Author Topic: Returing gift: technically rude, but is it hurtful?  (Read 7696 times)

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Hmmmmm

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Re: Returing gift: technically rude, but is it hurtful?
« Reply #30 on: November 29, 2012, 11:12:17 AM »
snip

It doesn't take that much space, but my house is pretty cluttered and I'm trying to clear things out. I'm actually getting rid of things that have more sentimental value to me personally but that I no longer use (ex. figurines that I had in my childhood bedroom that just aren't suitable for "grown up" decor), and I'm keeping a number of other things that MIL has given that I just don't like. She has a knack of giving decorative gifts (framed photos, lamps) that are not my style at all, and we do display/use several of them in the name of not hurting her feelings. Maybe it's silly, but I'm drawing the line at this pie plate. It may end up with MIL, it may end up in goodwill, but it's not going to be here any longer!

If you are going through a clearing out phase then I think this does give you some leeway to get rid of it.  And since you are determined, then I think you should offer it back or to another family member.

"MIL, I'm really clearing out items in my home that I absolutely do not use, even getting rid of childhood momentos that I thought I'd always keep.  I came across the pie plate you gave me and realized I'll never use it as it's intended.  I don't want to donate it because I know you bought it in X.  Would you like it back or do you think SIL/aunt/grandchild would like it?"

The Wild One, Forever

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Re: Returing gift: technically rude, but is it hurtful?
« Reply #31 on: November 29, 2012, 01:37:55 PM »
Do you have children?  The reason I ask is that these kinds of items often have sentimental value to the next generation down.  It might become a bonding touchpoint between grandparent and grandchild, and worth "hanging on to" for that reason.

My grandmother made pillowcake cookies and chicken paprika from family recipes handed down for generations.  There are a total of eight grandchildren: only one of us (me) makes the chicken paprika and another of us (my cousin Wendy) makes the pillowcakes.  None of the parents/aunts/uncles do any of the dishes.

Please don't give it back.  You may be surprised when you get as "old" as I am, how much your own tastes change, what your children discover about their history and where they fit into it, and what it means to an overall mosaic of family.

Beautifully stated, and ITA. 
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Lynn2000

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Re: Returing gift: technically rude, but is it hurtful?
« Reply #32 on: November 29, 2012, 04:32:28 PM »
Personally, I don't think the OP should have to keep the object, if she no longer wants it. I appreciate hearing opinions otherwise, of course; just, coming from a family of keepers-boarding-on-hoarders, for whom every scrap of junk mail seems to have sentimental value, I tend to fall on the side of getting rid of things.

It sounds like she's already getting rid of things that have more meaning to her, and that she's already keeping several things solely because MIL finds them important. I think a nice gesture (though not etiquettely required) would be to keep a handful (like five) small things solely due to MIL's attachment to them, and make plans to get the rest out of the house. As I said earlier, I think I would start by just mentioning the pie plate to MIL, and seeing what her reaction is. That may indicate whether she would be hurt by its return or not.
~Lynn2000

Miss Unleaded

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Re: Returing gift: technically rude, but is it hurtful?
« Reply #33 on: November 29, 2012, 04:57:54 PM »
Given the update, if it were me I'd just be blunt and ask if she wants it back.  But if you want to try to take the sting from it, perhaps frame it as an issue of not having any spare space.  That you have to throw a lot of sentimental stuff away but could she please hold onto it 'for now' until you get a bigger home and more storage space?  Just tell her you regret the necessity of having to let it go but you couldn't bear to part with it forever.  With any luck she may forget about ever giving it back.

Kaypeep

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Re: Returing gift: technically rude, but is it hurtful?
« Reply #34 on: November 29, 2012, 06:17:49 PM »
Personally, I don't think the OP should have to keep the object, if she no longer wants it. I appreciate hearing opinions otherwise, of course; just, coming from a family of keepers-boarding-on-hoarders, for whom every scrap of junk mail seems to have sentimental value, I tend to fall on the side of getting rid of things.

It sounds like she's already getting rid of things that have more meaning to her, and that she's already keeping several things solely because MIL finds them important. I think a nice gesture (though not etiquettely required) would be to keep a handful (like five) small things solely due to MIL's attachment to them, and make plans to get the rest out of the house. As I said earlier, I think I would start by just mentioning the pie plate to MIL, and seeing what her reaction is. That may indicate whether she would be hurt by its return or not.

Agreed!  I wouldn't keep the pie plate.  There is no sentimental value to it other than the fact that MIL bought it on a trip and waited years to pass it off on someone else.  It's not like she used it herself for a long time and passed it on to carry the tradition.  MIL sounds like she likes to shop and give gifts.  Nothing wrong with that, but when she's giving things that aren't to the recipients taste, it doesn't deserve to be kept forever.  Not a pie plate or a lamp or picture frame or whatever.  It's a burden.  My mom is holding on to a ton of stuff "because it came from aunt/uncle so-and-so.  These things take up her cabinets and shelves and are never used.  Totally sentimental only, I suppose.  Neither my siblings nor I will ever use or keep any of them.  Once mom is gone, they will go to the Salvation Army or the trash. 

OP - Go with Miss Unleaded's approach.  Mention to MIL that you came across the pie plate while re-jiggering your kitchen/closet/whatever and you realized you've not actually used it.  Since it meant a lot to her, would she like it back for herself, or to pass on to someone else who might get more use out of it.  If she's hurt, then it's on her.  Technically it's yours now to do what you want with it.  You're being considerate in trying to find it a new home.  If she's offended because you don't use it then that's her burden, not yours.   You've already been gracious enough, it seems to me!

CakeEater

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Re: Returing gift: technically rude, but is it hurtful?
« Reply #35 on: November 29, 2012, 06:32:05 PM »
Given the update, if it were me I'd just be blunt and ask if she wants it back.  But if you want to try to take the sting from it, perhaps frame it as an issue of not having any spare space.  That you have to throw a lot of sentimental stuff away but could she please hold onto it 'for now' until you get a bigger home and more storage space?  Just tell her you regret the necessity of having to let it go but you couldn't bear to part with it forever.  With any luck she may forget about ever giving it back.

I like this idea- then if she makes 'pie', you can enthuse over how glad you are that she's using it, it's so wonderful that the 'plate' is in use etc, and after a few occasions, suggest that she hang onto it, because she's using it much better than you ever did.

Sophia

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Re: Returing gift: technically rude, but is it hurtful?
« Reply #36 on: November 29, 2012, 09:52:47 PM »
The thing is, the Pie Plate was sort of special to the giver, but not really.  She bought it with no one in mind.  Kept it for a while without giving it to anyone or using it.  She gave it to the OP without it having any meaning or importance to the OP.  It wasn't as if the OP was a baker of pies.  So, it wasn't like the gift was given with lots of thought behind it.  More like that it was in the pile of Generic Gifts people sometimes keep around.

CakeEater

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Re: Returing gift: technically rude, but is it hurtful?
« Reply #37 on: November 30, 2012, 04:01:04 AM »
The thing is, the Pie Plate was sort of special to the giver, but not really.  She bought it with no one in mind.  Kept it for a while without giving it to anyone or using it.  She gave it to the OP without it having any meaning or importance to the OP.  It wasn't as if the OP was a baker of pies.  So, it wasn't like the gift was given with lots of thought behind it.  More like that it was in the pile of Generic Gifts people sometimes keep around.

Good points.

TootsNYC

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Re: Returing gift: technically rude, but is it hurtful?
« Reply #38 on: November 30, 2012, 12:49:26 PM »
The thing is, the Pie Plate was sort of special to the giver, but not really.  She bought it with no one in mind.  Kept it for a while without giving it to anyone or using it.  She gave it to the OP without it having any meaning or importance to the OP.  It wasn't as if the OP was a baker of pies.  So, it wasn't like the gift was given with lots of thought behind it.  More like that it was in the pile of Generic Gifts people sometimes keep around.

Good points.

I agree. And so I'd just quietly send it on to some other place where MIL wouldn't notice.

blarg314

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Re: Returing gift: technically rude, but is it hurtful?
« Reply #39 on: November 30, 2012, 10:45:48 PM »

From a rude-not-rude perspective, I'd say that either offering it back to your MIL, (or another family member) or discreetly getting rid of it is fine. Once you receive a gift, it's yours to do with as you want, and if something has sentimental value to the giver (or is a family heirloom) it can be kind to give them rights of first refusal.

From a family dynamics perspective, though, it depends on how your MIL will react to you trying to give it back. If you think she'll get upset at being told that you don't use it, or try to force it back on you (and notice if you keep it or not), I'd say to go with discretely getting rid of it in a way that she won't find out about, and then if she wonders where it is, you can prevaricate. ("I packed a bunch of stuff away when decluttering, and I'm not sure where it is").

When you've got limited room, there's a definite limit to how much stuff you can keep hanging around to avoid hurting the giver's feelings. If you had tons of storage space, I'd say pack it away, and wait, and if she doesn't notice or ask about it in a couple of years get rid of it (or, for other items, bring them out occasionally). But if you're getting rid of stuff that has sentimental value to you, to keep stuff that has sentimental value to the person who gave it to, you've reached a tipping point, where something has to give.


Roe

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Re: Returing gift: technically rude, but is it hurtful?
« Reply #40 on: December 01, 2012, 01:34:48 PM »
Since the 'plate' is special to MIL, I'd offer it back to her.  Donating it (when you know MIL deems it special) seems a bit rude. 

cheyne

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Re: Returing gift: technically rude, but is it hurtful?
« Reply #41 on: December 01, 2012, 03:51:36 PM »
I think it would be OK to offer the plate back to MIL.  PP's have great suggestions about how to do it and what to say. 

If everyone kept everything they were given, whether for "posterity", to show their kids, or because the giver would be upset if the gift was not in the giftee's home; everyone would be buried under piles of "stuff".

I am starting a thread in the Coffee Break Folder.  "Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff"?".