This is a story from last Christmas that stems from my parents’ good intentions that put me in an awkward position. My brother (my only sibling) got married in the summer of 2015, and we were looking forward to having his new wife join us for Christmas. I live three hours from my parents and they are a good plane ride away, so only I came home for Thanksgiving. While I was home, my parents told me they had talked to Brother and SIL on the phone and agreed to no Christmas gifts this year. Brother and SIL were both in graduate school, I was teaching at a charter school (with great kids but horrible pay) my dad is retired and my mom was preparing to retire, so it made sense for us to forgo the gift exchange and just enjoy one another’s company. I had been budgeting for gifts but decided I could invest my meager savings elsewhere.
Christmas Eve rolled around and I picked up Brother and SIL at the airport, and then we made the trek back to my parents’ house. We walked in to find the house decked out for Christmas, including a pile of presents under the tree. At first I thought maybe my parents had just decided to get some token gifts for traditions’ sake, but then my SIL opened her suitcase and added two more gifts to the pile- one for my parents and one for me. It turned out to be a very nice handbag- of course I appreciated the gift, but I was mortified to not have anything to give, especially to my new SIL. My parents had made up the story because they didn’t want me to spend money on gifts. I know my parents meant well, but I was also irked that they had decided that I couldn’t afford gifts and had robbed me of the joy of giving.
The funny part is, I quit the charter school and took a public school position this fall, which was a pretty big pay increase. It will be just me and my parents this year (Bro and SIL are celebrating with her side of the family)- and they tried to pull the no-gifts stunt again! I’m beginning to wonder if they think I am careless with money or that I can’t make ends meet because I am a single woman? We are a family of teachers, so my parents know that, while the salary isn’t extravagant, it is manageable!
I did finally drag out of them that my dad would like some tools and my mom would like some cooking utensils. Then, they pointed to a $75 cat condo and asked if my CAT would like that for Christmas. As if I’m going to believe they are forgoing gifts but spending $75 on my cat! 1206-16