Author Topic: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts  (Read 5278 times)

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CakeBeret

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Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« on: January 14, 2013, 03:18:02 PM »
Some background: Mom is very into receiving Christmas gifts from her kids. An insufficient or unliked Christmas gift will definitely be complained about, either to the giver or to a third party. I am still a little hurt from an incident when I was about 10 and a gift I gave wasn't good enough.

Different background: Mom and my brother Chris had a falling out about 15 years ago. Both were somewhat to blame, but Mom said/did some nearly unforgivable things to Chris. About 8 years ago Mom started trying to renew contact, and Chris finally responded and renewed contact 3 years ago. Both Mom and Chris are kind of skittish still: Mom is afraid of offending Chris, and Chris is afraid of getting hurt. Chris and I share some social anxiety issues and he tends to be pretty aloof. He's also not very good at gift-giving.

The situation: Christmas. I organized a photo session with all the grandchildren, including Chris's daughter. We wrapped an 8x10 photo of them and gave it to Mom, from the grandkids. My siblings and I all gave Mom gifts in addition to this. Chris's gift to her was a framed 8x10 of his daughter, Marilyn. The picture is not a professional photo, it's a snapshot of Marilyn playing, and the photo was taken about 1-1.5 years ago.

Shortly after Christmas, Mom said to me, "Did you see what Chris gave me for Christmas? It's a photo of Marilyn that's two years old." in a rather nasty tone. I brushed it off, said that it was such a cute photo, and beandipped.

I saw Mom again last night and she said the exact same thing again, in the exact same nasty tone. "Did you see what Chris gave me for Christmas? It's a photo of Marilyn that's two years old."

A few possible responses ran through my mind:
-"You know, complaining about getting a picture of your grandbaby just makes you sound bitter."
-"You should be thankful that Chris is back in your life, that you saw him on Christmas, and that he gave you a gift."
-"I'm tired of you complaining about Christmas gifts."

Instead, I told her that perhaps Chris had wanted to give her a photo, and that was the best one he could find.

What is the best way to handle these gift complaints? Is there a polite way to say "Stop your kvetching and be grateful" or is it better to make a noncommittal comment and beandip?

I guess I already know the answer. This is the woman who refused to speak to her son for 7 years, and who blew up at a 10 year old for an insufficient gift. Nothing I could say will change her. So what's the best way of dealing with her when she complains?
"From a procrastination standpoint, today has been wildly successful."

Millionaire Maria

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Re: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2013, 03:21:27 PM »
Don't respond at all. She sounds downright nasty. Just beandip and move on.
People everywhere enjoy believing in things they know are not true. It spares them the ordeal of thinking for themselves and taking responsibility for what they know. –Brooks Atkinson

onyonryngs

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Re: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2013, 03:22:05 PM »
You should be able to have a conversation with her about how the constant complaints make you and everyone else feel.  It's your mom, not some stranger.  Yes, etiquette comes into play a little bit, but you need to work out the relationship and sometimes that can't be done by following etiquette.  It might be good to talk to someone if you're still bothered by an incident when you were 10 though - that seems to be a long time to hold onto old wounds.

Mental Magpie

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Re: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2013, 03:30:26 PM »
Actually, I think your very first response that you thought but didn't say was the right way to go.  I don't think adding the second one onto it would hurt either.  Is it scolding?  Yes, but I think it's the ticket.  You can also add that it makes buying gifts for her a stressful task rather than the happy one it should be because you're afraid she'll say the same things about you to someone else.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

yokozbornak

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Re: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2013, 03:40:32 PM »
She's your mom so I think calling her out on is fine.  She needs to hear that she's acting like a spoiled, entitled brat (although I wouldn't use that wording exactly).  I come from a fairly toxic family, and I have learned that I need to speak up when I see something like this.  My mom has pulled stunts like this and then gets upset when my sisters won't speak to her or when her new husband walked out after a screaming fit.  She seems to honestly not make a connection between her over-the-top reactions and why she has strained relationships.  I like to think that being blunt has helped even though she can never undo some of the damage she has done.  She seems to be really trying to do better especially with her new husband.

The worst case scenario is that your mom gets angry at you and stops speaking to you, and that may not necessarily be a bad thing.

heartmug

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Re: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2013, 04:14:54 PM »
If it were me I would tell my mom "I would let it go mom.  You finally renewed your relationship with Chris, and his daughter, and I would let the little things go."  He might have thought that this was one of the best candid pictures of his daughter ever and that is why he gave it.  She doesn't know his thought behind the gift.
The trouble is not that the world is full of fools, it's just that lightening isn't distributed right.  - Mark Twain

Deetee

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Re: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2013, 04:21:11 PM »
First she is being ridiculous.

Second, because she is ridiculous and has always been like this I wouldn't attack directly. I would KILL with kindness.

"Oh that picture of his daughter? Isn't it just the cutest ever. I LOVE her expression. It is the epitome of carefree childhood. It is such a great choice to show exactly what a cheery and fun-loving kid she is. And the frame is just perfect. It is a lovely, lovely picture"

Basically be like a slippery ice wall that grants no purchase to any nasty comments.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2013, 04:56:20 PM »
Can I just start with WOW!  A grandmother actually verbally complaining about a gift of a photo of their grandchild.  And not once but twice. 

I like your first response, or I would have responded with a "Mom, did no one ever tell you complaining about a gift is mean, tacky, and rude?"

I say you and your siblings start a Christmas present boycott.  I think you guys should tell her somewhere around November that you realized that she has very specific taste in presents and many of you seem to fall short frequently based on her pattern of complaining.  So your combined gift to her this year is to elliminate the burden of your gifts so she'll have no need to be upset or complain.

MindsEye

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Re: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2013, 05:03:32 PM »
Woah... I can't believe that you and your siblings still bother to get her Christmas presents!  (Tell me... how does she gift you?  What would happen if one of you complained about a gift from her?)

I would remind your Mother that if she is trying to avoid being cut off by Chris again, bitter complaints about the perceived quality of a Christmas present from him is not the way to go! 

She had also better hope that none of the people that she has complained to (I highly doubt that you were the only recipient of her kvetching) reports what she said back to Chris.

CakeBeret

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Re: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2013, 05:28:31 PM »
Woah... I can't believe that you and your siblings still bother to get her Christmas presents!  (Tell me... how does she gift you?  What would happen if one of you complained about a gift from her?)

She's given me some real winners in the past. ::) These days, though, we're all asked to pick out what we want and she buys it. If we ask her what she wants she says "Oh, I don't need anything" or "All I want for Christmas is to have all my family with me."
"From a procrastination standpoint, today has been wildly successful."

Iris

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Re: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2013, 05:32:20 PM »

-"I'm tired of you complaining about Christmas gifts."


"...It's very rude, and I for one am going to stop buying you gifts at all if you can't stop complaining about them. Your gift is to have your grandchild and your son in your life, but if you want them gone again you're going the right way about it."

Then again, I am getting a bit blunt in my not-all-that-old age.
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Octavia

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Re: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2013, 05:33:49 PM »
Woah... I can't believe that you and your siblings still bother to get her Christmas presents!  (Tell me... how does she gift you?  What would happen if one of you complained about a gift from her?)

She's given me some real winners in the past. ::) These days, though, we're all asked to pick out what we want and she buys it. If we ask her what she wants she says "Oh, I don't need anything" or "All I want for Christmas is to have all my family with me."
Then give her what she wants. And if she complains about not getting a wrapped gift, remind her that family togetherness is all she asked for.
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kckgirl

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Re: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2013, 06:01:36 PM »
Personally, I'd go with #3:


-"I'm tired of you complaining about Christmas gifts."


And I'd add, "Please stop it." I'd also remind her about the years without your brother and nephew and maybe she should think about not being so nasty.
Maryland

Cami

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Re: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2013, 06:12:33 PM »
My mother had the same tendency and I too have a childhood memory of being hurt at her dismissiveness of a gift into which I'd put thought, time and effort. Interestingly enough, she insisted that my sister and I not only accept gifts graciously and never complain about them, but she also made us wear some spectacularly hideous crochet garments an aunt made for us every year. In public. Ugh. So as not to hurt that aunt's feelings.

But she could complain and kvetch about her gifts and in the gift situation that still stings, throw away my gift in front of me.

When I became an adult, I decided that I was not going to put up with it any more and simply called her on it. I said something like, "Apparently you were taught the lesson of accepting a gift graciously, but don't use it yourself. Let me tell you that the next time you complain about a gift I give you, it will be the last gift I give you."

In our case, by the time I said that to my mother, I had become known in the family for being "tough" and "stubborn" (which meant I no longer kowtowed to their wishes 100% of the time) and my mother decided that I would make good on my promises. She made one more comment and I immediately said, "HEY! What did I say?" And that was the end of that. Never again.

I would have made good on the promise too.

I think when you have a parent like that, in some ways you have to treat them like your child -- state the consequences of an action and then follow through on it.

Roe

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Re: Mom still complaining about Christmas gifts
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2013, 06:56:00 PM »
She complained about a gift you got for her when you were 10?!?!  Oh my goodness, I'm still trying to wrap my mind about that!  I just can't imagine doing that to my 9y/o son!  How hurtful that must've been for you.  I'm sorry but I don't think much of your mother, even though I don't know her.  As a PP said, that's pretty nasty of her.