Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Holidays => Topic started by: Two Ravens on December 10, 2013, 04:41:13 PM

Title: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Two Ravens on December 10, 2013, 04:41:13 PM
The "OK Not to buy a Gift" thread reminded me of this column from a few days ago.

http://www.seattlepi.com/lifestyle/advice/article/Advice-I-think-my-rich-childless-brother-should-5044651.php

Basically, the family of four siblings decided a few years ago to stop exchanging presents and only buy for the children in the family. Now, the one childless couple has decided to bow out of the present opening. The other siblings are outraged.

What do you guys think?

I think the LW sounds incredibly entitled. She makes comments about their income ("They're by far the wealthiest") and acts "hurt" because they give presents for kids on the giving tree at their church!
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Runningstar on December 10, 2013, 05:04:54 PM
I can't imagine telling anyone that they have to buy a gift for any of my kids!  The definition of gift must contain some words better than what I can come up with, but I'd say that voluntary should be in there.   I would rather get nothing than get a gift that wasn't given this way!   
Wow -don't read in the comments  the one commenter got a really nasty one in (skeltonator) if you read only the left side letters down.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Winterlight on December 10, 2013, 05:05:12 PM
Maybe they buy for Goddaughter because she doesn't have a big family. Maybe they focus on the giving tree because those are kids in genuine need. Maybe they're tired of being treated like a gift machine, always giving.

I do think the LW comes off very badly.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Lynnv on December 10, 2013, 05:09:16 PM
If my sibling was this entitled and greedy and was teaching the children the same I would quit being part of the "give gifts to kids while getting nothing in return" party too.   Noone is OWED a holiday gift. 

The fact that the LW somehow thinks the explanation to the kids should include a lack of caring on Scrooge's part instead of the idea that gifts are always voluntary leads me to believe that s/he is teaching the children to be greedy rather than grateful.

And the fact that Scrooge gives gifts to his goddaughter and to the giving tree leads me to believe that stinginess and selfishness aren't the issues here.  At least not on his side.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: GlitterIsMyDrug on December 10, 2013, 05:15:21 PM
I was jaw dropping the "how can I explain this to my children, they'll think their aunt and uncle don't care" line. So that's what LW is teaching their children? Love is expressed by gifts. Not by the fact that aunt and uncle will be at dinner later, will talk with the kids, let them show off their new toys, ect, ect. No, love is only expressed by someone giving you a shiny new something.

Partner and I are childless and we both make very nice salaries. We've been hit up (from cousins, ex-friends, ect) for the "more because you can clearly afford it", my finances and what I choose to do with those finances, are really none of anyone else concern.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Hmmmmm on December 10, 2013, 05:16:02 PM
I can't imagine this family of 4 siblings think it's fine for Ted and his wife to buy presents for each of their 5 neices and nephews but to receive nothing in return.

I'm also from a family of 4 siblings with a combined total of 5 offspring and we also decided to forgo buying presents for each other. But we have one childless sibling so we've always had the kids give a gift in return to them. Usually nothing too large or expensive and often a combined gift. But it seemed wrong for them to spend the time to buy for all of their 5 neices and newphews but receive noting in return.

I just can't believe the nerve of the siblings demanding that the uncle and aunt in law give gifts but that they must also be a captive audience.

And I be there is some type of token gift given from the god-daughter or her parents to the childless couple.
(For the last 10 years we've also done a secret santa exchange and as the offspring have entered college they've moved into the secret santa exchange and no longer receive gifts from their aunts and uncles. My DS is the last of the HS's and has 2 more Xmas's of receiving gifts from his aunts/uncles.)

Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: magicdomino on December 10, 2013, 05:22:45 PM
When I first read that, my first thought was that the children weren't showing any appreciation for the gifts.  Either the children weren't thanking their uncle and aunt, or the gifts were simply getting buried among other, perhaps flashier gifts.  It's not much fun giving gifts to children who are getting everything, especially if your thoughtfully chosen books are ignored in favor of Big Plastic Thing That They Really Wanted.  In my case, I confess to taking some comfort in the suspicion that the Big Plastic Thing didn't make it through New Year's Day; it was pretty flimsy.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Nuala on December 10, 2013, 05:39:39 PM
When I first read that, my first thought was that the children weren't showing any appreciation for the gifts.

I wondered about that, too.

I also wonder what kind of a relationship the children have with their aunt and uncle, especially since their parents are such Gimmee Pigs on the kids' behalf.

Ted and Lisa probably have a nice, on-going relationship with the goddaughter, which is why she gets presents. Who knows, maybe she even makes macaroni pictures for them!
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Luci on December 10, 2013, 05:44:52 PM
The attitude of Ted appalls me. The wealth of the family has nothing to do with it.

I'm working with my 1969 budget here: The giving should be done to the individual, not family. I would give each person the equivalent of $10. If Abby has 3 kids and Bea has a husband 1 kid, Abby's family gets about $40 and Bea's family about $30, and L and I as a couple hope for $20 if we have no kids. )Not expect, hope. And yes, a couple gift of $20 for Ms Bea & spouse (blender!) will do.

If we agree for kids only, I'd give Abby's family a total of $30 and Bea's family $10, and not hope for something in return. It's for the person, not the family.

So, Ted thinks that his nieces and nephews are worthless because he doesn't get a gift? I really am judgmental about people like that, but then, I guess Ted doesn't care a whole lot about what I think of him.

The whole thing about Christman giving and the angst it causes just is so weird to me. And yes, I am a Christian living in the US all of my life - Santa Claus fable and all, but I just don't get it.

Edited: nothing and something are not the same thing!
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Corvid on December 10, 2013, 05:50:19 PM
I think here is a good opportunity for Ted's siblings to explain to their children that Uncle Ted gives presents to needy kids and why that's a good thing.  It sounds like those kids get tons of gifts as it is, they can manage without one from Uncle Ted and Aunt Lisa, and the kids probably won't think twice about it if their parents don't make a big fuss.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: GlitterIsMyDrug on December 10, 2013, 05:54:22 PM
The attitude of Ted appalls me. The wealth of the family has nothing to do with it.

I'm working with my 1969 budget here: The giving should be done to the individual, not family. I would give each person the equivalent of $10. If Abby has 3 kids and Bea has a husband 1 kid, Abby's family gets about $40 and Bea's family about $30, and L and I as a couple hope for $20 if we have no kids. )Not expect, hope. And yes, a couple gift of $20 for Ms Bea & spouse (blender!) will do.

If we agree for kids only, I'd give Abby's family a total of $30 and Bea's family $10, and not hope for nothing in return. It's for the person, not the family.

So, Ted thinks that his nieces and nephews are worthless because he doesn't get a gift? I really am judgmental about people like that, but then, I guess Ted doesn't care a whole lot about what I think of him.

The whole thing about Christman giving and the angst it causes just is so weird to me. And yes, I am a Christian living in the US all of my life - Santa Claus fable and all, but I just don't get it.

I love giving gifts. Love it. Couldn't care less about getting them (though I do enjoy unwrapping...), I have everything I need and a good majority of what I want (if someone would just work on that unicorn for me). But I just adore shopping for, coming up with, wrapping, and giving a gift.

I hate being told I have to give gifts. I hate being told that I can "afford" to give more, better, ect. It takes all the gift giving joy out of it for me.

Ted can choose to spend his money however he sees fit. Perhaps he and his wife want a child but are having troubles having one and seeing all these kids gleefully tearing into a pile of presents is just too much for them to take. Perhaps they're saving their money for something else so can't afford it this year. Maybe the kids never say thank you or show any appreciation towards the effort put forth. Perhaps his siblings have off handily mentioned the Ted should give better gifts, fancier gifts, ect. It doesn't really matter. He's opting out and that's allowed.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: TootsNYC on December 10, 2013, 06:00:38 PM

I'm also from a family of 4 siblings with a combined total of 5 offspring and we also decided to forgo buying presents for each other. But we have one childless sibling so we've always had the kids give a gift in return to them. Usually nothing too large or expensive and often a combined gift. But it seemed wrong for them to spend the time to buy for all of their 5 neices and newphews but receive noting in return.


I see what you did there--you are showing your true colors, Hmmmmm.

Nice colors--caring colors. For you, the inequity is not as much the money as it is the effort, energy, caring.



Luci45, do remember that we don't actually know what Ted's attitude is.
He has said, "we're not coming for the gift opening; we'll come later." He said, "we're not really into that." I'm not absolutely certain whether he actually said, "we aren't giving presents"--I wouldn't put it past this particular woman to have assumed that, even if Ted is thinking "we'll skip the present-opening and bring our gifts when we come for the afterward thing." There simply isn't anything I would trust to indicate whether presents will arrive or not.

The letter writer is also the one who assumed "because they don't get presents, they aren't going to give them." In fact, she used the words, "in other words," meaning she is interpreting a meaning there. Ted didn't say that!

I don't think I'd ever decide to never give a present--but I might skip the whole frenzy with all the kids. And I might really scale down what I give them. (Honestly, in that situation, I think I'd just start buying everybody a box of wacky breakfast cereal or a huge box of Goldfish crackers. And be That Aunt. Most kids might think that's kinda fun.)
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: MummySweet on December 10, 2013, 06:02:30 PM
The attitude of Ted appalls me. The wealth of the family has nothing to do with it.

I'm working with my 1969 budget here: The giving should be done to the individual, not family. I would give each person the equivalent of $10. If Abby has 3 kids and Bea has a husband 1 kid, Abby's family gets about $40 and Bea's family about $30, and L and I as a couple hope for $20 if we have no kids. )Not expect, hope. And yes, a couple gift of $20 for Ms Bea & spouse (blender!) will do.

If we agree for kids only, I'd give Abby's family a total of $30 and Bea's family $10, and not hope for nothing in return. It's for the person, not the family.

So, Ted thinks that his nieces and nephews are worthless because he doesn't get a gift? I really am judgmental about people like that, but then, I guess Ted doesn't care a whole lot about what I think of him.

The whole thing about Christman giving and the angst it causes just is so weird to me. And yes, I am a Christian living in the US all of my life - Santa Claus fable and all, but I just don't get it.

But do we really know why Ted and his wife have opted out of the gift exchange?   He stated that "they aren't really part of it" and his sister obviously has an opinion about what  that means...but do we know she is correct?    I can totally see a childless couple feeling on the outside of a kid-centric Christmas.  We often hear about childless people feeling left out when all their parent friends talk of nothing but children.  Isn't this an amplification of the same issue?    Christmas should be a time of happiness and enjoyment.  What's wrong with opting out of something that doesn't bring happiness and enjoyment?     
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: VorFemme on December 10, 2013, 06:08:39 PM
I know how the childless couple felt. 

VorGuy and I tried to get gifts for all the nieces & nephews (until they graduated high school).  But I could (cough) name the aunts & uncles who didn't give gifts to our kids...note, the childless aunt was the one who never forgot their birthdays & Christmas.

The others - some of whom did have money issues or were single parents - but not all of them....  Well, we didn't get presents for our kids and we didn't get thank you notes from all of them and it was almost a relief when some of them graduated high school & were put on the list of "we mirror what you do" for presents, greetings, and the like.

I will admit that as my tendinitis got worse, the Christmas card list got shorter & shorter, too.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: kherbert05 on December 10, 2013, 06:50:15 PM
I'm the childless aunt - but I'm a teacher so no one thinks I'm wealthy. The parents of my 1st cousins once and twice removed have their kids give me a something small, because I give them something.

When I was a kid it was decided to do kids only presents among the 2nd cousins on Christmas eve. The way basically worked was if you were younger than 16 or so you brought a gift for every cousin 2nd and further removed in the same age bracket. We didn't get or give presents with the adults that distant. 1st cousins didn't exchange presents that night because their families would get together Christmas morning or afternoon and exchange presents. It was the KIDS that gave and received (yes the parents were paying)
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: PastryGoddess on December 10, 2013, 06:57:51 PM
The attitude of Ted appalls me. The wealth of the family has nothing to do with it.

I'm working with my 1969 budget here: The giving should be done to the individual, not family. I would give each person the equivalent of $10. If Abby has 3 kids and Bea has a husband 1 kid, Abby's family gets about $40 and Bea's family about $30, and L and I as a couple hope for $20 if we have no kids. )Not expect, hope. And yes, a couple gift of $20 for Ms Bea & spouse (blender!) will do.

If we agree for kids only, I'd give Abby's family a total of $30 and Bea's family $10, and not hope for nothing in return. It's for the person, not the family.

So, Ted thinks that his nieces and nephews are worthless because he doesn't get a gift? I really am judgmental about people like that, but then, I guess Ted doesn't care a whole lot about what I think of him.

The whole thing about Christman giving and the angst it causes just is so weird to me. And yes, I am a Christian living in the US all of my life - Santa Claus fable and all, but I just don't get it.

Are you agreeing with all of LW's claims about Ted? How can you ascribe those motives to Ted when he is not the one who wrote the letter?  It's not his side we're hearing

I'm not saying that one party is right and the other is wrong, but your post seems like an overreaction to a situation that we are at best hearing 3rd hand via an online advice column.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Venus193 on December 10, 2013, 08:01:52 PM
We don't know the reason Ted and Lisa are opting out of this.  It's possible that they are feeling used because they are the most affluent in the family.  Whether this is painful because they are trying unsuccessfully to have children or because they can't tolerate the sight and sound of screeching children ripping open Christmas gifts or whether they know that these same gifts are going to be put aside and forgotten before New Year's is immaterial.

We will never know the answers to these questions.  All we do know is that nobody has the right to tell him how to spend his money.  His siblings and their spouses/partners are showing their own greed, which may be picked up by their children.  If Ted and Lisa want to give to charity so poor children can have even a little of what their nieces and nephews they are within their rights to do so.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: cwm on December 11, 2013, 09:41:36 AM
I love geting gifts for people. I hate dictation on how to spend my money.

If, for some reason, Christmas changes to be child-centric, I refuse to play along. I always get gifts for my sister, my mom, and my grandma, without fail. That's not saying I won't buy for the kids, but I won't stop buying for anyone else. And if that means I choose to show up late to avoid the resentment of being told who to buy for and still discreetly give others their packages, that's what I'll do.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: heartmug on December 11, 2013, 11:21:01 AM
I don't know why the other couples can't have their kids buy a little something for childless aunt and uncle, even after Christmas, to show their appreciation.

My one SIL and BIL are childless.  My dd buys their dog and cat a present and they love it!
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Biker Granny on December 11, 2013, 12:02:51 PM
I'm the mother of the child everyone "forgot" about at Christmas because he spent part of Christmas at his Dad's and that seemed to always be at the same time as that certain part of the family's get togethers.

My husband and I make pretty decent $, not rich, but we're ok.....it was hard over the years to buy and buy for all the nieces and nephews AND remember the birthdays. (we did stop the birthday because of the absence of thank yous)
Our "nothing in return" was the fact that they never bought my/our son anything....so yes I can see how Ted and his wife might feel.

I think big Sis would be wiser to actually sit and talk to Ted and his wife to see what is really going on.  Maybe they have been made to feel like cash cows.  Maybe it is because they've not received Thank yous.  Big Sis won't know unless she actually talks to them.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: MommyPenguin on December 11, 2013, 12:46:28 PM
I don't see why it's such a big deal for somebody who never gets a present from somebody else to opt out of the gift exchange.  I mean, isn't gift "exchange" the point?  Haven't people posted on the boards about giving presents to somebody year after year, and never getting one, and deciding to cut back on gift-giving?  It's not so much that one prefers giving to receiving, but there's a difference in giving something to somebody because you heard they were interested in it, or saw it in a store and thought it was perfect, versus "obligation" giving when you know that a holiday/birthday is coming and a gift is required, so you try to figure out what the person would be interested in and whether it's in your price range.  Why is it so foreign to say, hey, I'm going to a lot of trouble every year to get presents for every other family (okay, it's just for the kids, but the parents benefit), and yet nobody does the same for us, and we feel left out?

I rather wonder how much say Ted and his wife got in the switch to presents-for-kids only.

My brother and I don't exchange presents for Christmas, because he's single (well, just got engaged!), and I'm married with 4 kids, and it's just really hard to make it reasonably fair without undue burden on one side.  It works out really well.  My BIL and SIL, on the other hand, have 3 kids, and so it works fairly well to do a "kids only" exchange with them because it's fairly balanced.

I realize that it complicates things more when there are more than two siblings, thought.  Three of them want to do kids-only, and one would prefer not to.  It makes perfect sense to me, then, to have the childless couple opt out.  Depending on the situation, they could maybe give a present that would be to *all* the kids, like a game they could play.  But that would only work if Christmas was, say, taking place at the grandparents' house, and all the kids would come there regularly to play, or something.  Otherwise, what would happen to the game after Christmas?  Or they could maybe get a Christmas ornament for each kid.  But otherwise, yeah, if I were one of the families with kids, I would totally understand them opting out and would support them in it.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Redneck Gravy on December 11, 2013, 01:33:32 PM
For a few years I traded kid gifts with little sis (she has 3, I have 2 kids) it was so ridiculously imbalanced that I finally opted to stop the exchange.

I would buy three new $20 gifts for her kids - she bought two USED gifts at goodwill type places.  No thanks - new is good enough for your kids, it's good enough for my kids.  One year she gave them dollarstore blankets that fell apart when I washed them - literally, shredded in the washing machine and they smelled awful (our dogs would not lay on them either).

Twice she gave them Starbucks gift cards that had no value on them when they got to Starbucks (not once - TWICE).   

This is the same sister I no longer speak to over other toxic behavior. 
 
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: nuit93 on December 11, 2013, 01:36:42 PM
It sounds like things are pretty one-sided in that family.  I don't blame Ted and Lisa for opting out.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: GlitterIsMyDrug on December 11, 2013, 01:37:13 PM
My one SIL and BIL are childless.  My dd buys their dog and cat a present and they love it!

That is the cutest thing ever! 
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on December 11, 2013, 02:05:35 PM
The attitude of Ted appalls me. The wealth of the family has nothing to do with it.

I'm working with my 1969 budget here: The giving should be done to the individual, not family. I would give each person the equivalent of $10. If Abby has 3 kids and Bea has a husband 1 kid, Abby's family gets about $40 and Bea's family about $30, and L and I as a couple hope for $20 if we have no kids. )Not expect, hope. And yes, a couple gift of $20 for Ms Bea & spouse (blender!) will do.

If we agree for kids only, I'd give Abby's family a total of $30 and Bea's family $10, and not hope for something in return. It's for the person, not the family.

So, Ted thinks that his nieces and nephews are worthless because he doesn't get a gift? I really am judgmental about people like that, but then, I guess Ted doesn't care a whole lot about what I think of him.

The whole thing about Christman giving and the angst it causes just is so weird to me. And yes, I am a Christian living in the US all of my life - Santa Claus fable and all, but I just don't get it.

Edited: nothing and something are not the same thing!

I'm sorry, but I don't get this at all.  When I read the letter originally on Hax's column, my first thought was: what if Ted and his wife are not childless by choice?  The LW jumped to a whole lot of assumptions, and frankly, I think you did as well.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: tinkytinky on December 11, 2013, 03:39:02 PM
LW is certainly acting entitled. Nobody is owed a gift. Ever. Not just at the holidays, but anytime.

That being said, I, myself have family that are childless (2 brothers, 1 sister). I have one brother that has 3 children (2 of which are adults) and DH and I have 5. a total of 8 cousins on this side of the family. I would never expect anybody to give gifts to any of us. Some do (my sister goes a little overboard), some do not. We get together to celebrate the family, not the gifts.

LW needs to sort out her priorities.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: sammycat on December 11, 2013, 03:57:59 PM
When I read the letter originally on Hax's column, my first thought was: what if Ted and his wife are not childless by choice?  The LW jumped to a whole lot of assumptions,

This was my first thought as well. If it is the case, then I can't imagine how incredibly painful that must be for them (actually I can; been there, done that; thank god it wasn't forever).

Even if that isn't the reason, Ted and his wife have done nothing wrong. They haven't made a big song and dance about it; they've just quietly removed themselves from a situation they can no longer tolerate. LW, on the other hand though, is 100% in the wrong.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: MindsEye on December 12, 2013, 07:34:07 AM
I don't see why it's such a big deal for somebody who never gets a present from somebody else to opt out of the gift exchange.  I mean, isn't gift "exchange" the point?  Haven't people posted on the boards about giving presents to somebody year after year, and never getting one, and deciding to cut back on gift-giving?  It's not so much that one prefers giving to receiving, but there's a difference in giving something to somebody because you heard they were interested in it, or saw it in a store and thought it was perfect, versus "obligation" giving when you know that a holiday/birthday is coming and a gift is required, so you try to figure out what the person would be interested in and whether it's in your price range.  Why is it so foreign to say, hey, I'm going to a lot of trouble every year to get presents for every other family (okay, it's just for the kids, but the parents benefit), and yet nobody does the same for us, and we feel left out?

Yes to all of this but especially the bolded.

Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: scarlett on December 13, 2013, 01:12:27 PM
As the "childless Aunt" growing up. Thankfully, in my family we only gift to our God Children or whoever we are close to. We don't do huge family Christmases anymore.  I can totally see Ted's point of view. It is not the wonderful time the letter writer imagines to watch children open piles of gifts. It isn't that Ted and wife aren't getting gifts; it's that they are left out of the activity by it's very nature.

Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Redneck Gravy on December 13, 2013, 01:46:10 PM
As the "childless Aunt" growing up. Thankfully, in my family we only gift to our God Children or whoever we are close to. We don't do huge family Christmases anymore.  I can totally see Ted's point of view. It is not the wonderful time the letter writer imagines to watch children open piles of gifts. It isn't that Ted and wife aren't getting gifts; it's that they are left out of the activity by it's very nature.

We were the last couple in our family to have children - no, it isn't all that much fun watching your children open piles of presents, piles and piles.  And then to see the lopsided great gifting from Grandma to sister X's children and so much less to brother Y's kids-just no.

Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Jones on December 13, 2013, 02:10:24 PM
Regarding gifting the godchild but not the nephews/nieces... I wonder about the rest of the year, outside of Christmas. Does Godchild call to chat, send pictures in the mail, etc. and is therefore closer to the couple than these expectant receivers? The letter writer makes it sound like this is all about Christmas but it could be that the couple have made this decision based on activities (or lack thereof) the rest of the year, or relationships (or lack thereof).
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Jules1980 on December 13, 2013, 02:17:05 PM
I've been the childless aunt on Christmas morning and it sucks.  As much as you love those kids, present after present gets boring.  And you don't feel like you are a part of it.

The nicest thing ever was the Christmas I spent at my sister's and she got me 4 gifts, all thoughtful and well planned out.  It made me feel like I mattered that she took the time to do that, but the best part was her reason.  She said that I bought 4 gifts or more for her family of 4 and then anothe 2 on my brother's family so it wasn't fair for me to spend $$$ on christmas for their families and the after 2 small gifts, got to sit and watch everyone open a ton of gifts.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: magicdomino on December 13, 2013, 03:30:20 PM
I've been the childless aunt on Christmas morning and it sucks.  As much as you love those kids, present after present gets boring.  And you don't feel like you are a part of it.

Oh, I don't know about that.  It doesn't bother this childless aunt, except when a gift from me flops like a dying duck.  Back when the adults exchanged gifts as well, most of the stuff that I got was just that, stuff.  Scented bath sets, scented candles, that sort of thing.  (Did mention that I'm allergic to perfume?)  I honestly prefer not receiving gifts, although I still get the occasional White House Christmas Ornament or food basket when someone feels guity.    :)
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: TootsNYC on December 13, 2013, 10:59:25 PM
As the "childless Aunt" growing up. Thankfully, in my family we only gift to our God Children or whoever we are close to. We don't do huge family Christmases anymore.  I can totally see Ted's point of view. It is not the wonderful time the letter writer imagines to watch children open piles of gifts. It isn't that Ted and wife aren't getting gifts; it's that they are left out of the activity by it's very nature.

We were the last couple in our family to have children - no, it isn't all that much fun watching your children open piles of presents, piles and piles.  And then to see the lopsided great gifting from Grandma to sister X's children and so much less to brother Y's kids-just no.

Add to that, when you're the last, there's a likelihood that your siblings will all have less money than you did and will also be sort of "over it," now that their kids are older.
   That's true for me! I "was there," as an auntie, to my nie-phews. My kids didn't get that at all from their aunts & uncles.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: POF on December 14, 2013, 06:45:12 AM
Hi Toots - same thing here. We were very generous with the 8 nephews and nieces.  My 2 came much later and some of DH's siblings have grandchildren now that my 2 are in their teens.

Everyone else always remember my boys at XMAS. B-days, confirmation etc - with the exception of DH's brother and odd SIL.  They were the first to call of we forget someone's b-day ( we did this once - we were on a 3 week vacation and forgot to mail the gifr before we ledt - it was a BIG deal with crying by SIL ) ,  this SIL would call and tell us we needed to buy housewarming etc for her children.  But know they frequently don't recognize anything of my kids.  My response to DH and the boys is that a gift is voluntary - let it go.

I remember when DH and I were childless, and the other sibs and their kids would plan great outings to beach, water park,  museum, etc and not include us because we don't have kids. We were fine to be included if we needed to bring a gift - otherwise our company wasn't welcome.

The letter writer is out of line.  How many gifts does a kids need on XMAS ? They are getting stuff from other relatives and parents I presume. Gifts do not equate to love / friendship or anything.  I also bet there is a back story behind it as well.  I have  niece who's mother was sooooo specific about what to buy her for birthday. And if it wasn't right we heard about it - we finally started getting her gift cards and then we heard .. oh but she likes something she can open.

Personally - the holidays for me are not about gifts, and DH and I cut down with everyone- We no longer exchange with any adults - our  parents included.  We buy a few small token things - but we took off the pressure of buying a big thing for people who have everything they need. Instead we go out for a nice dinner.  our preference is to enjoy the season and stay out of the mall.





Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Chelsealady on December 14, 2013, 09:46:32 AM
I'm the childless auntie. And I never get a good present from my SIL, sister or mother. Not because they are being mean but because it just never occurs to them that we are buying multiple gifts and we get a little token gift. They just assume that if want something we will go get it ourselves. And most of the time we do.

That being said I enjoy giving the gifts and  the kids and parents are very appreciative. If they didn't I would stop.


Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: NyaChan on December 14, 2013, 10:55:21 AM
I'm going to sound grumpy and cantankerous here - but I can't think of anything more boring than sitting for an hour or more and watching someone else's kids open present after present.  At least if the adults were included there would be something to break up the monotony, something to include me.  But otherwise, it feels like I'd be watching another family's Christmas morning because I'd have no participation except to bring a present.  It's a family event and yet it would feel like we were only celebrating for the families with children.

I love my nieces and nephews, but they aren't my kids and nothing they receive is going to interest me the way it interests their parents unless it is something personal between us.  Focusing entirely on them during an event that should be for everyone doesn't sound like a fun time.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Library Dragon on December 14, 2013, 01:38:10 PM
I feel for Ted and his wife.  Being treated as if they are obligated to provide goods rather than givers of gifts is not nice. 

DH's always had a give to the kids or childless adults gifts.  BIL and his husband are extreely generous to all their nieces and nephews.  Years ago they did get tired of the kids ripping through presents in five minutes without more than a token thank you.  This was when DS1 was 9 months, so fortunately he wasn't a culprit. (Actually I missed the entire gift opening experience that year because I was in the kitchen checking on dinner.)

BILs put their feet down. They were absolutely right. Time and appreciation should be part of the gift exchange. They aren't vending machines.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Venus193 on December 14, 2013, 03:57:47 PM
My college buddy's six children got Christmas gift from me until the year that his younger daughter (who was about 8, I think) actually asked me what something I gave her cost.  I was floored at the question and sidestepped it by saying I bought it wholesale so that number would be meaningless.  He chickened out of telling her that it was rude to ask by saying "They all ask that now."

However, the real trigger to my not buying gifts for them anymore was when his wife decided to divorce him and started turning the kids against him and his friends.  They were encouraged to make fun of me.  When I heard that I made my decision.

To this day that same girl doesn't speak to her own father; she is the only one of his children he never sees.  I have no idea what that's really about but I know that the ex suffered from severe depression.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Katana_Geldar on December 14, 2013, 04:18:49 PM
The only time I'd ask what a gift cost is in a roundabout way, such as "I hope you didn't pay too much for this really nice thing!" And hopefully they say, "I got it on sale and glad you like it."
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: amylouky on December 14, 2013, 06:43:10 PM
I was the childless auntie for a long time. We tended to alternate between buying for everyone and buying for just the kids. In years that we bought just for the kids, it didn't really bother me not to get gifts. I had fun watching the kids open their gifts.

What DOES bother me, however, is that it seems the new (as in, the last few years) tradition in my family has been to either draw names (so everyone gets one gift), do a small gift for the whole family, or decide not to do gifts at all. DH and I were the last in the family to become parents. This will be the third Christmas that our boys have been in the family. It does bother me that I spent years picking presents for their children (which I loved doing, don't get me wrong), but now that we have children it's too much for everyone so our boys don't get as much.

I realize that that sounds childish, selfish, and possibly gimme-piggish.. and that no one is obligated to get gifts for my kids. It just seems a bit lopsided.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: DoubleTrouble on December 14, 2013, 07:42:56 PM
My one SIL and BIL are childless.  My dd buys their dog and cat a present and they love it!

That reminds me that I need to find a bone-shaped cookie cutter. My cousin & her husband are childless but have two dogs & I'm planning on having my boys give their doggie cousins homemade treats for Christmas in addition to the people-friendly treats ;) 
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Hmmmmm on December 15, 2013, 01:00:05 PM
I was the childless auntie for a long time. We tended to alternate between buying for everyone and buying for just the kids. In years that we bought just for the kids, it didn't really bother me not to get gifts. I had fun watching the kids open their gifts.

What DOES bother me, however, is that it seems the new (as in, the last few years) tradition in my family has been to either draw names (so everyone gets one gift), do a small gift for the whole family, or decide not to do gifts at all. DH and I were the last in the family to become parents. This will be the third Christmas that our boys have been in the family. It does bother me that I spent years picking presents for their children (which I loved doing, don't get me wrong), but now that we have children it's too much for everyone so our boys don't get as much.

I realize that that sounds childish, selfish, and possibly gimme-piggish.. and that no one is obligated to get gifts for my kids. It just seems a bit lopsided.
No it's not childish at all. I'm the youngest in my family so the last to have kids. I would be very irritated if my older sisters didn't gift my kids to the extent I did theirs when they were under 18.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: TootsNYC on December 15, 2013, 01:56:09 PM
As often happens, I agree w/ Hmmmmm. (5 m's)

I had the same sort of reaction--and believe me, it wasn't about the stuff. It was about the fact that I went out of the way to make their kids feel that they were important to people in the family beyond their mom and dad. My siblings really haven't done that for my kids.

And that's what bothers me. It makes me feel a little miffed, but it mostly makes me feel hurt and sad.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: blarg314 on December 15, 2013, 06:39:20 PM

I suspect that Ted wasn't consulted about the change in giving.

A good rule is that you cannot make suggestions about gift exchanges that benefit you (or your family unit) at the expense of other people. So the LW could have suggested that they exchange gifts family to family, or told Ted that he didn't need to get a gift for the adults, or suggested not exchanging all. But they picked the solution that benefited their families (tons of presents for their kids), while Ted and wife don't get anything at all.

And yeah, there can be something isolating about sitting there watching other people tear into tons of presents when you don't get anything at all. Particularly if there's no thank-yous involved. The worst case of this is for the single, childless family member, who is not only expected to get presents for all the kids, but doesn't have *anyone* to give them presents. Even in the kids present scenario, I'll bet the spouses exchange gifts, and the kids get something for the parents, neither of which the singleton has.

I would be curious to know the dynamics of the family in general - for example, is there a trend of everything being all about the kids, and the couple without them being shoved off to the side as less important? 

Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Redneck Gravy on December 16, 2013, 10:32:14 AM
As the "childless Aunt" growing up. Thankfully, in my family we only gift to our God Children or whoever we are close to. We don't do huge family Christmases anymore.  I can totally see Ted's point of view. It is not the wonderful time the letter writer imagines to watch children open piles of gifts. It isn't that Ted and wife aren't getting gifts; it's that they are left out of the activity by it's very nature.

We were the last couple in our family to have children - no, it isn't all that much fun watching your children open piles of presents, piles and piles.  And then to see the lopsided great gifting from Grandma to sister X's children and so much less to brother Y's kids-just no.

Add to that, when you're the last, there's a likelihood that your siblings will all have less money than you did and will also be sort of "over it," now that their kids are older.
   That's true for me! I "was there," as an auntie, to my nie-phews. My kids didn't get that at all from their aunts & uncles.

Bingo!  And in our case, after spending years babysitting for my siblings, they moved away and when our turn came they were far away.  My kids hardly know their aunt & uncles whereas my nieces & nephews remember me quite well.

 
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Mikayla on December 16, 2013, 03:07:12 PM
I can't imagine telling anyone that they have to buy a gift for any of my kids!  The definition of gift must contain some words better than what I can come up with, but I'd say that voluntary should be in there.   I would rather get nothing than get a gift that wasn't given this way!   
Wow -don't read in the comments  the one commenter got a really nasty one in (skeltonator) if you read only the left side letters down.

How the heck did you catch that?  I'm impressed!  I thought it was some weird attempt at poetry, and obviously the person who replied missed it, as well.

Anyway, I love C Hax and she was spot on in her response, as usual. 
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Marisol on December 17, 2013, 12:04:01 AM

And yeah, there can be something isolating about sitting there watching other people tear into tons of presents when you don't get anything at all.

Yes exactly this. When every family is receiving except yours it is isolating.  You have a moment to be involved when they are opening a gift you brought, but you're never fully part of the festivities and its like you are just watching through a window.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: mbbored on December 18, 2013, 12:48:59 AM

And yeah, there can be something isolating about sitting there watching other people tear into tons of presents when you don't get anything at all.

Yes exactly this. When every family is receiving except yours it is isolating.  You have a moment to be involved when they are opening a gift you brought, but you're never fully part of the festivities and its like you are just watching through a window.

And with the knowledge that you "get to" spend money on them without them ever spending a dime on you.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Awestruck Shmuck on December 18, 2013, 03:11:40 AM
I was very nearly in the same mind as the brother the LW was complaining about. Last Christmas, I was in a particularly emotional state, and for some reason was particularly stung by the lack of interest my nephews showed in the gifts I spent ages agonising over, and a fair bit of cash too.

I love my nephews and my niece ever so much, and it was a joy to shop for them (and other kids - the last few years has been baby season in my circle of friends), but was very hurt when my brother announced 'you're lucky you get anything - Christmas is all about the kids, and YOU don't have any' - I was pretty gutted.

The only thing I had done to 'deserve' that outburst, was get a new set of cookware from my mum (and my brother didn't get anything from her - his 3 children did). Mum still buys for my sister and I, and gets something for our partners, but we know when we have kids, that that will stop.

This year I thought long and hard about even going to the family christmas - and while I'm apprehensive, I love running around in the garden with my nephews and my cousins kids - and would missing singing christmas carols at the piano with my niece, so will go.

But I really felt for the subjects in that letter - the LW is seriously entitled and obnoxious!!
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: sammycat on December 18, 2013, 03:48:01 AM
was very hurt when my brother announced 'you're lucky you get anything - Christmas is all about the kids, and YOU don't have any' - I was pretty gutted.

 Wow. :o >:( :-[ :-\

So very sorry you were subjected to that.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: SCMagnolia on December 18, 2013, 12:53:42 PM
I am single and childless.  I can tell you from many years of experience that the childless part around Christmas can absolutely SUCK.  I've left shopping malls in tears because I just couldn't handle the idea that I won't ever have a little one to sit on Santa's knee. 

It makes it especially hard when Christmas is made to be so child-centric. 

I don't blame Ted and his wife for opting out.  As many of you have already said, for someone without children it would be anywhere between tedious and downright uncomfortable to have to watch a bunch of kids open gifts.  Maybe Ted and his wife have been trying to have children and have been unable to.  Maybe they have chosen to be child-free and feel used -- I imagine this could be their line of reasoning given the LW's comments about how "wealthy" they are and how she and her sister are going to have a hard time explaining to their kids that Uncle Ted just "doesn't care about them".  Way to teach your kids the value of giving, LW!!!  Whatever the reason, giving a gift is a choice.  Ted and his wife have chosen to give their gifts to their goddaughter and to a child in need.  That is entirely their right.  It is not, however, the right of LW to tell Ted how he is supposed to spend his money just to "prove" how much he cares for her kids.

LW sounds like a greedy and ungrateful twit.  And I have a feeling her kids are being raised to follow quite closely in her footsteps.

Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: magicdomino on December 18, 2013, 02:33:11 PM
Ahem.  For the record, I did get a nice present at the family gathering on Sunday.  My great-nephew told me that I was a "cool aunt."  High praise, indeed, from a 16-year-old.  And this is despite me helping his parents try to convince him that being the first person to die on Mars would be an excellent career move (Yes, we are weird.)

Of course, the credit card knife that I gave him for Christmas might have had something to do with it. . . .    8)
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: proudmama on December 18, 2013, 06:02:10 PM
I'm actually on both sides of this.  In my DHs family, my kids are the youngest of the nieces and nephews.  On my side of the family, they are the oldest, the difference between my youngest and the next oldest child is 6 years, lots of little ones on my side.

We always exchanged gifts with my DHs family.  Once the first niece was born, my SIL made it all about the kids (even though there was only one child).  So we all bought for just the niece.  Now that her kids are entering adulthood, she thinks that we should completely stop buying gifts for the kids, not just her kids, but all of the kids.  I have to admit that I feel a little annoyed.  And I totally get how the brother could be feeling used for his money. 

When I had my first, I asked my siblings to just buy gifts for him, not me or DH.  We kept buying gifts for them and their significant others.  When my brother had his first, we stopped buying for him and his DW, and just started buying for the baby.  But my other siblings still got gifts.  Now they all have kids, so just the kids get gifts.  A few years ago, I started including a gift membership to either the zoo, aquarium or science museum.  My brother's oldest calls it the gift that keeps on giving.   :)
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: SCMagnolia on December 19, 2013, 08:53:52 AM
Quote
When I had my first, I asked my siblings to just buy gifts for him, not me or DH.  We kept buying gifts for them and their significant others.  When my brother had his first, we stopped buying for him and his DW, and just started buying for the baby.  But my other siblings still got gifts.  Now they all have kids, so just the kids get gifts.  A few years ago, I started including a gift membership to either the zoo, aquarium or science museum.  My brother's oldest calls it the gift that keeps on giving.

This is a great solution, ProudMama!   And I love the idea of adding the gift membership.  In addition to it being very thoughtful, it includes the whole family and is a great way to fight those cabin-fever or summer vacation boredom days and is educational in a fun, doesn't-feel-so-educational way!
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: GlitterIsMyDrug on December 19, 2013, 09:15:05 AM
I'm kind of happy that Partner and I are still "the kids" to both of our families. I have cousins who have kids, but we aren't close to the cousins or the kids. We don't have kids, I don't have siblings, and her siblings don't have kids either. Her sister doesn't want any and her brother is starting the adoption process with his partner, so we might have one in the family soon, but not yet.

I think I'd have problems buying "just for the kids" in general, because I like buying people gifts, at least a little something. BTW I'm the worst person to buy for. I want very little, and I buy what I want when I want it. Every year, someone asks me what I want and I tell them "Oh, I don't care, I'm sure I'll like anything you give me!" because generally that is true. Or I ask for a unicorn. So if someone told me they were going to buy only for the kids I'd be like "Yeah, I get that, that's easier, here's what the kid(s) want", but I'd probably still buy them a present regardless of their offspring status.

A few years ago, I started including a gift membership to either the zoo, aquarium or science museum.

We're doing this for my BFF and her husband this year, they go with her brother and one of the kids she works with all the time, they used to have a memebership but gave it up to save money, so we decided to get one for them. We're looking at doing one for my friend and her kids who live out of state as well. It's an awesome gift!

I did ask my mom for a memebership to our science center for Christmas once (see above, impossible to buy for), but she didn't get why I'd want that because I'm a grown up without kids.  ::) (because I'm a grown up I bought my own)
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Venus193 on December 19, 2013, 10:21:41 AM
I also find it easier and more fun to buy things for teens and adults.

When Brunhilde's son was about 4 or 5 I attended his birthday parties.  He got so many things that made so much noise I was grateful to not be a parent myself.  I remember posting a discussion question somewhere asking whether kids' toys are noisier today than in past generations and many people -- all parents -- said "yes."
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: TootsNYC on December 19, 2013, 12:28:24 PM
I think I'd have problems buying "just for the kids" in general, because I like buying people gifts, at least a little something.

I really dislike the "just gifts for the kids" idea. Partly bcs I like giving (and, TBH, getting) gifts, but also because I really don't like to give kids the idea that they're special in a way grownups aren't.
   Don't get me wrong--I like kids to feel special, and they aren't just like grownups, so they do deserve consideration that grownups don't get (eating first, bcs they're hungrier and less patient, stuff like that). But for them to get gifts, while others don't, is not a lesson I think kids should learn.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Saki_Fiz on December 19, 2013, 12:34:41 PM
My husband and I are childfree.  I have two sisters with children (husband is an only child).

My sister with two kids still does the gift exchange.  Her family exchanges with my family.  So she buys for the two of us, and I buy for the four of them.  I am totally happy with this because it's still an exchange.  Same applies to birthdays.

My sister with four kids asked to bow out of the gift exchange for the adults, but somehow, the kids got left in.  So I buy for her four kids, yet we receive nothing.  Same for birthdays.  So in total, I am on the hook for 8 gifts each year, while we receive nothing.  And it hurts.  I can give you a dozen rational reasons why this shouldn't matter at all (I love my nieces and nephews, my husband and I can afford the gifts, we really don't need more stuff, etc etc etc)... but it still hurts.  And I haven't figured out how to explain this to her.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: HelenB on December 19, 2013, 12:51:07 PM
We hit this with my husband's mother's annual family Christmas party. She would have him and his sister, and his step-brothers/sisters and all spouses over for a really nice meal.  The adults were assigned one person to buy for, the month before, and each adult got a gift at the party.

When kids started coming along (Mr B and I are childless), we were still doing a name draw for the adults, but each kid was getting presents from each of the pairs of aunt-uncles.  Then one year they decided it was too expensive to get the adults a present, so it became kids only for presents. 

It really pretty boring sitting  and watching the kids open their presents.  Especially since almost immediately they'd start to fight over them and run around screaming and yelling. Some times we would skip the gift opening and start the clean up, just to get away from the din.

My MIL moved down south, and none of the step-sibs stepped up to start hosting it.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Peregrine on December 19, 2013, 05:01:16 PM
It's rather interesting seeing how many people hate the "lets just buy for the kids thing."  We just instituted this with my hubby's side of the family this year.  We have always done gift cards and family pictures by agreement for ease of mailing, since we are all far away from each other.  But when we all traded $50 REI gift cards amongst the adults last year, we decided to just quit exchanging among the grown ups with kids.  The single sister still gets a gift in her own right since she generously gifts the kids.  However, the other childfree sibling and spouse got dropped completely last year, after 12 years of no acknowledgement or reciprocation whatsoever of gifts....not even a Christmas card or call most years.

So while agree that in many families it can cause trouble, there is also a point where it becomes a bit ridiculous to keep gifting among the adults.  In both sides of our family we are at a very similar professional income level to each other, and for the most part if we see something we need or want, we just buy it when it's needed.  At this point in our lives, we are saving for a new couch and a new heat pump....not exactly something that someone else will want to or even be able to gift us with, to boot, I wouldn't want someone spending that kind of  money on me!
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: JeanFromBNA on December 19, 2013, 05:57:08 PM
The exchange of gift cards between adults has become pointless to me, too.  We give gifts to kids only (we don't live near family).  But I do like to be remembered with a card with a personal message or a phone call.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: MommyPenguin on December 20, 2013, 09:12:10 AM
We dropped gifts with adults because it's just a lot harder to buy for adults.  Especially adults who are very different with very different tastes and don't know each other super well.  I mean, I enjoy the company of my BIL and SIL, but I would have no idea what to buy them for presents.  I think that's when you get into the gift card exchange.

The kids just seem easier to buy for.  LEGOs!  Hee hee.  Well, actually, we tend to buy their boys a lot of LEGOs, sometimes other building toys, etc.  They (mostly my SIL) love to buy our girls pink frilly clothes and girly toys because, well, they don't have any girls and my SIL is a girly girl.  I think that we honestly enjoy exchanging kid gifts.

So sometimes it's not so much "it's all about the kids," but just that kids are easier to buy for.  Although, my husband and I would be perfectly happy if anybody wanted to buy us LEGOs.  I think I might be getting a K'Nex roller coaster for Christmas, as my in-laws asked me which one I want.  :)  Of course I'm a grown-up, why do you ask?
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Peregrine on December 20, 2013, 10:39:23 AM
Although, my husband and I would be perfectly happy if anybody wanted to buy us LEGOs.  I think I might be getting a K'Nex roller coaster for Christmas, as my in-laws asked me which one I want.  :)  Of course I'm a grown-up, why do you ask?

I love Legos!  This year, my little guy is turning 3 and graduating to "Big Boy" Legos....with adult supervision of course.  We started his Lego collection when he was in utero :)   Of course, I have been eyeballing the model of the Sydney Opera House....I don't even want to speculate on the price of that!
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: VorFemme on December 20, 2013, 11:17:01 AM
My husband and I are childfree.  I have two sisters with children (husband is an only child).

My sister with two kids still does the gift exchange.  Her family exchanges with my family.  So she buys for the two of us, and I buy for the four of them.  I am totally happy with this because it's still an exchange.  Same applies to birthdays.

My sister with four kids asked to bow out of the gift exchange for the adults, but somehow, the kids got left in.  So I buy for her four kids, yet we receive nothing.  Same for birthdays.  So in total, I am on the hook for 8 gifts each year, while we receive nothing.  And it hurts.  I can give you a dozen rational reasons why this shouldn't matter at all (I love my nieces and nephews, my husband and I can afford the gifts, we really don't need more stuff, etc etc etc)... but it still hurts.  And I haven't figured out how to explain this to her.
She's not thinking about YOU at all - but still expects YOU to think about her family - at least to the extent of getting 8 gifts a year for her kids while she apparently doesn't even send birthday cards.....or phone you to meet for lunch once in a while.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Figgie on December 20, 2013, 12:18:38 PM
"Ted" posts in the Caroline Hax's online chat today.  It's about halfway down the chat which is located here:

http://live.washingtonpost.com/carolyn-hax-live-131220.html
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: MindsEye on December 20, 2013, 12:30:33 PM
My husband and I are childfree.  I have two sisters with children (husband is an only child).

My sister with two kids still does the gift exchange.  Her family exchanges with my family.  So she buys for the two of us, and I buy for the four of them.  I am totally happy with this because it's still an exchange.  Same applies to birthdays.

My sister with four kids asked to bow out of the gift exchange for the adults, but somehow, the kids got left in.  So I buy for her four kids, yet we receive nothing.  Same for birthdays.  So in total, I am on the hook for 8 gifts each year, while we receive nothing.  And it hurts.  I can give you a dozen rational reasons why this shouldn't matter at all (I love my nieces and nephews, my husband and I can afford the gifts, we really don't need more stuff, etc etc etc)... but it still hurts.  And I haven't figured out how to explain this to her.

What would happen if you just... stopped buying presents for the kids?  Or at least stopped buying the birthday presents?  Would your sistes call you up and demand to know where they were?

Have you tried saying something like "When I buy birthday and holiday gifts for your kids, and you don't get me anything for the holidays or acknowledge my birthday at all, I feel used and undervalued.  So since you are obviously not interested in any kind of exchange, I am going to cut way back on (or stop entirely) getting presents for your kids."
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: TootsNYC on December 20, 2013, 12:36:51 PM
But when we all traded $50 REI gift cards amongst the adults last year
.....

there is also a point where it becomes a bit ridiculous to keep gifting among the adults.

Well, it is if you do it like that!

The point of gifts is the thought--"it's the thought that counts."

And so thinking of the other person is a huge part of the exercise. That's what supposed to be the "thought," not just the "I thought I'd get you a present."

You can draw names among the adults, and then spent a whole year eavesdropping or picking other people's brains to find out something they'd like--a want, not a need. Set a low-ish limit, so people are willing to take a flyer on a gift because they won't feel like they're wasting a lot of money.

or decide that it has to be an "experience" gift, or edible/use-up-able.

But you do have to be willing to invest some energy and thought.

"Ted" posts in the Caroline Hax's online chat today.  It's about halfway down the chat which is located here:

http://live.washingtonpost.com/carolyn-hax-live-131220.html
Oooh, I'm so happy! Thanks, Figgie. Off to read.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: MindsEye on December 20, 2013, 12:45:22 PM
"Ted" posts in the Caroline Hax's online chat today.  It's about halfway down the chat which is located here:

http://live.washingtonpost.com/carolyn-hax-live-131220.html

Thanks!

I love "Ted"'s response.  :)

Frankly, I have always thought that Christmas was for everyone (not just the kids!) and that the present exchange is exactly that... an exchange

I just don't see how it would be at all selfish to say that because the exchange has become completely one-sided (where you are expected to give, but don't get anything) you will not participate at all anymore.

Can I also say that I was amused - in a sad way - that the outraged sibling in the original letter's reaction to "Ted"''s decision to pull the present train to a halt was NOT to try to figure out how to make sure that "Ted" and his wife felt included (maybe by getting them some presents??) but instead was to try to figure out how to force "Ted" and his wife to continue to shell out presents for the kids?

I sure hope that "Ted" has a happy Christmas this year!
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: TootsNYC on December 20, 2013, 12:54:59 PM
I like that point about it being an exchange. And if you've got a biggish family, put everybody's name into the pot and everybody draw one out. Even the little kids.

So 6yo Susie has to buy a present for 57-year-old Uncle Joe. It'll be a great experience for her! And--bonus points!!--she'll feel a lot closer to Uncle Joe. Draw names in July, and give yourself time to stalk the other person's Facebook page, listen carefully to conversations at Thanksgiving, and ask Aunt Mary for ideas.
  Of course, Susie has to do the thinking, choosing, and buying. And so what if her idea is to get him a box of the big aluminum foil because she heard him saying "That big aluminum foil is really handy!" at Thanksgiving.
   That's the point--it's Susie's thoughts about Uncle Joe. And if Uncle Joe is in the right mindset, he'll love that aluminum foil for the 6years it takes him to use it up, because Susie got it for him.

I think if it's "all about the kids," the kids need to go some -giving- as well! That's the fun part.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: GlitterIsMyDrug on December 20, 2013, 03:16:26 PM
  Of course, Susie has to do the thinking, choosing, and buying. And so what if her idea is to get him a box of the big aluminum foil because she heard him saying "That big aluminum foil is really handy!" at Thanksgiving.
   That's the point--it's Susie's thoughts about Uncle Joe. And if Uncle Joe is in the right mindset, he'll love that aluminum foil for the 6years it takes him to use it up, because Susie got it for him.

I think if it's "all about the kids," the kids need to go some -giving- as well! That's the fun part.

I loved giving gifts to my adults (mom and grandparents mostly) as a kid. One year I decided to buy my grandma two big cans of hairspray because she wore a ton of hairspray (seriously, I think she went through more in one week then entire cast of Designing Women in a month), so of course she liked hairspray and could always use it so I bought her two big cans.

I was 7 or 8. So it's been about 2 decades, she still talks about the year I gave her hairspray and how it was one of the best gifts ever.

I always felt very grown up picking out gifts for the adults in my life. After all, I was buying grown up things for grown ups!
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: AnnaJ on December 20, 2013, 06:33:31 PM
   I think if it's "all about the kids," the kids need to go some -giving- as well! That's the fun part.

This ^^.

Giving gifts can be as fun as getting gifts, and that's something kids should have the chance to experience.  Giving only to kids works if everyone has kids - if not, then it doesn't.

Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: MommyPenguin on December 20, 2013, 07:57:45 PM
I agree.  I think it's so much fun to see what they come up with.  One of mine is getting "Grandpa," who loves M&Ms, a little bag of M&Ms.  :)  The other is giving him an invisible miniature baby elephant, because who wouldn't want one of those?  She has a box with a half-eaten cashew in it, because she had to put a "peanut" in there with the elephant while he waited to be opened, and he ate half of it.  Sometimes their presents are adorable, sometimes they're like... WHAT?  But it gives you an interesting glimpse into how they see you by what presents they choose for you.  They know I'm practical, so they get me dish towels and notepads and things like that.  Ha.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Outdoor Girl on December 20, 2013, 09:22:50 PM
My best friends now live a long way away from me.  We decided long ago not to exchange gifts for birthday and Christmas because we wouldn't always see each other.  So we got away from it and only exchange if we see each other near Christmas.

My one friend had a daughter so I started buying for her and then give a family gift of homemade cookies and some other edibles.

She buys me something for Christmas, in exchange.

It works for us.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Tea Drinker on December 20, 2013, 10:55:02 PM
I agree.  I think it's so much fun to see what they come up with.  One of mine is getting "Grandpa," who loves M&Ms, a little bag of M&Ms.  :)  The other is giving him an invisible miniature baby elephant, because who wouldn't want one of those?  She has a box with a half-eaten cashew in it, because she had to put a "peanut" in there with the elephant while he waited to be opened, and he ate half of it.  Sometimes their presents are adorable, sometimes they're like... WHAT?  But it gives you an interesting glimpse into how they see you by what presents they choose for you.  They know I'm practical, so they get me dish towels and notepads and things like that.  Ha.

I want an invisible miniature elephant! And I think my brother-in-law would be absolutely delighted by one: he collects elephants and has an elephant tattoo.
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Emmy on December 21, 2013, 06:38:38 AM
The attitude of Ted appalls me. The wealth of the family has nothing to do with it.

I'm working with my 1969 budget here: The giving should be done to the individual, not family. I would give each person the equivalent of $10. If Abby has 3 kids and Bea has a husband 1 kid, Abby's family gets about $40 and Bea's family about $30, and L and I as a couple hope for $20 if we have no kids. )Not expect, hope. And yes, a couple gift of $20 for Ms Bea & spouse (blender!) will do.

If we agree for kids only, I'd give Abby's family a total of $30 and Bea's family $10, and not hope for something in return. It's for the person, not the family.

So, Ted thinks that his nieces and nephews are worthless because he doesn't get a gift? I really am judgmental about people like that, but then, I guess Ted doesn't care a whole lot about what I think of him.

The whole thing about Christman giving and the angst it causes just is so weird to me. And yes, I am a Christian living in the US all of my life - Santa Claus fable and all, but I just don't get it.

Edited: nothing and something are not the same thing!

I have to disagree.  It is Ted's siblings attitude that is appalling.  They think Ted owes their children gifts which comes across as extremely entitled and seem very put out that Ted dares to spend his money for less fortunate children, yet won't participate in the family gift exchange.  The fact that Ted does spend money for charity shows that he is willing to give without getting something back.  Maybe Ted never agreed to the children only policy or the children from his family were greedy and unthankful and he was tired of it (it wouldn't surprise me based on the parents' attitude).  My siblings and I stopped exchanging gifts.  They are both childless and I am a mother of 2.  If they get a gift for my kids, I am grateful.  If they don't, I am certainly not upset.  I can't imagine demanding they get my kids gifts, especially if I don't get anything for them.

I also have to disagree that Ted not getting gifts means he thinks his nieces and nephews are worthless.  There are a myriad of other reasons not to give gifts.  They may be very hard to shop for, not have a close relationship, or unappreciative of gifts in the past.  If not getting a gift for somebody means you equate them with being worthless, would that mean Ted and his wife were worthless because nobody got their family a gift?
Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: blarg314 on December 23, 2013, 12:13:45 AM

I quite liked Fred's response in this week's Carolyn Hax. He sounds like a reasonable guy, who just reached his limit when it came to demands from his siblings.

Quote
What we will no longer do is just give, give, give and sit there for *hours* like little kids pressed with our noses up against the glass. It is absolutely true that we don't need anything (though who can't "use" a good bottle of wine at any time??) But neither do they.

I also think that it's important for the children to learn to *give*, not just to get - to think about what sort of gift someone will like, and pick it out or make something, and as they get older take into consideration things like price, and have the fun of watching someone open something you chose or made.  If you've got kids who get a giant pile of gifts at Christmas and birthday, without having to think about giving, that tends not to end well.

My mom gives magazine subscriptions to her grandkids, once they're old enough (Chickadee and the like). They've got more than enough toys, but the magazine comes every month and gives them something to look forward to through the year.

Title: Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
Post by: Saki_Fiz on December 24, 2013, 01:14:37 PM
My husband and I are childfree.  I have two sisters with children (husband is an only child).

My sister with two kids still does the gift exchange.  Her family exchanges with my family.  So she buys for the two of us, and I buy for the four of them.  I am totally happy with this because it's still an exchange.  Same applies to birthdays.

My sister with four kids asked to bow out of the gift exchange for the adults, but somehow, the kids got left in.  So I buy for her four kids, yet we receive nothing.  Same for birthdays.  So in total, I am on the hook for 8 gifts each year, while we receive nothing.  And it hurts.  I can give you a dozen rational reasons why this shouldn't matter at all (I love my nieces and nephews, my husband and I can afford the gifts, we really don't need more stuff, etc etc etc)... but it still hurts.  And I haven't figured out how to explain this to her.

What would happen if you just... stopped buying presents for the kids?  Or at least stopped buying the birthday presents?  Would your sistes call you up and demand to know where they were?

Have you tried saying something like "When I buy birthday and holiday gifts for your kids, and you don't get me anything for the holidays or acknowledge my birthday at all, I feel used and undervalued.  So since you are obviously not interested in any kind of exchange, I am going to cut way back on (or stop entirely) getting presents for your kids."

I am actually incredibly close to the non-gifting sister (she does send cards).  We talk on the phone often (live in different states), and often turn to each other for advice. Which it why it's so awkward to bring up the gifts.  It's such a little part of our overall interaction.  But the main reason I think I don't bring it up is that I don't really know what I want the resolution to be (gifts for adults, less gifts for kids, etc).   I've really need to figure that out before I talk to her about.  So yes, it hurts.  But luckily, for me, it's not the main interaction between my sister and me.

I do understand completely why the couple in the OP would back out.  Especially if the gift giving was the main form of interaction between the families.