thought.

Bottom line is, unless people are sending inappropriate or dangerous gifts to your children, just keep your mouth shut about it. Continue to send what you want, and don’t worry so much about what everyone else is doing/saying.

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oogyda October 12, 2015 at 2:50 pm

I’m confused. The SIL is greedy and selfish, but the OP sent a gift that totaled $20 (including postage) instead of the agreed upon $40?!! Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle cookware?

And she goes on to call the SIL materialistic, when the OP is the one who insists on keeping up the *tradition*, so that they ultimately get more.

And she thinks it’s okay to allow her children to behave like greedy little oafs, ripping through cards and paper and not extending a thank you?

Definitely posted to the wrong website.

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Stephbwfern October 12, 2015 at 2:50 pm

I don’t even find pieces this obviously trollish funny. What a waste of time.

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Page October 12, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Although I think this is a troll, I’ve encountered attitudes like this before. A friend of mine was horrified that her mother-in-law expected her sons to sit quietly and take turns opening presents on Christmas. “They’re boys! You can’t make them sit still and be quiet!” Hence, I don’t spend much time with them.

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MamaToreen October 13, 2015 at 12:43 pm

We stated fairly young that everone opens their presents in turn, starting with the youngest

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Amanda H. October 12, 2015 at 3:17 pm

PLEASE let this be a troll.

I come from a rather large family. My mother was the oldest of eight children, six of whom all lived in the same county with their spouses and children. When I was very young, Christmas presents went to each child individually from each aunt and uncle, because that’s how they did things. This shifted a bit so that each married couple drew the name of another married couple and gave gifts individually to each member of that family (so anyone who drew my family’s name gave gifts both to my parents and each of my sisters and I).

By the time I (the oldest of all the cousins) hit about age ten or so, my youngest aunt (who only had one little kid at the time) asked if we could change things up so that instead of getting individual gifts for each member of the family you drew, you just gave one whole-family gift. No one complained, because everyone understood that this young aunt wasn’t trying to be stingy, it just got very expensive to buy lots of individual gifts for families as large as mine, or the individual gifts got extremely cheap to keep the budget small enough.

By my last year of high school or so, the gift routine had changed again per someone’s request so that all the aunts and uncles drew each other’s names and only had to buy ONE present for ONE person, and all the cousins drew each other’s names to do the same thing. Price limits were never set because everyone had the agreement that if you wanted to be the person spending $100 plus on a single gift, you shouldn’t be expecting the same in return.

With my sisters and I, we’re only just building up our families, and only two of us have more than one child so far. We keep birthday and Christmas gifts simple on principle, understanding that none of us have a huge budget to spend on nieces and nephews. We don’t make a fuss over gifts, and our kids don’t really pay attention to which relative has sent them birthday gifts (and I intend to keep it that way; my kids don’t need to start pitching a fit just because Aunt Soandso didn’t send them some trinket this year, because they still got a Happy Birthday phone call and all). When there are finally enough cousins, we’ll probably do the name-drawing for Christmas or something, which we already do among us siblings to keep things easy.

And my children, as others have mentioned, have been taught to open cards thoughtfully instead of just tearing into them. We point out the pictures on the cards to them and read the insides before we even reveal if there’s money inside (I actually slip it out while showing my younger kids the cards just to put the emphasis on the card and not the money). I can’t imagine ANYONE letting their children rip wantonly into cards, let alone a 9-year-old who should be old enough to know better, and trying to defend it as “they’re just children.” Children have to learn it somewhere.

But I’m seriously hoping this is a troll, because I just don’t want to believe that A. someone can be that materialistic as to think that $120 on gifts is their children’s “due” and that anyone who wants to reduce gift spending for budget reasons is really just greedy, or B. that someone would think writing this letter from a family member’s perspective (per the “villain wrote this” theories above) would actually work any better on this site. It’s just so over the top that just about everyone is going to call shenanigans on this one.

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Andrea L. October 13, 2015 at 11:34 am

I also come from a large family. My mother was one of 13 with over 20 nieces and nephews (and children of her own). If she gave all her nieces and nephews received gifts on Christmas and their birthdays, she and my father would be spending a ton of money. We exchange gifts with our godparents and not the other aunts/uncles. Depending on the relationship, the exchanges can go into adulthood. I still exchange gifts with my godparents because we are so close.

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Meri October 12, 2015 at 3:19 pm

I give it a 50/50 chance that it’s a troll or written by the SIL. Not that there aren’t people who have horrible attitudes, but they usually describe themselves in a such a way as to sugarcoat their attitudes more.

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Ellex October 12, 2015 at 4:08 pm

You know what always bugged me as a kid about writing Thank You cards?

I would catch bloody hell for not writing a thank you card. “KIDS NEED TO WRITE THANK YOU CARDS HARRUMPH!”

But no one – not a single soul – since I was a wee child (especially when I was a wee child) ever wrote me a thank you note for the gifts I picked for them. I never got a thank you card from my grand-parents, aunts, or uncles. These are now the same people who like to post on FB about how “kids these days” have no manners. I never received a thank you card in my *life* until my friends started getting married and sending thank-yous for shower and wedding gifts.

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A different Tracy October 13, 2015 at 7:18 am

Pod. Maybe kids would learn to write thank you notes if they received thank you notes.

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stacey October 13, 2015 at 8:33 am

I agree… a pass for writing thank you cards (or using “please”, “thank you”, and “excuse me”) isn’t the prerogative of either the young or the old.

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Michelle October 14, 2015 at 10:37 am

Yes, yes, yes, yes!! I had to write a million thank you cards and never got one until I was an adult!!!

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Chipmunky October 12, 2015 at 4:16 pm

I see no where in this post where OP states her brother and SIL are multimillionaires or lottery winners. Did she stop to think perhaps they’ve hit some financial troubles and need to cut back in some areas, despite having fewer children?

Additionally, OP, your kids sound old enough to at least act as if they are interested in the card rather than ripping it to shreds in a money hunt. I’m shocked SIL hasn’t sent an etiquette book or a “write thank you notes” book as an unsubtle gift to your family. Perhaps she could have worded her concerns over gift buying better, but you sound exceptionally rude and demeaning.

For the record, my cousin is a teenager now, and my mom and I have stopped sending gifts. Not because we don’t like the child- because we are tired of spending time and money to send a gift that is not acknowledged via a phone call or email, much less a hand written note. You may find as your kids age, the gift giving river dries up due to the lack of some basic appreciation.

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Wolfie October 12, 2015 at 4:19 pm

How interesting that the letter writer insists that her SIL spend $40 per child, but isn’t spending more then $20 in return.

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Jade October 12, 2015 at 4:39 pm

I’m torn on the troll question. I think to myself ‘surely no-one could be that socially inept’ and then I remember; actually, yes they can.

Also what stood out to me (assuming this is legit) is that after going on for forever and a day about the ‘agreed’ monetary value of the gifts, the LW freely admits that she ‘cheaped out’ by sending her niece or nephew a gift which only cost $20 including postage. So really the LW has nothing to complain about, they appear to have received the $120 worth of gifts they felt they were entitled to in exchange for a measly expenditure of $20. If I were the SIL I would be ticked too that the thoughtfully chosen gifts and cards I sent were treated so shabbily by the LW’s children.

In my family there has been a long tradition of buying Xmas gifts for all the “kids”. As the youngest of these alleged kids is now 22 and just joined the Air Force, we are attempting to phase this out, or at least transfer it to the next generation who are all under 10, but we are getting resistance from some of the alleged “kids” who still want to be opening multiple gifts on Christmas Day well into their thirties. So the spirit of materialism is alive and well (you should have heard the response I got when I suggested that instead of gifting another ice-cream maker or set of bath towels to each other, that we donate the money to a worthy charity) and the LW needs to take a long hard look at themselves, because these attitudes they are displaying are no doubt being passed on to their kids and it’s not going to serve them well in the future

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NostalgicGal October 12, 2015 at 4:48 pm

This sounds extremely trollish. I remember opening cards properly ( you could either jog everything to the end and carefully tear off the stamp end downwards, aka teeny strip, or use a nail file or letter opener and with card face down (writing and stamp down) rip it open along the top edge, removing the paste down flap edge. Just ripping a card open wildly by school age would have had the card and I parted and whatever was in it I wasn’t getting. Plus I’d be writing, if mom had to dictate it and spell it to me, an apology for ripping up their nice card so I was returning the (whatever was inside).

I had many cousins I exchanged with, (Christmas) and I gave as well as got. I had to budget and there was (equivalent of $5-10 each now) limit per one, but I received same level of gift. I was in the middle of a 10 gap between generations, so younger than the older ones, and older than the younger ones, I had to exchange with the younger ones. The exchanging ended for me when I left for college except my mother kept up the two charm bracelets (out of the gaggle I got two girls finally, so I bought sterling charm bracelets and a charm (the first year was expensive) then I bought them a charm every year….. If one sister in the gaggle can’t handle the gifting then just stop it flat out. I was taught to give as well as receive and I did indeed plan out my gifting and such. If I could have this down by the age of eight or so, and she can’t handle it at whatever age. Then just go, fine, forget it, and we ALL AGREE TO STOP, no additions, changes, or pout/whine/sulks.

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EchoGirl October 13, 2015 at 6:39 pm

To me, your story feels like swinging the pendulum too far to the other side. No, kids shouldn’t intentionally rip cards but accidents happen and I don’t think anyone, especially a kid, should be punished for a mistake (though it’s a good teaching opportunity as long as the teaching isn’t presented as punitive). But there’s a lot of difference between an accident, even one caused by being a little overexcited, and the deliberate callousness of ripping up the card itself looking for money (as opposed to accidentally ripping the card while just trying to open it).

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tNostalgicGal December 30, 2015 at 11:15 pm

I watched a younger cousin rip cards in envelopes purposely in half until he found out if a check (then rip carefully) or cash was in the card.. The contents were extracted and the card tossed to the side. Who care who sent it or what it looked like.. Just what was inside counted.

I think this kind of ripping is the kind meant as inappropriate. Trying to open a card properly and ripping the envelope weirdly, that happens to all of us. Or learning how to jog what’s inside the card to the side then rip an edge or use a letter opener (we always used one of those metal nail files). Now accidentally ripping the card in half along the fold with a nail file, now that was an oops.

If I had ever done what my one cousin did, rip the card and envelope in half just to get the contents, is where I would have been parted from all of it and got to write the apology and send the whole thing back.

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Abby October 12, 2015 at 5:11 pm

This is most definitely a troll. No person, I don’t care how rude, would write into an etiquette site and call someone else rude for expecting a thank you card.

That, or the LW is the mother of the one child, was rebuffed by her in laws when she suggested doing away with gifts, and intensely dislikes her husband’s sister. Christmas must be so fun with this extended family.

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iwadasn October 12, 2015 at 5:13 pm

There’s no way this isn’t a troll post. Her son rips up homemade cards because he’s so desperate to get his greedy hands on the money? No parent would be that oblivious.

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Lexie October 12, 2015 at 7:31 pm

My mother would have annihilated me at age 9 if I hadn’t been careful and gracious about a birthday card, money or no money.

And FORTY DOLLARS on each child?! I grew up in Aus in the 90s, so inflation and the differing dollar, but the only time my mother spent more than twenty dollars each on her nieces and nephews was when she was buying them a group present. It just seems like a large amount of money to spend on toys. And yes, OP, forty dollars is going to be hard to stretch to three apparently spoilt children if that so-called forty is actually a twenty.

Can I just say I am so tired of ‘s/he’s only AGE!’ as a defence against bad behaviour? Children learn by doing – correct that behaviour. We’re raising a future generation of entitled, angry adults because no one ever taught them the social skills needed to navigate life!

I was about 12 when my mother and godmother threw their hands in the air and each bought something themselves and slapped a ‘love from godmother’ on the present rather than spend money on postage.

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Wendy October 13, 2015 at 6:20 am

Sometimes the s/he is only… Is a valid excuse so long as parents step in to teach. For example you can’t expect a 2 year old to know not to point or make inappropriate comments there entire internet lists of some rather funny ones. The important thing is that the parents step in, they don’t punish said child because they are only 2 but do educate them “No darling we don’t point it’s rude and you’ll make the lady sad”. It becomes an issue when it’s an excuse to do nothing for example the 2 year old points and says something inappropriate and parent laughs and does nothing.

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Pearlcat October 12, 2015 at 8:38 pm

I doubt this is a troll. I can somewhat see SILs perspective. I am not married and childless. I have a total of 5 nieces and nephews among two sets of siblings of mine. December is particularly expensive as three have birthdays in addition to Christmas. I don’t mind getting my nieces and nephews gifts. However, While one sibling is quite generous at Christmas with me and makes a point of calling me the other isn’t. That doesn’t really bother me but getting a thank you call, email, or a call anytime would be nice.

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Karen L October 12, 2015 at 8:46 pm

Yes, troll, and not a particularly good one.

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SleepIsabella October 13, 2015 at 1:06 am

The greedy mother demanding $120 calling someone else materialistic and even so far as selfishly claim their own brother divorce someone over something so trivial is beyond comprehensible. And by comparison, the SIL sounds like a saint.

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Rebecca October 13, 2015 at 1:40 am

This story is totally fake. Nobody is that greedy. Right?

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Marozia October 13, 2015 at 5:15 am

You reckon……?

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Lady Macbeth October 13, 2015 at 6:28 am

Wrong, I’m afraid. The world is full of all sorts.

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MamaToreen October 13, 2015 at 2:00 pm

If only

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Mojo October 13, 2015 at 3:13 am

I too call ‘troll’, but if you actually know someone like this, you have my sympathy.

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Marozia October 13, 2015 at 5:14 am

Yes, I agree with Admin on this one.
Seems to me that OP is rather indignant about her three children and and SIL’s only child.
Let SIL do what she wants……OP..you do what you want. If you want to give SIL’s child money, do it, if not, don’t.

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crebj October 13, 2015 at 6:14 am

As the caissons go trolling along…..

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Shoebox October 13, 2015 at 6:35 am

Troll, troll, trollity-troll. As others have said, it’s way too carefully written, with every little detail obviously designed to set off an etiquette site’s alarm bells. If it is the wronged SIL getting some private revenge, I can sympathise, but wish she’d post a less passive-aggressive follow-up when she’s calmed down a bit. 🙂

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shhh its me October 13, 2015 at 9:13 am

My first instinct was written by SIL not troll , assuming so yes its fine to stop the gift exchange just stop the exchange before your child receives their next gift. I will add though; If you’re getting resentful for spending $120 on gifts and only getting a $20 gift in return , you can either lower the amount or stop exchanging gifts and maintain the relationships with effort and time not gifts. If your sister inlaw was offended by a silly and common joke I’d recommend apologizing for the offense. Not because the joke was offense but because it honestly wasn’t your intention to insult her and I’d stop making jokes.

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Angie October 13, 2015 at 9:59 am

I agree it sounds like a troll…not because people don’t act like this (my SIL could have written it hands down about me..with different details), but because you would have to be completely tone-deaf to turn it into an etiquette website and the details are just too carefully arranged.

We had similar problems about Christmas. DH and I were the last to get married and have children. We cheerfully gave to nieces and nephews for years according to family custom, but as soon as we had children, buying gifts was too expensive and took too much time and the whole tradition was ended when my children were 1,3,5…and the nieces and nephews were 12-19. Now, we don’t get so much as a card or birthday wish from any of his side of the family, and while it makes me sad that they won’t know my kids and my kids won’t really know their relatives (who only live 45 min away), I can’t change other people….

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Lindenharp October 13, 2015 at 11:11 am

Troll. Definitely troll.

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Arizona October 13, 2015 at 11:23 am

Did anyone else catch that OP, oh-so-offended that SIL doesn’t want to spend $40 per child, only spend $20 (including postage!) on the last present sent? Perhaps there was a card with the other $20 also included, but I can’t imagine that OP would neglect to include that detail when they’re so careful to note everything else that makes them ‘good’ and SIL ‘bad’.

Assuming this isn’t a troll post, OP is a greedy monster raising more greedy monsters. Tearing cards in your hurry to get at money? Quickly, OP, teach your children some respect for gifts before it’s too late. And teach yourself while you’re at it. I can forgive a little rip from the enthusiastic youngsters, but by age 9 you should well know to slow it down when opening a card. The money isn’t going to vanish if you don’t see it in 2 seconds. And suppose it had been a check and that had been torn? I’m sure that OP would have a whole WORLD of complaints, then, too.

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JO October 13, 2015 at 6:03 pm

This.

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JO October 13, 2015 at 6:02 pm

Yeah, I smell a troll. Especially since facts don’t even add up. She says her SIL only has one kid, that’s her choice, her one kid vs OP’s 3, blah blah…but it the opening statement she says very plainly that the reason they claim to no longer be able to afford gifts is because she is having “another” baby. I suspect this was written by the SIL in question.

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Reboot October 14, 2015 at 10:53 pm

The reason she gives is that “my sister” is having another baby – i.e. that SIL has two sisters-in-law, one of whom is the OP who has three children and one of whom is the OP’s sister who has at least one child and is expecting another. So that’s five kids to buy presents for as opposed to SIL’s one. I’d assume (if this isn’t a troll) that SIL also called OP’s sister to make the same request vis-a-vis gift-giving, but that since OP’s complaint is about -her- children being slighted (or possibly because Sister agrees with SIL), it hasn’t been included.

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