Dear E-Hellions. I am looking for honest feedback, so please read the following story and tell me what you think. I truly apologize for how long this is. Â
This year I invited my mother and step-father to celebrate Christmas with my family (myself, my husband and our 3 children who are between the ages of 1 and 6). I like to try to get unique and thoughtful gifts because I enjoy the challenge of finding something within a reasonable budget that I feel the recipient would like, however I was finding it difficult to think of something my step-father might like or need. I phoned my mother to ask her any ideas for what my step-father might like, just so I could be pointed in the right direction. She said, “Oh nothing. Don’t worry about that. Christmas is really about the kids now.” I replied with, “It’s so true. It’s so much fun to watch them open their presents that I wouldn’t be sad if there was nothing under the tree for me! Plus I get to play with them and all the new toys too!! So,…. I’ll get him a gift card to his favorite coffee shop. She then said not to worry about it and we ended the conversation.
I wasn’t happy with the idea of getting my step-father a gift card because it is usually not my style, so I went to a store and made he and my mother a basket of goodies that was filled with their favorite treats that would be reminiscent of the area in which we grew up (they are moving back to said area in 3 months, which is all the way across the country). It had a bottle of Sea Salt, Salt Water Taffy, Fudge, Maple Syrup, Sea Salt Atlantic Canadian Chips, Second Cup coffee K Cups for their machine, oven mitts and pot holders that match the decor of their cottage, gluten free biscotti, and a picture frame containing a picture of all of the grandchildren which were all wrapped in a lovely fabric box. I felt that this gift was thoughtful because I had hand selected all of the items for a specific reason. I also remembered my mother telling me not to purchase anything that they would have to pack so I thought if I bought treats and small items it wouldn’t be a problem.
To be honest, I have had some issues with purchasing gifts before. A few times I have purchased gifts for my mother that did not go over well. She would say, “Are you serious? Come on, now!”, and would slam the gift down (once it was a book that she wasn’t interested in). Another time when I was a teenager she didn’t receive any stocking stuffers. I thought my step-father was filling her stocking and he must have thought that I was going to…. needless to say Christmas morning was completely ruined and that year we opened our presents in an awkward silence.
Flash forward to this year. I felt the need to warn her that the present I bought them this year was something that wouldn’t take up much room when they packed to move back to the East Coast. I also told her that I had hand picked everything. I think I must have known that it wasn’t going to go over well. I’m in my late 20s and I felt like a child tip toeing on egg shells. She brushed it off and said, “It’s fine!”, with a smile.
Christmas morning they opened the gift and I started to explain why I chose each item and she said, “Oh! I get it, it’s all the things representing home!” I was so relieved as they smiled and began looking the items over.
On the 27th they left (even though they told us they were staying until after New Year’s day). They had tried to leave boxing day but there was too much snow so they left in a huff early on the morning of the 27th. I was dumbfounded. She patted me on the back to say goodbye and then left. A few minutes later I went to fetch something in the cupboard and saw that she had given me back most of the items I had given her for Christmas.
Here’s the message I received from her the next day via text message:
Mom: I look around your house and we have been very generous to you . I would appreciate that you would have gotten a proper gift for Karl . He is the same man that watched your kids when you had Sarah , drove you where ever you needed to go . This was very inconsiderate and he deserves to be treated better.
Me: I literally thought I had put some thought into the gift I gave you both instead of just getting Karl a Tim card. I felt it was very hurtful that you left it here in the cupboard. I am sorry you felt the need to do that.
Mom: I’m sorry but that was unacceptable . Take a look under your tree, people treat you well. I have given close to $6000.00 worth of furniture for your house since you have been with your husband. We are kind-hearted, please don’t abuse people’s generosity . Karl has been good to you .
Me: I am not abusing people’s generosity. I have given you many nice presents over the years as well. I asked you for suggestions for Karl and you said “nothing” so I tried to come up with a basket of East coast treats. I understand that it failed. My intent was not malicious. My intent was not for you or Karl to feel the way you do right now.
Mom: I said to get him a gift card to Tim Hortons.
Me: But leaving it at my house was unnecessary. It was an intentional act to cause me hurt.
Mom: No I left before I lost it.
Me: You left the present before you lost it?
Mom: You are not going to make a mockery of this. Don’t push me too hard right now. I tried to ask you politely.
Me: I can’t do this right now, Mom. I am detaching myself. I am sorry you feel this way.
And then I blocked her number.
What else could I have done? I know it was probably immature of me to block her but I have had a lifetime of this sort of behavior and worse. I’m not sure what to do. I feel hurt and I know that she does, too.
It’s so sad when material items have greater priority than the actual relationship. Even if you had given an inappropriate gift, the gracious thing for your mother to have done would have been to concentrate on how pleasant your hospitality was, the good intent of the giftgiver, how much she loves you, how delightful it was to see her son-in-law and grandkids, how nice the Christmas day meal was, etc., etc.
Unblock your mother lest you become known in the family as the evil person cutting mom out of your life and should you ever exchange gifts again, you now know to give Karl a large denomination gift card to Tim Hortons. And frankly, I’m ornery enough to suggest you wrap it in increasingly elaborate wrapping and packages every year. If it’s gift drama they want, you can certainly accommodate that in very flashy ways with the prettiest bows and wrapping paper.
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Mom didn’t suggest a gift card, OP did and Mom replied “don’t worry about it”, so it’s unreasonable for Mom to turn around saying “I told you to get a gift card.” :/
Since it seems like you’re friendly with Karl, I’d try to bypass Mom and talk directly to Karl about it, if you think he’s more reasonable about this kind of thing. Obviously he’s seen Mom’s shenanigans as well, by your stocking example, but you know him best and there’s little here for us to gauge Karl’s temperament by. Maybe you and Karl can come to an agreement, assuming he’s reasonable, about future presents and just leave your Mom to be mad about it, since it seems that whatever happens, she’ll be mad, so just expect it.
I’m sorry, but I would have had to block OP’s mom, too. And I’d leave it blocked for a good long time–maybe until the kids are grown up enough to not risk them being influenced by this nasty petty woman. She was over-the-top rude, and according to OP, this is a pattern. Next year, if you are speaking by then, I’d tell her you’re focusing on the kids and so no adult gifts will be given or expected, and let her buy her own perfect present.
This answer is almost exactly the one I would have given myself, except that I would consider having Christmas somewhere else so she can’t look around your house and get all upset. Your mother needs to outgrow her drama queen attitude, so it is better if you stay cut off for a while so you can both cool off. If you really wanted to be snarky, you could get them a huge elaborate present next year and explain to your kids (in front of your mom) that you are sorry, but you couldn’t afford presents for them this year. As I said, snarky and evil! I have to wonder how your mother gets along with the rest of the family.
Exactly. I always get frustrated with admin’s, “They’re family, don’t be known as that terrible person who cut them off.”
Guess what? I cut my father’s family off a long time ago and I am SO glad. They do think of me as a terrible person, but I don’t care. They’re wrong and I was in the right.
If I was OP, I also would leave that mother’s number blocked for a long time — possibly years. You’re right, she could have a significant influence over those poor kids.
Wow. That gift was so considerate and thoughtful. This year my family didn’t have a lot of cash. I made my mom a knit hat and she bought me a Kitchenaid mixer. I can’t imagine her being anything but sweet and gracious even though there a huge gap in the monetary value of our gifts. She wanted to give me that gift and didn’t expect anything in return. I’m the same way. I actually get embarrassed by gifts, I’d so rather see other people enjoy opening their gifts. I’m sorry you had to go through that on Christmas, but at least now you know. I’d have been over the moon if I’d received your gift!
Wow! Our family is so different. We send gifts if inspired; if not, no big deal, and there is no checking to see that gift giving is going both ways, and it usually doesn’t. Some years (like this year) we’ll send my parents something; some years we won’t… and the same the other way. Once, my aunt sent us something for the house, but that didn’t at all set up an expectation of it being annual; we sent her something on a different year. Everyone appreciates gifts and sends thank-you notes when gifts arrive, but nobody expects gifts… it’s quite random whether we send gifts or not (maybe 1/2 of the years we send a gift to closer family, 1/5 of the years with more distant). The kids do get gifts from their grandparents every year, but not necessarily from aunts/uncles. This year I didn’t send my nieces anything because nothing really struck me, but last year we sent them some very well thought out books I was sure they’d love (and some itunes gift cards).
Your mom does sound like she has deeper issues surrounding gifts. I wholly second the idea to tell her that you’re not doing adult gifts anymore. (I wouldn’t ask her; I’d _tell_ her.) If it causes a problem with grandkid gifts since she feels it’s unfair, I’d cancel those too, so it’s clearly written in stone that no gifts at all are exchanged, ever.
I do see your mom and stepdad as a social unit… I myself wouldn’t give him a gift card to replace a joint gift that was rejected, but it depends on your relationship with him.
Any possibility that you can repackage your items and donate it to a charity auction? They _LOVE_ gift baskets like you’ve created. (I used to volunteer for an auction, and we had to solicit/create the baskets… I know how costly it can be to make one!)
I’m sorry you have to deal with this tough situation! I hope you can see that your mom is collapsing due to some missing internal scaffolding; it’s not you, at all. It probably looks/feels/seems like it is, but you’re not lacking in any way.
Both sides are off on this one. I feel for the LW as mom seems to be a difficult person to please. Mom should of just said thank you and then shared the treats with people back home. The fact that she left a few days early because she was about “to lose it” makes me wonder if she has anger management issues that perhaps justify the LW cutting Toxic Mom out of her life. The LW, who admits to having gift giving issues, perhaps needs to realize that it ins’t about the giver, but the receiver. It’s understandable that gift cards aren’t the LW’s style, but sometimes those plastic rectangles save time and heartache. Everyone wants to be a holiday hero, but not everyone needs one.
I’ve encountered many people like the OP’s mom throughout my life, and dealing with them makes me want to scream. Basically what I’m getting from the post is that even though the mom insisted multiple times that the OP not bother with a gift, the OP still chose to offer a very thoughtful gift, and the mom was incredibly insulted because she didn’t feel the gift was enough to compensate for everything that she and Karl had done for the OP’s family. Mom appears to be the type who expects repayment for acts of generosity, which always inevitably leaves the original recipient in a perpetual state of debt and always seems to damage the relationship in some way — which is why I try to avoid these people as much as I can. Also, mom’s passive-aggressive style really irked me. To your face, she insisted everything was fine, only to complain later once she had left and then act like she couldn’t bear to discuss the matter any longer once you (politely) called her out on her poor behavior. Sounds to me as if she knows very well that she was in the wrong here and is trying to avoid the situation in a passive-aggressive way to make herself look like the victim.
I agree with the moderator here completely. I wouldn’t cut ties because knowing Mom, she will make you look like the villain. Just go ahead and plan on giving a Tim Hortons gift card every year without burdening yourself by trying to choose a more thoughtful gift.
This is truly sad. I think I would unblock the phone after a cool down period. Then I would tell Mom that in order to avoid further misunderstanding in the future, you’ve decided it’s best to not to exchange gifts in the future. If Mom and Step Dad want to give gifts to their grandchildren, that’s up to them, but there is to be no gifts exchanged between the adults. Period, no further discussion. If they start pulling this kind of stuff on the kid gifts, same response. BTW, I disagree that Step Dad is not a part of this manipulation, OP says that “they left in a huff” so clearly he went along with it.
Don’t unblock your mother. It sounds like she has a history of this and you’re better off without her.
I’m afraid I disagree with Admin as far as getting Karl gift cards to Tim Horton’s going forward–your mother doesn’t want gift cards to Tim Horton’s any more than she wants any other material gift, what she wants is the sad pleasure of feeling WRONGED. The only reason your mother is upset with you is because your gift was TOO thoughtful, and thus made it harder for her to play the martyr role, which seems clearly to be what she relishes. I feel so blessed to not have a mother like this, but my grandmother was, and I saw how she tried to control and denigrate others through this game.
It sounds like this is a lifelong pattern with your mother, OP–what especially stuck out for me was your description of your mother’s childish behavior the year she didn’t get any stocking stuffers–“needless to say Christmas morning was completely ruined…”
Your mother has your sense of healthy family relations so twisted up by her sick behavior that you actually believe that it goes without saying (i.e., is “needless to say”) that Christmas would of course be RUINED by the absence of stocking stuffers for a full-grown adult. But that really DOESN’T go without saying–healthy adults don’t throw tantrums over presents. The fact that your mother behaved that way is extremely outside the norm–she is clearly not a well-adjusted person, and it sounds like she makes you a prime target of her bad behavior. You sound like a sweet and lovely person, and I hope so much that you don’t let your mother’s mind games affect your sense of yourself as a thoughtful, excellent daughter and stepdaughter.
Agreed – you’ve hit the nail on the head. “…what she wants is the sad pleasure of feeling WRONGED. The only reason your mother is upset with you is because your gift was TOO thoughtful, and thus made it harder for her to play the martyr role, which seems clearly to be what she relishes.”
You’ve hit the nail on the head. Wise words and good advice!
BTW, I haven’t received stocking stuffers since I was in high school and the fact that an adult woman threw a tantrum and ruined Christmas over something so petty just makes me mad.
Wow. No. Your gift was very thoughtful and your mother sounds crazy and manipulative. I wouldn’t blame you for cutting her off, at least for awhile. She is 100% in the wrong.
I agree with clairedelune. Mom is a victim and addicted to the drama. I have a mother like her.
Hey, me too!
It sounds like she needs things just so-so. Maybe it wouldn’t matter what you got her, she was cocked, and ready for a fight. I recognize the type you’re dealing with. They can never be pleased, and any attempts are deemed lame. Trying sometimes makes it worse than not trying at all. It sounds like either way your mom set you up for failure.
From now on I wouldn’t stress out about gifts anymore. Just get whatever is convent for you, or limit the gifts to the kiddos only. I’ll also agree that no healthy adult would act this way toward gifts.
With the furniture comment she made I’d be tempted to offer to give the furniture back to her. You shouldn’t have to “pay” for a gift through emotional abuse.
Your mom is not kind-hearted. Kind hearted people do for others without expectations or demands. Some people see the world only in how it relates to them, and how they can get the most out of it. It’s too bad.
I’m not one to suggest cutting ties, but I’d start pulling back. And next year, if you wish to celebrate with them at all, I’d proactively say flat-out “We just want to keep it to the kids this year” and get their agreement.
I’m so sorry, OP. I’d be hurt beyond belief.
Like many, I would encourage OP to stop exchanging gifts with her mother and stepfather. I imagine that her mother will pitch a fit, but explain your decision calmly, well in advance of the holiday, and stick with it. The only potential negative is the impact on the grandkids, whom grandma might be tempted to skimp on, but OP and her kids will be better off without gifts freighted with so much emotional baggage.
I have a related question, though, about what kinds of gift expectations of children are reasonable. My stepson is 15, lives with us full time for the past five years, and has never taken the initiative to get me or his father gifts for the holidays. Some years I have made the effort to prod him to get a gift for his father, which normally means taking him to the store on Christmas Eve and paying for the gift myself, and sometimes his father does the same to get him to buy a gift for me. But this year he made no effort, and neither of us parents forced him to get something for the other parent. I wasn’t surprised Christmas morning, and I certainly didn’t throw a hissy fit to ruin the whole day, but I am disappointed that he doesn’t even think about doing something nice for us for Christmas. I’m not looking for something expensive, or even particularly insightful, but just something to show some effort, reciprocity and generosity instead of a gimme, gimme attitude. If all the commenters here seem to think that the OP’s mother was so ridiculous for demanding stocking stuffers, am I being equally ridiculous to want a small gift for Christmas?
I think what you’re saying is reasonable, especially since as one of his parents, you have a responsibility to teach him values. By encouraging him to get gifts for others, you’re teaching him an important value. And receiving a gift *from* him would be meaningful not just for the sake of the gift itself, but as a sign that your efforts to teach him generosity and thoughtfulness are having some success. Although the other question is whether he has means of buying gifts in the first place–does he have any kind of income?
It is the role of parents to teach their children. One of the things that children need to be taught is that gift giving is a two way street. It isn’t about being greedy, as a parent, it is about teaching the child a lesson in life. In your case, you and your DH have tried. It hasn’t taken yet, but it may as he gets older. A lot of times people are surprised at how kids who were a bit self indulgent in their teen years grow into mature adults at around their mid-twenties. The example that you set, and the lessons you attempt to teach him may take some time to sink in.
In the case of the OP, the mother pitched a fit because her stocking hadn’t been filled. It was never said that OP didn’t get her a gift, only that the stocking wasn’t taken care of. The mother just comes across to me as being pretty childish.
my family gave my youngest brother gifts until he was 18. when he continued to refuse reciprocating gifts with us, we stopped. now he does not participate in the gift exchange on any level. natural consequence.
My older brother never gave anyone in the family gifts for any holiday. He just didn’t bother. He did expect us to give him presents. It just never occurred to him to give anyone else anything.
I did get him to split the cost of a gift with me twice. I gave up after that.
Your husband needs to have a talk with his 15 year old son.
It sounds like the 15 year old is simply self centered – which is completely normal for someone that age. But it’s time to start pushing him to mature into the type of man you know he can be.
Something along the lines of:
“You’re becoming an adult. Part of being a good adult is thinking of others. Considering what you can do to make them happy and make their lives easier. Taking responsibility.
Start doing things around the house without being asked: taking out the garbage, loading/unloading the dishwasher, mowing the lawn, scrubbing the bath tub, mopping the kitchen floor, vacuuming the living room, etc… because you live here too and you want to live in a nice, clean place where you won’t be embarrassed for your friends to visit.
It’s only a few years until you go off to college or move out on your own. Like most people, you’ll probably need a roommate for the first several years of adulthood. So cleaning up after yourself and taking part in keeping the house looking nice are invaluable habits to start now. They will make you a sought after roommate and better prepared adult. Before you go to bed each night, make sure you have done at least one thing to help keep up this house you live in.
Also, if you aren’t sure how to clean something, let us know. We’d be happy to show you how to scrub the oven, wash windows, clean the gutters, etc…
So when you have your own place, you will know how to take care of it.
Same with cooking. If you learn a few dishes now, you’ll always be able to feed yourself which is MUCH cheaper then eating out. (The food is better too.) In fact, why don’t we make a night each week where you’ll do the cooking. Let’s say every Wednesday, you’ll make dinner for the family.
Finally, presents. You know how much you enjoy it on your birthday and Christmas when you get something awesome. Something you’ve been hoping for or something that surprises you? It is also a great feeling to GIVE something you know the other person is going to love. When you are a kid, you get the joy of Santa bringing you things. As an adult, you get the joy of BEING Santa.
So here’s a box (or jar, or Tupperware, just some handy container) and every time you get money (allowance, mowing lawns, after school job, what ever) put a couple bucks in here.
Then when my birthday, your step mom’s birthday, your best friend’s birthday, your girlfriend/boyfriend’s birthday or Christmas is coming up, you’ll have some money to buy presents. Take time to really think about what people might want. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just put some thought into it. You’ll see how rewarding it is to give a gift from the heart.”
I am printing this out to read to my ‘awful’ self-entitled, spoilt nephew (‘awful’ as his older sister is also as spoilt as him, but she is almost generous to a fault with her time and abilities) his parents are digging him a very lonely hole for not expecting him to pull his weigh to the same extent they expected his sister too at the same ages, ie: tidying up her toys from a toddler, dishes at age 8, her own laundry at 13 etc.
In my close family Christmas was the gift giving season of the year. From a small age I was taught I had to save up and buy presents and GIVE too if I wanted to receive gifts. My DH’s side wasn’t quite as elaborate, they had a lot more kids, but. He was amazed at I thought nothing of buying my grandfather (we were both working) a nice small microwave oven and a special set of microwave safe dishes (we had just lost Grandma) and Grandpa was having a bit of a time of feeding himself.
[unfortunately they homed him after I bought the gift in late November so I got him some things the staff said he needed and gave the stuff to DH’s goddaughter as she was going to graduate. She’d always been remembered but.) If I didn’t want to buy gifts fine but I wouldn’t be getting any either.
He doesn’t want to give? You MIGHT try fine, then you don’t want to receive either.
Did he exchange with his mother? Did he ever exchange while they were a family. Did he ever exchange with his father before he came to live with you? That could be some of it, he was never taught to give to receive….
Doesn’t sound like you threw a tantrum about it and ruined Christmas, so now. Feeling disappointment is fine, behaving like that is not.
Opposite of my family- I live three hours away from my parents, and my brother and his wife live a good plane ride away. I came home for Thanksgiving and asked if they knew what my sister-in-law might like for Christmas, since they were making the trek to my parents’ house. My parents said that we had decided no gifts this year- bro and SIL were spending money on plane tickets and my parents were spending money to entertain all of us for Christmas, so they didn’t feel a need to exchange gifts. Fair enough.
Of course, the three of us arrive on Christmas Eve (I live near an international airport so I picked them up and drove to my parents’ place) and find a pile of gifts under the tree, including one from bro and SIL to me. Apparently, my parents didn’t want me spending money on gifts because they knew money was tight- it IS tight, but I could have come up with something on a budget. I appreciate that my parents didn’t want me feeling obligated to buy gifts, but I was embarrassed to be empty handed in front of my brother and his new bride!
Wow. Sorry to hear you went through that, I hope it didn’t totally ruin your holiday. 🙂
Last year, (my husband and I really don’t get gifts for each other, we buy something we need/want for the house) we got my folks a Keurig coffee maker and one for ourselves.
Fast forward to two months later and its still in the box in their dining room.
I mentioned it (nicely) and said “Oh, I thought you wanted one of those!”
No….No we do….
Fast forward another month, when I retrieve a voice mail complaining how much those Damn “K cups” cost , and they don’t have any with Kona coffee from Hawaii!!!!
Umm, you’re welcome?!?
They need to find them on sale, it’s really not that hard…now you know to get them K-cups for every present though 😉 “Happy birthday, K-cups!” “Happy Anniversary, K-CUPS!!!”
Pssssssst also tell them they have those filters where you put regular coffee grounds in them, boom boom boom. That’s all my mom ends up using her her Keurig I bought her a couple Mother’s Days ago, unless I’m like “Found Starbucks K-Cups on sale…here’s a load of them.”
K-Cups are best for folks who drink a cup or less a day, expense wise though. I have the same box from two months ago when my dear BF was coming over for breakfast, I had to rush out the night before because I was like “Oh LOL no coffee because that’s how much coffee I drink at home.” Doh! I guess they would be spendy if you go through a dozen cups in a couple of days 🙁
@Becca: Thank you for the suggestions, but after a few weeks they dug their old Mr. Coffee pot and began using it again. Sigh.
But…they gave the Keurig one to my son when he left for college last fall, and he and his roommate used it a lot.
Some folks just aren’t cut out to have the newest gadgets, at least they kept their old coffee pot!
So glad it found a home where it’s appreciated and not just their cupboard or Goodwill shelf.
@Becca: Thanks! I didn’t mean to come off as a petulant brat, but for a few years prior, we were going through some tough times and were really happy to buy them the latest, greatest coffee pot that year.
And yes, my son and his roommate got a LOT of use out of it, so it had a happy ending.
I don’t know if it’s because of my mom’s age or what, but the stuff that flies out of her mouth sometimes just floors me….not that I’m the poster child for class and grace. 🙂
Nothing to do with the subject at hand, but I once took my kids up in the summer for a sleepover and drove my mom to Mass the next day before we left for home.
I still don’t know HOW the subject came up, but all of a sudden my mom is telling me (in graphic detail!) about her and my dad’s sex life now that he has MS.
I almost drove off the road and said “Mother!!! We are on our way to MASS!!! I REALLY do not need those images in my head at church!!! Geez, Louise…..”
We use the reusable cup with our own grounds. The only time we use the disposable cups is when we have guests over.
@Mary: we just started doing that ourselves, since there are now five people (my husband, myself and three of the kids) who drink coffee.
We were going through a box of k cups in one day….it got to be very inexpensive…not to mention coming down quite a few mornings and all the K cups were gone.
Could one of you kids PLEASE give me a heads up when you use the last one???
….got be very EXPENSIVE….that should’ve read….oops
I just could never understand why Keurigs and Kcups were worth it back when they first came out, were ‘hot’ and I could still have caffeine. At best was get some chocolate milk and put one or two spoonfuls of Folger’s instant in and stir.
A number of friends got the things and I said are you out of your flaming mind (sometimes cups were $1 each) then I found a source for cheap reuseable fill your owns and gave those as gifts.
Hear, hear. A gift is a gift, it’s the intent that counts, but TBH I’m very much not a fan of the Keurig, for a number of reasons; and wouldn’t know what to do if I received one as a gift. You cannot just keep it on your counter, where it takes up space, and keep buying the cups you don’t want, for no reason other than that you don’t want to hurt the feelings of a family member that you got it from. I have a stovetop coffeemaker and the taste of the coffee is just so much better. I’ve tried using the exact same coffee with a disposable K-cup and the taste is not the same at all.
I wouldn’t go as far as leaving a VM full of complaints for the gift giver, but I probably wouldn’t be able to keep up the appearance of using the Keurig, either, to be totally honest. I’m glad they were able to find it a new home!
Sorry, REUSABLE K-cup. Not a disposable one, which 99% of them are.
Not that it matters now, but there are plenty of Kona Kcups available.
I read this and I would not unblock mom. It is not childish; it is self-preservation. Mom puts a price tag on gifts, demands that you give as good as you get and feels she has the right to punish you if you don’t.
I would not play games by wrapping a gift for him in elaborate wrappings. I would make it a rule that no adult gift over twenty dollars is to be given. I would not discuss it with her or try to justify what I gave him.
Mom has a history of having histrionics if a gift does not suit her fancy at the moment or if her stocking is not filled with gifts. I would tell her that such behavior is unacceptable in my home and I will not permit her to behave in that way. If she cannot behave as an adult, she will be asked to leave. She may storm off in a huff and you will not see her for years. You will find the holidays much more pleasant without her.
I came from an abusive home and I had to sit down with my parents when they thought they were going to abuse me as an adult in the same way that they abused me as a child. Sometimes lines have to be drawn. You will be treated in whatever way you are willing to accept. Don’t accept being abused.
Reminds me a bit of my mom and how she is always eager to be the victim. Even if she has to outright lie to everyone to get that status.
I don’t think I’d block the number but I would teach myself not to respond to every message. The whole, you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. Ignore unimportant messages, respond only to messages you need to respond to and if she asks why no response; “sorry, things have been so busy, kid had x issues and I forgot to come back and respond.”.
Something that helped my big time with dealing with my queen victim mother was to pity her. How sad that she is so desperate for attention that she actively pursues pity attention. How sad for her that she has no integrity. How sad that he bad behavior has run off any family or friends. I can’t fix her so I don’t try and I minimize my contact but I can pity her desperation, bad attitude, lack of positive qualities, etc.
You’re a better person than I am. I would be packing up the thousands of dollars of furniture and any Christmas gifts on a truck to send back to mom and Karl COD with a note that said “I didn’t realize your love was conditional”, or “I wanted your love, not your stuff, thanks for nothing”. It might not be the best of manners, but it’d be a damned satisfying way to burn a bridge.
IN the real world, though, I’d just not accept any more gifts from them ever again, even if you are in desperate need for help. “Thanks mom, but you said no gifts so I won’t be accepting this.” Start a new family tradition for the kids that doesn’t have a price tag attached to it. Instead of getting gifts from grandma, maybe grandma can take them to the zoo, or a special day at the park or something that reeks of quality time.
Or maybe for the next gift giving event send them an overpriced gift card for therapy.
You took the words from my fingers Galatae! I too would be packing up ‘their’ furniture for them to collect. Gifts should come with ribbons, not strings.
I love this quote “Gifts should come with ribbons, not strings.” Definitely stealing this!
I don’t know that I’d be packing up the furniture and shipping it back, though. (A) it’s now “used” furniture, (B) shipping it would cost a small fortune, and (C) sending it back to them when they’re about to move would be passive-aggressive.
I think I’d live on beans and rice and oatmeal for a while (if necessary), so I could reimburse her the $6000 ASAP. Then resolve to never accept another gift from her. If she offered to pay for any other major items, I’d say “Thank you, but I can’t afford your gift.”
Okay, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again–reciprocation doesn’t always have to be tit for tat, in exact dollar amounts, or else nobody would interact with anyone outside of their socioeconomic class. This doesn’t just apply to gift-giving; it applies to hospitality as well. So, if a parent gives a child a new bicycle or an iPad or something for Christmas, and the child gives the parent a homemade Christmas card or ornament, that represents the child’s best work, then that counts as reciprocation. If a mother and stepdad give their adult child furniture or something to set up a new house, and the adult child gives them a thoughtfully-compiled gift basket of items they’ve enjoyed in the past, that’s also reciprocation. In the movie Richie Rich, when Richie invites a group of middle-class kids to his house to go swimming, and ride go-karts, and play video games on the big-screen TV, and do other things that rich people do in schlocky, formulaic 90’s movies, and the kids then invite Richie Rich to play sandlot baseball with them, that’s reciprocation as well. In this case, the OP’s mother is offended because the OP put thought and effort into her Christmas gift for OPMom and Stepdad Karl, but she didn’t A) Come close to the dollar value of the furniture they’d given her (probably because she couldn’t afford it), and B) Didn’t buy separate gifts for OPMom and Karl (which would have been silly, because it probably would have resulted in two identical, smaller gift baskets with the same items that were in the one large basket she gave them). I understand why OP wouldn’t have wanted to give her stepdad a Tim Horton’s gift card for Christmas, though–they may be useful, but they’re impersonal. That’s the kind of gift you give to an office Secret Santa recipient you don’t really know, or as a thank you gift to your cleaning lady, or to all the members of your hockey team or church choir or whatever. It’s a token gift that says, “I don’t know you, but I have to buy you a gift, because it’s a Non-Optional Social Convention (TM).” A more personal gift, like the OP’s basket of items tailored to OPMom and Stepdad Karl’s tastes, says, “You’re important enough to me to put some thought and effort into this.” So, I can see why the OP would block her mom after a long pattern of unappreciated gifts, and while keeping her blocked forever might be overkill, maybe she needs a “time out.”
OP, since you’re an adult with a family of your own it’s time to sit down and think about how much your mother means to you. What does she bring to your life, besides being the woman who raised you? Do you have countless memories of her being upset with you, over things like the gifts you have given her? Does she hurt you in other ways? Do you enjoy your mother at all? Is she good to your children? Is she good to your spouse? What would life be without her toxic, tacky ways?
You don’t owe her anything at this point in life. You have put all you can into your relationship but now your living a life that doesn’t need her in most ways. Will she sore the rest of the family against you, will they even listen to her or do they know she’s like that and to tune her out?
At this age, I understand the struggle far too much. My own mother is wonderful but I’ve seen so many friends have to handle their own abusive parents into adulthood. The happiest ones at our age are the ones who understand “family” is how they treat you, it’s not who birthed you or who wants to hold what they’ve done for you over your head.
My mom bought me my first couch when I was living in an apartment with essentially a beanbag chair for furniture. She just bought me an incredibly nice tv this year because I’ve been using a tiny tv that you still have to juggle because the back is so large with all it’s business sticking out back there! She does it because she cares and that’s how she shows it. I cannot imagine what it would feel like to have a mother who felt I was in debt to her because of what she had decided she’d gift to me. In your mothers mind, you owe her, she didn’t gift you anything, she loaned it to you, waiting for you to pay it back with interest in the form of something she deems of value.
Do not feel the need to unblock her, let alone let her back into your life at all. Shelter your family from someone like this. What if she does this to your children when they’re old enough to gift her things she doesn’t seem to think is good enough? “Well GrandDaughter, you gave Grandma this picture frame you picked out? Well what about all those big expensive toys I bought you growing up? When are you going to get me something worth all the time I put into spoiling you as a child?!”
They come back for your kids often. Just keep that in mind. Think long and hard about it.
Maybe you think “She’s only mean to me, I can deal with it, what about my kids, they need their grandma.”
Do they? Will they find out how she is to you down the road, do they know about it now? Do they see how you get tense around her and her visits rile you up because she gets in a huff and storms out a week early? Your kids don’t need a grandma who hurts their mom. I disowned my dad’s mom for that exact reason and I disowned one of my mom’s brother’s for similar reasons. He never hurt me but he physically assaulted my mom when I was a kid. These are not people you should hold onto when they just claw and scratch while you try to hug it out.
What Becca said exactly.
I call people like this The Unpleaseables. No matter what you do, it’s not right. My mom is like this, too, but fortunately, not in the realm of gifts.
If someone says they don’t want anything, let’s just give to the kids, then they don’t get to complain if you don’t give them anything. They can be disappointed, because you should have knooowwwn that they didn’t really meeean that … but they don’t get to unload their disappointment on people who took them at their word. Instead, they should reconsider saying “I don’t want anything” in the future.
If they are given something anyway, because the giver wants them to have *something* to open on Christmas morning, they definitely don’t get to complain that the gift wasn’t good enough. Good enough compared to the “nothing” they asked for?
OP, did mom and Karl give you and your husband anything? If not, she may have felt awkward and embarrassed about accepting your gift, and decided to leave it behind rather than tell you so on Christmas morning. That’s unlikely, though, given her track record with receiving gifts, her past willingness to make a scene on Christmas morning, and her tirade about your alleged “ungratefulness” and “ungenerosity.”
You can’t win with people like this. So don’t play. No more gifts for her or from her — not even for the kids. She’s ruined enough Christmases for you with her childish behavior; do you really want her to do that to your kids?
Dear OP, I understand. I have been in your situation and have several similar stories about my mother. Like you I tried really hard, but I felt like I was fighting a loosing battle. I thought I was loosing my mind until my oldest sister sought help from a therapist who recommended a book titled “Stop Walking on Eggshells.” It is a book to help people cope with individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder. It was a God send! For your peace of mind (and sanity) and for the sake of your spouse and children, please seek professional help for how to deal with her behavior. I wish you the best.
Read my mother this story. She does not swear.
She made an exception for OP’s mother.
Love this comment! LOL
Wow. How hurtful. I’d not want to give either of them a gift ever again. If you still want them around next year, or if any gift-giving occasion ever comes up again, just say, “Look, let’s not exchange gifts this time as it seems to create more stress for everyone.”
Honestly, I just cannot imagine any member of my family behaving that way about gifts, so I cannot imagine what I would do other than not have them around if they did.
Give them both gift cards to the stores you know they love. Then mum can’t whinge.
It sounds as if Mom wants to dictate what kind of gift Karl receives because of the past generosity she has shown your family. I would stop accepting things from her, like furniture, if they are not given for fun and for free. I once had to refuse an offer of $900 from my parents to help us out of a serious tax situation because they attached too many strings. Now it is understood that gifts are just gifts.
That reminds me of some friends of mine. Mom offered to give them the down payment for their first house, but only her name could go on the deed. They would make all the payments and she would own the house. They told her no and came up with the down payment on their own.
I’m glad your friends didn’t fall for that.
WHAT. People just never cease to amaze me.
Good heavens! OP, your mother sounds like a huge drama queen, and a very entitled one to boot. Her behaviour was unbelievably rude and selfish, and if I’d had such an exchange of messages with my own mum, I would have been left fuming with hurt and frustration.
While I probably wouldn’t actually block her number (just in case of emergency), I would certainly stop responding to her messages and I probably wouldn’t speak to her for a good long while. Honestly, she sounds positively toxic, and you and your family don’t need that in your lives.
Your gift, by the way, was a lovely, thoughtful and generous one. If this had happened to me I’d be tempted, next year, to buy a gift card for Karl that he’d enjoy using, and get my mother a gift card to the most boring, generic store I could think of. And I wouldn’t invite them to stay again unless there was a sincere and significant improvement in her behaviour. Ugh, I’m actually quite angry on your behalf.
Don’t feed the drama llama.
If it helps you maintain sanity…keep her number blocked. When you unblock her, do it with the understanding that she will be blocked again if she resumes acting this way. If you continue to do Christmas, take her at her word and get NOTHING for either of them. And, don’t accept anything at all from them from now on.
And I have to disagree with Admin…leaving her blocked might make OP the “bad person” of the family, but those who know what her mom is like will understand. Even mothers deserve to be cut when they treat you badly.
This sounds like something my mother would have done. Which is why I stopped giving her gifts long before she died. She never appreciated ANYTHING. I can’t speak for the various husbands and boyfriends she had; I never got gifts for or from any of them, so that was never an issue. But nothing my mother received from anyone was every good enough. Life is too short to obsess over trying to please people who can’t even be bothered to give you hint as to what they might like, much less agonizing over whether or not they offer thanks. Turn your attention to your husband and kids, and teach your children to express appreciation for every single gift they ever get, whether they like the gift or not. There’s no need to hurt people who are trying to be kind. Shame on your mother.
As for blocking her, I don’t blame you and if she asks why (assuming it ever registers with her that you did so), tell her why. If other family members give you a hard time about it, tell them you have your own reasons and you owe them nothing by way of explanation.
Sounds like your mom is setting you up for “gift failure” – she will never give concrete suggestions and no matter how you try or what you spend, she can label herself as thoughtful and generous and you as uncaring and ungrateful.
In that sense, I’d say you gave her exactly what she wanted for Christmas.
My parents are/were ungrateful lunatics too. I think your gift was lovely, but that’s because I’m not a drama queen pouting because something wasn’t good enough or too expensive.
As for your mother, you may as well unblock her after a while. Admin is right , you won’t be the hero in the wider family circle. As for the future, I don’t know what to advise you to do. She won’t change and probably won’t accept that she was in the wrong (and not even recording conversations will change that: these people have very selective hearing). All you can do is accept that and let her live het life on the other side of the country.
(Sorry if I missed it, but what did Step-dad think of it?)
After all, it was a gift for him.
The opening salvo, about how Karl’s gift, didn’t merit an answer. How about “Hmm, thanks for mentioning it,”, and then going on to another subject?
I gave my brother chocolates in his stocking this year (in addition to the main gift) and he left them behind. He had space issues in his bag. I think in general food can be hard to schlep around and is often regifted.
I disagree with admin. If this is how Mom treats you keep her blocked. My mom used to always cause drama till I finally said enough and cut her out of my life. My stress levels have gone way down. If OP’s mom is as described most people won’t think OP is the bad guy for blocking her. Trust me.
Right there with you.
I’m sorry to hear about the OP’s experience. It sounds like your mom has strings attached to the things she does for you (and expects you to read her mind and jump through hoops to to please her). She has a history of being rude and causing drama when she doesn’t get what she wants for a present. It sounds like she is very self-centered and expects to have her high demands met and pouts like a spoiled child when they are not met. I do agree with unblocking her, but I would avoid future gift giving occasions with her. Your kids deserve better holiday memories than seeing grandma throw a temper tantrum because she didn’t get the gift she wanted.
OP, first of all, I am so sorry this happened to you. It sounds like you put a lot of thought into this gift, spent what you could and frankly, that should be enough.
My advice: keep her blocked. The people who mind don’t matter, and the people who matter won’t mind. And understand that her gifts aren’t gifts’ rather, conditions for you to reciprocate in the same amount. And don’t worry about gifts for her in the future–I wouldn’t buy anyone this ungrateful anything ever again. Finally, I wouldn’t accept anything from her in the future…except an apology.
My kids are the oldest of the numerous grand kids. Last year, DS was 19, and received gifts.
This year, he stayed home for work. DD, aged 18, received…NOTHING.
Explanation? Oh, we no longer do gifts once you are 18.”
I had no knowledge or input on this decision.
Since we are the only family that has to travel (1000 miles) that may have been the last Christmas and we’ll just stay home next year.
Also, I was asked to pick up the pre-ordered dinner To Go. For 15 people. Was told I would be paid back. Did not happen.
So, while it was fun seeing young nieces and nephews, and my siblings, the “walking on eggshells” at mom’s house was just enough to be done with all the travelling.
My siblings liked the idea of coming out to us next time. It may not be Christmas, but any time would be ok. Since Mom and stepdad do not like to travel, and have only been to this state once in over 20 years, for a funeral, odds are good that we may have a lovely time without her around!
OP, just let it go. My DH used to tell me to have LOW expectations. He has edited that to have NO expectations about Mom and treatments.
Happy New Year and good new decisions!
Setting an age to cut off gifts is reasonable. My relatives generally cut off nieces and nephews at age 16. However, it’s well known that that is the case. We don’t wait until Christmas morning of the year they are 17 to let them know about it.
I can see extended family members cutting off or scaling down gifts at a certain age, but I have to say, for university students living in residence, a lot of “scaled-down” gifts would be REALLY useful. I know teenagers are hard to buy for, because they want fancy electronics and brand-name clothes, or items for specific hobbies that cost more than toys (for example, proper art supplies instead of a cheap plastic case of crayons, markers, and pencil crayons), but university students are much easier to please. When I was in university, and living either in a single room in residence, in an apartment, or in a smallish sharehouse with a handful of roommates, I would have been thrilled to receive something like a big pack of socks, or a pair of slippers (or even dollar-store flip-flops), or laundry detergent pods, or cookware/kitchen supplies, or really anything that most people already have in their houses and take for granted. I remember the year I moved into the apartment-style residence, and my mom got me a silverware set like this: http://www.bhg.com/shop/gibson-gibson-home-20-piece-harmonica-rainbow-flatware-set-with-hanging-rack-p343df911235b4fad7850baaa9949be7f.html. It wasn’t expensive, but I really liked it–it was practical, and it also added a pop of colour to my new kitchen.
Gifts are not important! Don’t break off with family just because of gifts. To treat gifts as the most important part of Xmas – to break with family because of it – is just plain wrong. My elderly FIL and his wife did not always give dd Xmas gifts but sometimes they gave her very nice ones. DD didn’t get upset when they didn’t give her anything. It’s really no big deal. They’re just things.
Years ago, a friend would give a Xmas party for the old college gang. Every year people at the party would exchange gifts with some of the other guests. Some guests received more gifts than others. I only exchanged gifts with 2 other couples and they us. However, everyone bought gifts for all the children invited. One year, the host invited a woman with 2 children. No one knew them or knew they would be invited except the host. When people started exchanging gifts, the woman threw a fit because no one had given her children gifts. It didn’t matter that she brought no gifts or that we didn’t even know her or know that she would be there. I handed the children $5 each. I know the children were disappointed but she could’ve used the situation to explain that they didn’t give gifts and they are not always going to get gifts and that was okay because they had played with the other children, sang carols, made friends, and had eaten a lot of good food and candy. Instead, her fit taught them that they were owed gifts from strangers.
She isn’t breaking off family because of gifts, she’s breaking off because her mom is manipulative and playing games
Recent sadness of a different sort. Brother (divorced) , sister, brother has two girls (older one you can’t trust your pocket around and she’s been caught repeatedly and wonders why she can’t live at parents, grandmom’s or her aunt’s anymore). Mother has Alzheimer’s and they are trying to care for her in her home yet. Previous Christmas sister put the presents for bro’s list (he was moving, okay) and every gift her mother supposedly gave on her CC. She hasn’t got a dime back and Mom honestly believes she bought the presents herself (she didn’t) so she doesn’t owe her daughter anything. Sister told brother he’s had a year and she hadn’t seen a cent so unless it’s their house burned down, forget her loaning him a cent until she gets that multi thousands back that she loaned HIM (she’s written off getting a cent from mom). This year’s Christmas was the mother getting a pair of slippers and a house robe, brother and sister exchanged zero, brother got a token gift from older and younger daughter, the girls went in on the slippers and house robe (brother didn’t). Sister bought the younger niece(as she hasn’t graduated yet) a small gift. (older niece owes her aunt a few thousand she stole while she lived there for awhile) Sister got zero. Except. I sent her a box of stuff, we share some of the same hobbies so I sent her hobby stuff. THAT WAS HER GIFT else she would have gotten zero. It just happened that the mail system was bogged for the season and she got it just before she went over to do family doings (they open Christmas Eve). I’m glad I (accidentally) saved my friend’s Christmas.
While admin is right that if you leave your mother blocked, she’ll make you out to be the villain, I rather suspect she may do so anyway. It is more important that you keep in touch with other members of the family, so they know the measure of you. Let her rant and rave; there is nothing you can do about that. But keep your head held high. Be the better person. People will see.
Do not unblock mother. I feel like you’re leaving out a lot of stuff about what she’s like, and you haven’t gone no contact because of this – you’ve gone no contact because this was the final straw. I’m guessing your mother often uses money or gifts to emotionally blackmail you (“I gave you x, you’re ungrateful to not to y for me!”), expects you to be constantly available to her, and thinks has the right to say hurtful things to you and then calls you abusive if you try to tell her those things hurt. Also, no one gets to have anything that’s more special than what she got, or otherwise she’s clearly not loved?
It sounds like no contact might teach her that there are boundaries she cannot cross with her bad behaviour. I would also talk to stepfather – tell him your mother told you not to worry about a gift, that you put a lot of effort into the basket, and that your mother told you he was hurt by the gift. Most likely he will defend her behaviour (or at the very least go “that’s just how she is, you should try to get along”…) but with any luck he will reassure you and tell your mother to stop speaking for him.
Also, tell her that you will no longer be exchanging gifts. At all. Not for birthdays, not for christmas etc etc. Clearly it’s more stress than it’s worth to you, and clearly she can’t be happy about what she gets. You’re adults so gift giving is unnecessary at this point anyway. Also, this way she gets to tell people how horrible her daughter is for not getting her a gift, which I’m sure will make her very happy!
Do not unblock mom.
It’s time to examine the relationship you have woth your mother. This kind of behavior over gifts is a huge red flag for emotional abuse, as is your nervous fear throughout the opening of the gift and your mother’s odd monetsry tallying of how “well” she has treated you. I have a feeling that there’s more to this than just the gift, else you would not have given her the sudden cut direct over a childish response to a gift.
There are many online resources for children who were raised by emotional abusers. It’s hard to recognize the sickness of that relationship sometimes because from the outside everything looks solid and the abusive parent often gaslights the victim into thinking THEY are the ones constantly at fault (which, ding ding ding, is also found in your story). Reddit has a fine support network in their raised by narcissists subthread, as well as a good list of resources.
You don’t have to cut her out forever, but take some time to think about the relationship and whether or not strong boundaries will salvage things or if it would be better for you and your family to cut contact completely.
Good luck, OP.
Sometimes it is necessary to cut the toxic people out of your life, and you shouldn’t be worrying about what other members of the family think about this action. Do not be bullied by your mother.
I respectfully disagree with the Admin on this call.
Your mother is a narcissist. Ruining a Christmas Day for over an unstuffed stocking? don’t make me laugh. She makes you walk on eggshells, withholds approval, and even casts her husband as the “fall guy” for why she insults you over your gift.
These are all classic symptoms of narcissism.
blocking her (otherwise known as “going no-contact”) is the only cure for this disease.
Set up your boundaries now, honey, and never, EVER, let her degrade you again.
when I cut off contact with my own mom, it was akin to shutting every door in my home except for the polite front foyer. That is the best analogy I can give you.
Keep your precious interior life far away from her.
Get help at the subreddit /r/raisedbynarcissists.
You are not alone.
Nope. I would be done with her for awhile. I let my parents control me emotionally for YEARS, and they messed up my kids too. It’s not worth it. I have never in my entire life told one of my children their gift wasn’t good enough. That is so mind boggling it is insane. Your mom keeps score, and trust me, you will never come out on top. If you finally give her something she likes, she will totally be set up for disappointment the next year. AND there is no way a lady in her 20s can afford the gifts a woman in her 50s can give. I call BS. The fact she ruined Christmas because she didn’t get stocking stuffers when you were younger tells me she associates love with money. Pass. Run, do not walk to the nearest exit. She needs therapy, not Christmas presents.
Im so sorry OP.
Giving gifts is one of my greatest joys. It sounds like you put alot of thought into your gift and her actions were rude and very ungracious. I can also understand not wanting to give a gift card as I find them cold and not personal. Your mother’s bahaviour sounds horrid. Im very close with my mother, and I can’t even fathom her treating me so poorly – I think if she did it would crush me to be honest, so I understand your dilemma.
I would let her cool down and hopefully she would get some clarity on her poor behaviour and how she made you feel.
Sending good energy your way and hopfully your can work things out.
OP, I want to be on your Christmas list!
This is emotional abuse. I’m so sorry you had to go through that, OP. The fact that OP’s mom mentioned that people treat OP well and that OP has nice things etc shows a very ugly side of her–being envious in the worst way of her own child. I think blocking works for a while. You don’t even have to unblock –$20 says that she’ll find some other way (through other relatives, or email, or etc) to continue berating OP, because that’s what abusers do.
There is nothing you could have done that would have made her happy. Nothing.
I too have an insane family. The most powerful words I ever spoke to any of them were “I’m sorry you feel that way.” It spells it out, for you and the person to whom you are speaking, that it’s *not your problem*. You can’t fix it. After you’ve figured out once and for all that the Crazy Person Will Always Bring the Same Drama, you can finally choose not to respond. She leaves a week early? Smile sweetly and thank her for visiting. She insults your gifts? Tell her you’re happy she enjoyed them. Has a tantrum? “I’m sorry you feel that way.” If every incendiary statement is met with bland pleasantries, no answer at all, or the answer that deflects back to her, there is no more argument. Don’t unblock her until you are able to calmly detach.
Sorry but the mother sounds psychotic.