- Jun 2003
- Dec 2003 Archive
I was teaching in a school when one of the teachers approached me for
money for a double baby shower. Two former teachers were expecting and she
wanted to throw them a shower. Two manila envelopes were kept in the main
office so that people could put in twenty dollars for each teacher towards
a gift. After you put in the required amount of cash, you put a check next
to your name. Not knowing the teachers well I opted to stay out of
the gift giving and shower. Upon afterthought I should have at least
ticked off on the envelope as a giver so the teacher throwing the
shower would not come after me.
The day before the shower the said teacher came in my classroom and
ASKED me for the money. I thankfully had no cash but she insisted a check
would be fine. Sigh. Since she was the wife of one of the school directors
(the couple is a very kind couple but I guess the wife lacks the etiquette
on these things) I was coerced into giving forty dollars to the teachers I
did not know. Now forty dollars is not a small amount of money for
teachers especially since they get paid so poorly. I'm talking 20,000 +/ year.
I asked her what the school was buying them to which she replied that
the expectant mothers did not need anything and she would be giving them
the cash as a gift. I was invited to the shower which was the next
I wondered how we were going to attend a shower when we were teaching
our classes. Turns out that during our "free period- the time we have
to correct homework etc during the day" was when each of us, by
ourselves, would go to the main hall and get food.
I went to the said hall. The expectant teachers didn't even thank me
for my gift nor I believe spoke to me. They were too busy talking amongst
themselves from what I remember. The food laid out to bring
down to my class to eat were the leftovers. Seems the party had already
happened and we were there to get leftovers. And No I never received
thank you cards for my cash gift.
One of the girls at our church (K) was expecting her second child.
The children would be 12 years apart, so she felt a shower should be held
in her honor. When no one offered a shower, she approached a friend,
Lou, to hold the shower for her. Lou was reluctant and quite frankly, put
her off without giving her an answer (in other words, that was her
answer). K, apparently, was absolutely blind to this.
Suddenly, a month before the day that K had asked Lou about having a
shower, invitations arrived at most the ladies of the church group's
homes inviting them to a shower at Lou's house, given by Lou and someone
else. First Lou had heard of it. Personally, this was one time when being
one of those not on "the list" did not hurt my feelings at all.
I had been at group meetings where these invites were being passed around
and laughed at. Lou is a dear friend of mine who had called me the minute
the invite showed up in the mail screeching about what the devil was she
going to do?! And to make things even better, K had included in the
invitation a printed list of suggested gifts-most of which were not baby
shower related at all, but things she and her family wanted (ex.
membership in the local zoo, gift certificates to various
restaurants). Not to mention that K had not invited everyone
in the church lady's group. Therefore, there were people slighted. And of
course, everyone was looking at Lou as though this was all her
No one would have ever imagined at that point that K had sent
these awful invitations. As a happily non-invited person, I spent the
month doing damage control for poor Lou. Not knowing what else to do,
now that her name was smeared all in this mess, she went ahead with the
shower. And no, she never heard from or laid eyes on the other person
whose name was on the invite. Of course, all of three people showed up.
K's sisters and mother did not even come or send gifts And can
you imagine, K's feelings were hurt that no one showed up!
My mother threw me a baby shower when I was 6 months pregnant with my
first child. She wouldn't allow me to help with any of the planning and
preparation, so I was totally out of the loop about what was going
About 2 months before the shower, I started getting emails from my
grandmother asking me when the shower was, if she was invited, what the
sex of the baby was (we didn't want to find out, and I told her this...
for the fifth time already), and saying that we needed to get invitations
out soon. Of course, I had no say over when the invitations went out, so I
politely told her so, reminded her we weren't going to find out the sex,
and let it go at that.
Well, the invitations got mailed out a few weeks later. My mother used
a bunch of invitations given to her by her sister (my cousin had a baby
shower a couple of months earlier - and actually gave birth the week
before my shower). Unfortunately, they invitations didn't have a spot for
a phone number to RSVP to, and my mother didn't realize this until after
the invitations had already been sent out. So, of course, I soon got
another email from my grandmother. Of course she was coming, but did I
know that I had forgotten to put my phone number on the invites, and did
we know what the baby was going to be yet?
Once again, doing my best to be diplomatic (this woman has called me a
pig, said my mother is a bad mother, and basically been horrible to my
family for as long as we've been a family) I apologize for the missing
phone number, assure her I'll let my mother know that she's planning on
coming, and once again remind her that we will not know what the baby is
until it's born.
Well, the day of the shower finally comes. People start showing up, and
soon we begin. Things are going great, until my mom announces one of the
games. It was some sort of quiz, and the 'prize' was that, for every
correct answer, you had to put a dime into a piggy bank she had bought for
the baby. I admit, I didn't exactly like the idea myself, straight out
asking for money, but most of my family was fine with it... Except my
great-aunt. She sat there for 15 minutes complaining about it, and
repeating over and over "This money is for the baby, not the parents!
They better not spend it on themselves!" Everybody was horrified with
this response, especially with me sitting right there, but we eventually
ignored it and went on with the day.
The rest of the shower was great, except for the occasional complaint
from my great-aunt (chair not comfortable enough, she didn't get to hold
my cousin's 1-week-old baby, she didn't like the choice of food, etc...)
Well, a month after the shower I get another email from my grandmother.
Apparently one of my cousins wasn't invited to the shower. Now, I didn't
know this. That side of my family has never been very in-touch with the
rest of us, and they usually don't show up to events (and don't invite us
to their own events), so I had just assumed that they had decided not to
come. Of course, my grandmother was furious about this, and let me know
that, and in the mean time asked me where the thank you notes were (I
admit, I still haven't gotten them mailed out - 3 months after the shower
- but I'm STILL working, just finished moving into a new apartment, and 9
months pregnant!) and once again, asked me if I knew what the baby was. I
apologized about the thank you notes, and once again had to explain
that I had no hand in the invitations - my mother had done them without
even asking me who I wanted invited, and if she wanted to complain, she'd
have to talk to her, and I was not going to know the sex of the baby until
it was born. And she still hasn't gotten the message - she emailed me
yesterday requesting my sister's email address and asking me whether or
not we knew yet.
My husband's brother Danny and his wife Mary were expecting their first
child four years ago. One day I got a call from my husband's sister Amy,
telling me that Mary has asked us to give her a baby shower. My first
thought is how tacky it is for her to ask us to give her a shower,
followed closely by the inappropriateness of a family-hosted shower. I
agree, however, mostly to keep the peace.
A few days later, I call Amy so we can decide who will purchase what
for the shower. She informs me that Mary has called her again, this time
to tell her exactly what theme and colors she wants for the shower and
where the decorations should be purchased. The store where the decorations
are to be purchased is just down the street from Mary's office, but a good
30 miles from either Amy or myself. Mary does graciously offer to buy the
decorations herself and says Amy can pay her back. Amy agrees, thinking
this will be at least one thing she won't have to worry about. It is
agreed that I will purchase the cake and the two of us will split the cost
of food. We decide to keep the food simple but abundant, as we are both
newly married and have limited budgets, but also want to be sure there is
ample food for the guests (I think it's also tacky to run out of food at a
gathering, but that's another story altogether.)
Not long after hanging up with Amy, I get a telephone call from Mary.
She reiterates her chosen shower theme and tells me at which bakery to
purchase the cake. I'm fairly familiar with the bakery, as it is one of
the more well-known and most expensive in our town. Mary proceeds to tell
me that she and a co-worker had gone to this bakery at lunch one day to
sample their cakes and she had decided which flavor she wanted for her
shower (I can understand doing this for your wedding cake, but for a
shower?!?) She had even given the owner my name and told her I would be
coming in and also made sure the owner knew what I should order. I called
the bakery to order the cake, figuring actually going in to do it was
pointless since Mary had pretty much already ordered the cake herself.
The day of the shower arrives and my mother and I stop at the bakery on
the way to Mary's house (oh yes, did I mention Mary requested we hold the
shower at her own house??) My mother and I had been talking about how
ridiculous it was that Mary was putting all these demands on what to buy
and where to buy it, especially since she had "volunteered" my
other SIL and me to throw the shower in the first place. We also talked
about the wonderful cake we'd gotten for my nephew's birthday party the
weekend before. The cake was delicious, beautifully decorated and served
20 people for around $25. It was purchased at a local store where we had
purchased many outstanding cakes in the past. So upon getting to the
bakery and seeing the shower cake, we were shocked. I could have done a
better job decorating it, and I'm not the least bit artistic. It was
extremely plain and honestly did not look like it had been done by a cake
decorator. It was a small cake, designed to feed maybe 12 people, and when
the owner told me the total cost was $55 I nearly fainted. Of course at
this point I had no choice but to pay $55 for an ugly cake that would most
likely not even feed everyone at the party.
We get to Mary's house, arriving (as agreed) about an hour and a half
before the shower is to begin. This will give us time to decorate for the
party, and arrange the food on the serving trays. When we walk in the
house the first thing I notice is that it looks as if it hasn't been
cleaned in about a month. There are dirty dishes in the sink, dirty
clothes on the floor, clean towels to be folded on the couch, and the
vacuum cleaner is sitting in the middle of the living room floor,
unplugged. Ok, so maybe Mary had formed an idea that at least the carpet
The second thing I notice is Amy in the kitchen, looking very annoyed.
Apparently Mary had walked into the kitchen, put one dish in the
dishwasher, then proclaimed she was tired and going to lie down for a nap.
Yes, Mary is seven months pregnant and I'm sure she needs her rest, so I
say nothing as I go about helping Amy clean the house. We finally get the
living room, dining room and kitchen clean (thanks to my mother for
helping or we may not have made it in time!) and figure we'd better start
putting the decorations up. Amy opens a closet door and pulls out a bag
that holds enough decorations to fully decorate a coliseum. There were
streamers, balloons, paper bells, paper flowers, literally enough to
decorate for five showers. Not to mention the fact that most of what Mary
had bought looked like wedding decorations. Amy tells me when she got to
Mary's house that afternoon Mary had presented her with a receipt for
$115. So much for Amy not having to worry about the decorations.
Mary finally comes out of the bedroom 10 minutes before the shower is
to begin. She announces she has to take a shower and get ready, and for us
to entertain the guests when they get there. Exactly one hour after the
shower actually began, Mary is ready. Amy and I are again grateful that we
have plenty of food and drink for the guests to help pass the time.
Mary mingles and eats and drinks for about 10 minutes. The next thing I
know, I hear ooohing and aaahing from the guest room. I go into the guest
room and there is Mary with her sister and best friend, opening up the
shower gifts! I don't know about anyone else, but if I'm at the shower I
actually like to see the person open my gift. Not to mention the fact that
I thought it rude for her to shut herself into a room with her sister and
best friend while she had over 20 guests there in her honor. We did
finally ask her to open the remaining gifts where we could see them, and
the rest of the shower went pretty well.
About half an hour later, Mary tells everyone she is tired and they
will have to leave. Everyone seems appropriately surprised, but not
altogether disappointed as Mary had made little effort to socialize with
any of them and had not once thanked anyone for being there. Once they had
all left Mary tells Amy, my mother and me that she was merely just tired
of all those people in her house. The three of us proceed to clean up the
remains of the shower (including the wrapping that Mary had scattered
throughout the guest room and living room while opening the gifts) while
Mary gets on the telephone with her mother in another state to talk about
some of the tacky gifts she received. (As an aside, none of the gifts was
tacky, but not surprisingly the ones she was mentioning to her mother were
all the ones costing under $50.)
My mother and I go into the dining room to get our purses and leave,
when lo and behold, what sits on the dining room table but the shower
cake! With the delay in getting the shower started, having to convince
Mary to open her gifts in front of everyone, and the surprise of her
telling everyone to leave, we had totally forgotten about the ugly, $55
cake! At least we didn't have to worry about if it would feed everyone
I was recently at a baby shower for a young single mother. This
new mom lives with her mother who is an "avid" smoker.
While the mom to be was opening the baby gifts, her mother was carefully
inspecting each item. Imagine everyone's surprise when Grandma began
to loudly shame the giver of a gift because the outfit was not fire
retardant. The room was silent as Grandma carried on about how rude
it was to give a non-fire retardant item when everyone knew she smoked!
How could the giver live with themselves if Grandma were holding the baby
while smoking and the cigarette were to fall on the baby and it caught on
fire? I was completely appalled!
My sister-in-law and I were pregnant at the same time. She is the type
of person who, if not in the spotlight, will throw a hissy fit to get
attention. There are SO many times that I could write of when she's been
rude, uncouth and lacking any sense of class or tact, but I will just
write of the day I gave birth to my son and some of my pregnancy.
*Angie* was due 6 weeks after me. From the getgo she was miffed about
having to share the glory of a new addition to the family with me. At my
baby shower she sat there, bored out of her skull and checking her watch.
When my brother came back to the house to see how things were going, she
hopped up and said she was ready to go. Two weeks before my due date I
went to her baby shower. I guess I didn't catch them, but later my sister
told me that Angie had made snide remarks about me being small or
something. See, Angie was huge before she was pregnant, and even huger
after, whereas 8 and 1/2 months pregnant I just began to show.
Well, birth days are a big deal in my family so when I went into labor
my family came from miles away to be at the hospital to see the brand
spankin' new baby. (They like to watch the weighing, poking the foot,
etc.) I looked really crappy when I was in labor so I didn't want anyone
to come in and see me until it was all over with. I tried to hold out on
drugs, but finally gave in. I felt better and looked so much better after
the epidural so I decided to let some family members come to my room to
see me. My brother came back and I asked him where Angie was. He told me
that Angie didn't want to come and see me because it would upset her too
much. My sister stood behind him rolling her eyes and I had to hold back
laughter for my brother's sake.
Well, less than 15 minutes after they left the room, I gave birth to my
son (Yeah, he was FAST!) I was elated, overwhelmed, in shock. After we
switched rooms and got my son in the room with about 12 family members
there fighting each other to hold him, Angie felt neglected. I didn't know
any of this went on at the time. Weeks later my best friend Katy, asked me
what was up with my SIL. According to her, Angie was sighing loudly and
shifting her weight around. Granted she was 7 and 1/2 months pregnant, but
that wasn't all she was doing. If my brother tried to get up to look at
the baby, she pulled him back down next to her by his shirt. She
frequently whispered in his ear. (I believe this because she frequently
does this to him at family dinners. Very childishly with her mouth at his
ear covering it up with her hand.) After a half hour, she says as loud as
she can, "Ed, I'm tired and this couch is uncomfortable. I want to go
home." Everyone in the room was went quiet, even my brother. After a
couple seconds he found his composure and said, "uh...um... yeah,
okay." He grabbed their coats, told me congrats, and left. She
continues to do rude, obnoxious things to this day. My sister and I wonder
which one of us will break first and really let her have it.
My husband’s family is pretty well spread across the country and
generally doesn’t keep very close contact with each other. But recently,
one of his many cousins (most I’ve never met and he hasn’t seen in
over 20 years) committed the ultimate act of bravery and organized a
family reunion in honor of the monarch’s (his grandmother’s) birthday.
I especially enjoyed the opportunity to meet in-laws I didn’t even now I
had. Although most of all them had been invited to our wedding that took
place five months before the reunion, none of them attended and very few
bothered to send so much as a card. Not a very tight-knit family.
So shortly after the very successful family reunion, one cousin
(“K”) discovers she’s expecting. This is great and exciting news for
not only mom and dad to be, but for most of the extended family. Given
that K’s only family in that she lives in is her husband and that this
is her first baby, one the aunt’s (not the K’s mom) sends an e-mail to
most of us asking if anyone would be interested in throwing a Cyber Baby
Shower for expectant K. We all think it’s a great idea and know that K
will be so surprised and grateful (maybe even slightly embarrassed at the
generosity). We, all but one, that is. Another aunt responds to the group
e-mail by reminding us not to forget that her daughter, “L”, is also
expecting in the same month as K and that L being left out of the Cyber
Shower surely was an oversight.
Being that I had developed quite a nice e-mail relationship with K and
consider a good friendship made, I was most excited to send to her mine
and my husband’s best wishes for their new baby with a gift from her
registry. (She created an on-line registry only after it being suggested
to her by the family.) Not to mention that K and her husband sent my
husband and me a very lovely wedding gift a few months earlier.
Not long after, L’s mom sent an e-mail to the same group of us to let
us know where we could find BOTH of L’s baby registries. Since my
husband and I didn’t get so much as a card or even an e-mail
acknowledging our wedding from L or her mother. And since L still lives in
the same home as her mother and brother (I would assume she has enough
family and acquaintances there to have a proper shower). And since L is a
cousin that my husband hasn’t seen in 20 years and I’ve never met, I
felt quite respectable about sending her a very lovely card with all our
best wishes and nothing more.
Well, this is a second hand story told to me by my best-friend, but
what I have heard is full of some very tacky behavior!! For starters, the
mom-to-be is throwing HERSELF a baby shower, and not just any baby shower,
a SECOND baby shower!! Her oldest child is only two, yet for some reason
she has managed to give away all of his belongings (even though they had
always planned on more children), and has now decided she is in dire need
of more baby items, so voila--she will throw herself a shower. And the
clencher, she has let all of the guests know on the invite that they need
to bring a pack of diapers in addition to their "regular" gift
if they wish to be eligible for the door prize. I was flabbergasted at the
audacity of some people!
I have belonged to a mother's group of about 12 women since my child,
now a year and a half old, was 3 months old. Recently, one of the
mothers in the group gave birth to her second son. I was surprised
enough to find out that one of the mothers in the group was hosting a
shower for the new baby, given that it is a second child (with a sibling
of the same gender a mere 18 months older, no less). However, I was
even more surprised when I received today the following email (names and
locations disguised for obvious reasons):
I just want to remind everyone that play group will be at my house
from 1 to 4 p.m. tomorrow. The play group will also be a little baby
shower for (New Mom), who is bringing (Older Son) and (New
Baby). Lunch will be provided. There is no need for you to bring
anything except yourselves and your children. If you'd like to bring a
small gift for (New Mom), that's fine. If you are interested in making a
donation to (Local Hospital) to help pay her hospital bill ((New Baby's
birth was not covered by their insurance), please write a check to (Local
Hospital) for whatever amount you feel is appropriate and put (New
Mom's) name in the memo area on the check. Then slip the check into an
envelope and seal it and give it to (Friend). (Friend) will deliver the
envelopes to the hospital billing department. That way your donation remains
private. No one except the hospital will open the envelopes.
See you tomorrow!
My husband and I attended the wedding of Charles and the obviously
pregnant Lisa, the wedding itself is another story for etiquette hell.
We gave a generous cash gift in a card. A few weeks later, we
received a thank you note from Lisa. Enclosed in the thank you is a
Baby Shower invite from Lisa. The invitation was written in Lisa’s
handwriting and was filled out in the following manner:
A Baby Shower for: Lisa
Given by: Me (meaning Lisa)
At: My House
It went on to give the time and date. Having only met Lisa twice,
I hadn’t planned on going. My husband has worked with Charlie for
about five years and thinks a lot of him, so I agreed to go. I had
to drive an hour and a half to get to the shower.
Upon entering, Lisa asked if I wanted something to drink. I said
yes, and followed her into the kitchen. She asked if I wanted some
wine. I told her no, as I don’t drink. Lisa began to pour a
plastic cup of wine. She corked the bottle and pointed to the
refrigerator and said “See if there is anything in there you want.”
I managed to find a 2 liter of flat soda.
I went to the living room where a huge pile of presents were.
Everyone was drinking wine except for me. Before the shower actually
started Charlie’s mother blew up and left because Charlie’s
stepmother had shown up. Everybody witnessed the soon to be
grandmother ranting and raving about the nerve of the stepmother to show
up. At this time, Lisa decides it is time to start the shower, she
sits down in the middle of the living room surrounded by presents.
Her mom asked her if she had any games to play and she didn’t because
“she didn’t think about that.” We sat around for about two
hours watching the mom-to-be open gifts.
After all of that, somebody asked if they needed help sitting out the
food. Lisa said they didn’t have any food except the cake that
Charlie’s step-mother had brought.
So, Lisa had thrown herself a baby shower, with no food, no games and
only wine to drink.
I love this website and I felt the need to share with you a personal
experience with a mother-to-be I once knew. I had met this
girl in passing in high school. None of us knew her very well...she
just sort of "showed up" one day among my small group of friends
and made it clear she intended to stay awhile. We assumed that Christine
was lonely and harmless, just wanting some people to talk to and so we
befriended her. We quickly regretted this choice as she used
our friendship to her every advantage. In return for paying for countless
meals for her, arranging special outings to cheer her up during her many
depressions, and offering her shoulders to cry on, she repaid us all with
manipulation, drama, ridiculous demands, vicious rumors, and various other
There was a collective sigh of relief among us when we graduated high
school (she was two years behind our class) and we thought that we'd
shaken her off and she would find a new group of people to sink her claws
into. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Christine, after a few months of silence, resurfaced in all of her
weeping, dramatic, and now-pregnant glory. It seemed that, as a
summer job, she had found work as a hostess in a private golfing club and,
in doing so, had met a man old enough to be her father who she had then
coerced into bed and...well...the rest is history. She wailed
that, on top of the pregnancy, her parents had kicked her out upon finding
out. We would later learn that they had not done anything of the
sort, but rather she had approached them with the news, they were
understandably upset, and she had thrown a fit and stormed off saying she
would find somewhere else to stay without giving them any idea of where to
After calming her down and assuring her that our doors were open to her
(though, privately, we wondered how she could have been stupid enough to
have let something like this happen to her at nineteen), we started trying
to make the best of a bad situation. As she shacked up in our friend
Shelly's spare bedroom since she was the only one among us living on her
own at that point, the rest of us set about planning a baby shower for her
in the following months. It was meant to be a surprise, but
Christine, of course, caught wind of it and set about making herself a
huge wish list on behalf of her child. Christine, I should mention,
had no qualms with telling anyone who asked (or didn't!!) that she carried
herself like a princess and expected to be treated as such. So, of
course, this fatherless unplanned child that Princess Christine could not
afford was expected to receive only the best from everyone.
My friends and I, after shaking our heads at the ridiculously elaborate
things she'd asked for, pooled our money with some that her aunt had
donated to our cause and we headed to Kids R Us to go shopping.
Being that we were just-graduated high school kids who were saving our
money for our impending college years, I think we did fairly well.
When all was said and done, we'd acquired a crib, a playpen, two sets of
bedding, an infant carrier, a feeding bottle kit, and a bathtub for the
sink. Her aunt, along with her monetary donation to our baby
shopping spree, contributed some new clothing, washcloths, and a single
item from Christine's wish list, a ridiculously-expensive baby
bonnet. You'd think that an unwed mother who had nothing
prepared for her child's arrival would be grateful to receive such things,
but not Christine.
On the night of the baby shower, she decided that she didn't want to
make an appearance and could not be convinced to come out of the guest
room. After Shelly spent the better part of an hour pleading with
her to come out and greet her guests while the rest of us sat
uncomfortably in the living room, she finally decided that she would grace
us with her presence and sulked in. The complaints began
almost immediately. First and foremost, she was offended that only
ten people had shown up. Bear in mind that by then she had alienated
most of her family and, aside from the original four of us, we'd had to
coerce a few of her other acquaintances from school into coming as well
and that they had shown up out of awkward pity.
The next thing we'd done wrong, apparently, was we had brought a
homemade cake rather than bought one for her in 'her colors'. Her
next complaint was that the ribbons we had used on the gifts were a bright
sea green color when we, as her friends, should know full well that she
-hates- the color green. We were growing extremely fed up with her
behavior by then and I suggested, a bit tersely, that maybe she should
open her baby's gifts and then she wouldn't have to look at the 'horrible'
ribbons any longer. Christine opened her packages in silence.
No pause, no examination, no 'thank you', she just methodically moved from
one to the next, tearing off the paper and throwing them into a pile
without even looking at who they were from.
As she unwrapped the crib's box last, she burst into tears. When
her aunt asked what was wrong, she started pointing fingers and making
accusatory statements. "I'm not letting my baby sleep in this
piece of K-mart s**t!! Where'd you find all of this crap,
Goodwill!?" As she continued to weep and then to go so
far as to accuse us of being "retarded" for not being able to
read and follow her wish list, I'd had enough, grabbed my coat and left.
I heard later that the others had followed my example shortly afterward.
I moved away a month later to be with my fiancé, but in an Emailed
update from Shelly, she explained to me that Christine had returned the
shower presents and used the combined money from all of the gifts to buy
an antique cradle she'd asked for on her original list. Due to her
poor planning and ungratefulness, all that was awaiting her daughter when
she was born was said cradle with no bedding (towels had been
substituted), a pack of onesies, and a bag of Huggies. I was
further relieved to hear a bit later that the father of the child had
turned out to be a reasonable man who cared about the well-being of his
daughter, planned or not. At the first sign of abusive behavior, he
had gotten her away from her psychotic mother and was currently living out
of her reach three states over and trying to obtain full custody.
It is my extreme hope that Christine has been able to see past her own
self-pity to learn SOMETHING from this experience. I dread to this
day that she might turn up pregnant again and that this time the child
might not be so lucky.
I have a cousin (H) who was raised by parents who frankly, couldn't be
bothered with a child. When she did bother them...well lets just say that
H was a very unhappy child. Some of us tried to help, but it wasn't easy
since my uncle, though he treated her terribly, was very possessive of
her. Calls to CPS were useless.
H is now barely an adult. She has her share of problems, but she has
managed to be a rather decent, sweet, human being. At 18 she was having
problems with severe depression as well as health problems (linked to
abuse.) She thought that her problems would melt away if she were part of
a happy family. So she has decided to have a baby with her unstable
I was more than willing to offer support to H, even though I thought it
was a terrible idea. But what happened nearly made my jaw go through the
H gave birth last month and my aunt (not her mother) called up my
parents with the good news. The aunt told my mother that she (the aunt)
had registered for everything H would need. She then explained that she
has already apportioned out the registry assigning items based on her
assessment of the givers financial status. H's poor, college-aged friends
were asked to contribute onesies or nail clippers, my aunt who has two
kids on college could afford some receiving blankets, my other aunt could
put in a car seat. It seems my parents got signed up for a rather pricey
jogging stroller (the kind that are called "Sport Utility")
because "they could afford it."
My mother wasn't sure that they could afford it. She and my father
retired last year and are still adjusting their budget. The Aunt insisted
that they had lots of money in the bank and could just go blow it. After
all, if they spent it all, they could just live on Social Security, right?
Think this is tacky? Well in the course of the conversation, Aunt
mentioned that no one else had complained when they had gotten their
assignments in the birth announcements. Birth announcements? Birth
announcements? My mother hadn't gotten any birth announcement. Aunt had
bought these really expensive, engraved things so that H would feel
"pampered" and "special about herself." They were so
expensive they didn't have enough.
So the lowly ones aren't good enough for a baby announcement. But they
are expected to come up with what is by far the most pricey item on the
My parents (and their children) sent some money, but not enough to buy
that stroller. (Another cousin had been assigned a less expensive one
anyway.) According to other relatives, H cried tears of joy when she got
our cards. I think it's good of my aunt to take H under her wing, but I
still can't believe what she did!
My SIL means well and tries to do the right thing. However, since she
wasn’t raised with any concept of etiquette nor has she read anything
about etiquette, she sometimes gets it quite wrong.
She recently had her second daughter. In Judaism, a large party is
typically thrown for a boy baby (at his circumcision) but until recently,
and to this day in some traditions, no such party is held for girls. To
right this wrong (?) a ceremony was invented called a “Shalom Bat” or
welcoming of a new baby girl. One throws this party shortly after a
daughter is born. It involves a few blessings, readings from friends and
family, a meal and those attending typically bring gifts for the new baby.
SIL threw one for her first daughter (a story in itself, but too long
to go into here) that was a bit of a fiasco but, to her, was a success.
With the birth of her second daughter, however, she has a huge number
of people she can invite – and therefore get more gifts. She has a group
from her temple, various playgroup families that she knows because of her
older daughter, other friends, relatives and neighbors. In all, about 150
people are invited. The party itself was lovely. The food was wonderful,
many of the children played in the basement where babysitters had been
hired to take care of them and the caterers even did most of the clean-up.
However, after the party the ‘fun’ began. SIL started to open the
gifts from the attendees. SIL really only likes fancy baby clothes with
fancy brand names (Baby LuLu, Cache Cache, etc.) and she received some
outfits from (horrors) The Gap or Gymboree. She’s going to return them.
Fine. However, each one gets a comment like, “They should have spent
more, they have gobs of money.” or “We bought them a much more
expensive gift when they had a baby.”
Worse, when she opened a few of the gifts she didn’t like, she
commented on how inappropriate it was and how she didn’t like those
people anyway. Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore and asked her why
she had invited people she didn’t even like. Her response, she had to
invite them because (a) they were part of the group and she couldn’t
invite only some of the people in the group for etiquette reasons and (b)
she had been to their parties and gotten their children gifts and felt
that it was only right to get gifts in return.
I guess that she never realized that she could decline to attend a
party. I guess she also never realized that one doesn’t have to invite
an entire group. One can actually invite only those with whom one is
friends as long as only one person from the group isn’t being excluded.
Once I said my piece about perhaps not making fun of every gift, not
ever really knowing how much money people have, etc. she started to tell
me that I should get over it because part of the fun of opening gifts was
gossiping about the gift giver. I’ve put serious effort into gifts for
her and her children in the past, but from now on I’ll either get her
exactly what she tells me to get (and she does) or a gift certificate
(which I hate giving) because I’m sure my gift is wrong too and I’d
hate to think that she’s gossiping about me to someone else.
Why should anyone care what a rude, boorish,
greedy person thinks of them? I wouldn't acquiesce to that kind of
person's gift demands to keep the peace either. People like that
will find any opportunity to gossip so why not give her a really juicy
reason by not giving her anything at all.
I did not experience this directly but I did experience the perpetrator
boasting about it. Apparently this young mother received a package
full of gifts for her baby from her MIL. She acknowledged that the gifts
were "thoughtful" and "cute" but went on to say that
she found the signature on the card unacceptable. So she wrote a thank you
note that said "Thank you but I told you that I do not like the name
"Nonnie" (sound too much like "Mommy") so I crossed it
out and wrote in "Grammy." She went on to say (proudly) that she
plans to do the same with any future cards and gifts until her MIL
"learns her lesson."
Page Last Updated May 15, 2007