Author Topic: An Annoying Gift  (Read 2538 times)

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sevenday

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An Annoying Gift
« on: December 26, 2011, 10:26:55 AM »
I have a small list of grievances about how Christmas Morning went, but I'll address one of them here: the Definitely Unwanted, Unasked For, and Personally Offensive gift.  I am agnostic, and while I haven't been in-your-face to people about it, it's fairly obvious that I do not practice religion -- especially not the version of Christianity my father apparently follows, though he hasn't been to church since before I was born that I know of.  (I'm almost 30.)  Nevertheless... My dad made a big production of handing me a present yesterday, and stood by proudly while I opened it.  It had the shape and weight of a book, and I hoped it was something I'd been looking for off of my Amazon list for quite a while.  Instead, I unwrapped a bible.  Not just any bible, no - one monogrammed with my first name on the corner of the front cover.  I tell you, Ehellions, it was a mighty struggle not to let my emotions show on my face.  I managed to turn to my father and thank him politely for the present, and put it down in the laundry basket I'd used to transport presents to my sister's house. 

What on earth made him think that was something that I would want much less appreciate?  I suspect he'll ask me about it, and I don't know what to say. I WANT to tell him it was an inconsiderate gift, but... I'm struggling.  I think Dad thought he was doing something good, but... ARGH. 

JillyJ

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Re: An Annoying Gift
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2011, 10:47:22 AM »
I have a small list of grievances about how Christmas Morning went, but I'll address one of them here: the Definitely Unwanted, Unasked For, and Personally Offensive gift.  I am agnostic, and while I haven't been in-your-face to people about it, it's fairly obvious that I do not practice religion -- especially not the version of Christianity my father apparently follows, though he hasn't been to church since before I was born that I know of.  (I'm almost 30.)  Nevertheless... My dad made a big production of handing me a present yesterday, and stood by proudly while I opened it.  It had the shape and weight of a book, and I hoped it was something I'd been looking for off of my Amazon list for quite a while.  Instead, I unwrapped a bible.  Not just any bible, no - one monogrammed with my first name on the corner of the front cover.  I tell you, Ehellions, it was a mighty struggle not to let my emotions show on my face.  I managed to turn to my father and thank him politely for the present, and put it down in the laundry basket I'd used to transport presents to my sister's house. 

What on earth made him think that was something that I would want much less appreciate?  I suspect he'll ask me about it, and I don't know what to say. I WANT to tell him it was an inconsiderate gift, but... I'm struggling.  I think Dad thought he was doing something good, but... ARGH.

How I view this would be based on your relationship with your dad.  If you are close, but he is a tad forgetful or flakey, he may have just spaced out on whether or not this would be a good gift.  If your relationship is more combative, then he may be trying to "bring you into the fold" so to speak.  If you think he thought he was doing something good, then you should probably just accept it at that and move on, but if you think this wasn't a backhanded manipulation, there is not reason to tell him the gift was inconsiderate.  You don't have to keep the Bible if you don't want it, even though it has your name on it, you can donate it.  As for his not attending church, I know a lot of religious people who don't attend church for a variety of reasons.   

Danismom

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Re: An Annoying Gift
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2011, 11:07:42 AM »
Perhaps he understands agnosticism differently than you do and thought he was being helpful.  Agnosticism is often (mis)understood to be a position of exploration where the agnostic is generally saying "I haven't decided yet what I believe to be true about the Divine or even if there is a Divine".  Atheism on the other hand says "There is no g-d".  Perhaps your father thought that he was giving you a tool for your continued exploration of all religions and beliefs about g-d since you haven't concretely said you are atheist.  Perhaps if that was his goal though, the personalization was over the top. 

Given your description of yourself and how you've portrayed how you handle the issues of religion in your family, I would not have expected the gift to be "offensive".  Some of the problem may be that he doesn't realize your feelings on religion.

Here's a link to the debate about what agnosticism really means: http://atheism.about.com/od/aboutagnosticism/a/commitment.htm

sevenday

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Re: An Annoying Gift
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2011, 11:44:58 AM »
My relationship with my father is... um.  I wouldn't say close.  He was quite abusive, mentally and emotionally, up until about two years ago when he started having more health issues and had to retire from his job.  It seems like this new role suddenly made him more interested in trying to mend fences with his family members.  His behavior has been greatly improved since then, and I am trying not to hold past transgressions against him.   He is stubborn and difficult to get along with still, though.  Which leads to the next point:  religion is not something that is generally discussed in the family mostly because of Dad.  He insists that his version is The Version to follow, and has become upset in the past when people (not just me) didn't respond to his comments.  Religious themed gifts are definitely abnormal in the entire family in general.  This is the first religious-themed gift I can EVER remember being given or received by anyone -- in nearly 30 years -- so I am wondering why he chose me of all people to give it to.

I used the word agnostic, but in truth it's more of a... between agnosticism and atheism.  I believe there is a higher power of some designation and there is something there after death, but that personal faith is just that, personal, and that the rules set forth in writings are not necessarily the rules that I must follow.  I have read some texts, including the various Christian Bibles, but I do not personally own any, and never have.  There is only one Bible that I know of that exists in my parents' house, and it is sitting in the same place that it's been in for the last 20+ years, untouched.   I have actually mentioned my personal beliefs in a family setting before, and it sparked one of Dad's arguments.  It's been a few years since that, though. I don't know if Dad remembers that argument at all - but he has performed a bit of history revision before (he claims he never hit me - all other family members remember differently). 

My problem here is that I want to discourage him from giving such gifts in the future.  I recognize that he probably meant well, but... I don't want to insult him by saying "ew, your gift sucks, don't do that again!"  -- but I don't want another one!  This is why I'm turning to you lovely eHellions for help.

JillyJ

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Re: An Annoying Gift
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2011, 11:52:17 AM »
Hmmm...well, I'm not sure there's a e-hell friendly way to say, "Wow, don't get me anything in that category again."  But it sounds like your parents are still together (based on you saying the untouched bible is in their house), so perhaps you could mention to your mom (unless it was from both of them) that it seemed like an odd choice.  I can understand not wanting to get religious based gifts (I'm an atheist, myself), but I think you are still stuck with simply saying thank you (which you did) and then dealing with the gift itself as you see fit.  And I wouldn't expect it to become a recurring theme.  If it does, you could revisit tactics for dealing with it then.   

sevenday

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Re: An Annoying Gift
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2011, 12:00:09 PM »
Jilly -  they are still married (why, I don't know... they can't stand each other most of the time) -- my mother did not know that my dad bought this for me.  She was surprised when I opened it, and I think she may have picked up on my own surprise.  I can talk to her, but I don't know if she'll be able to mention it to Dad without starting the same massive argument that would ensue if *I* told him, you know? 

I'm also uncertain what to do with the bible itself.  According to the price on the back of the thing, it's a $50 People's Parallel Bible, whatever that is.  I don't know who would take it as a donation.

JillyJ

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Re: An Annoying Gift
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2011, 12:05:11 PM »
Jilly -  they are still married (why, I don't know... they can't stand each other most of the time) -- my mother did not know that my dad bought this for me.  She was surprised when I opened it, and I think she may have picked up on my own surprise.  I can talk to her, but I don't know if she'll be able to mention it to Dad without starting the same massive argument that would ensue if *I* told him, you know? 

I'm also uncertain what to do with the bible itself.  According to the price on the back of the thing, it's a $50 People's Parallel Bible, whatever that is.  I don't know who would take it as a donation.

I would let it go then.  Why start a fight?  I know people who when faced with a "I don't want religious gifts" type fight, who would then continue to give such gifts. 

As for not knowing who would take it, I don't know where you are, but I'm thinking a hospital (they often have small chapels) or a woman's shelter, or some such like that.  A quick google search found this:

http://www.bibledonate.org/free_bibles_007.htm

So there are definitely places that will take it.

Danismom

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Re: An Annoying Gift
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2011, 12:30:31 PM »
A local hospital will almost certainly accept it.  That's a nice study Bible.  I suspect most mainstream churches would also welcome it as a donation.  Faith based women's shelters or homeless shelters are also a great idea.

Searcher

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Re: An Annoying Gift
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2011, 01:55:13 PM »
A local hospital will almost certainly accept it.  That's a nice study Bible.  I suspect most mainstream churches would also welcome it as a donation.  Faith based women's shelters or homeless shelters are also a great idea.

These all sound like good suggestions as to what to do with the Bible.

As to your father, I would not accept any gifts from him again.  I suppose you could say, "Dad, just to let you know, I am not religious.  You might not want to give me such a gift in the future, because it won't be accepted in the spirit that it's offered." Still, that could be too snarky, even though it doesn't sound like your father deserves better.

Adelaide

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Re: An Annoying Gift
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2011, 02:40:22 AM »
 I would suggest bringing it up, but for one thing: this sounds like a one-time issue. You said that your father's family bible has been gathering dust for years, so it doesn't sound like he has a variety of religious texts like concordances or bible studies that he uses regularly. Do you think there's even the possibility of him giving you another religious gift? Does he typically give religious gifts? If this is a one-time thing you might consider just gritting your teeth and bearing it so as to avoid a family argument.

cicero

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Re: An Annoying Gift
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2011, 03:54:56 AM »
I would treat it as any other misguided/weird choice gift - give away, sell, ignore it. i wouldn't mention it to him - mainly because i don't think it would help.

as for who to give it to - you can also try a university/library (i had to buy a new testement for a uni course i was taking; luckily i had been given a bible by some missionary group a few months prior so i used that one).

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