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Did you like your present?

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Hi all, I've been away from posting for a while - hope everyone is well and enjoying 2013  :)

Let me preface this by saying I know it's the thought that counts, and I'm grateful to receive anything at all.  Just curious as to whether you Ehellions think honesty is the best policy?  I suppose some of this is sort of a knee-jerk sad reaction that my own mother doesn't know or care what I like?

My mother and I live in different countries and have a strained relationship; one in which I need to be very careful what I say or she gets offended and snarky very easily.  Having said that, we do speak reasonably often, and she knows what hobbies I participate in and what I enjoy doing.  She has a history of giving HORRID gifts on birthdays or Christmas.  An example of one such gift was a dress which was not my taste, and was a size too small.  She also made me try it on in front of company that we had over at Christmas, and it was too small.  It was very embarrassing.  She snarked at me that the reason it didn't fit was that I didn't like it and therefore did not try hard enough to fit it, (if anyone was wondering, this was not the case) I am very sensitive about my weight and this upset me.

She consistently buys me jewellery which I don't wear; I'm just not normally a jewellery person unless I've chosen the piece of jewellery.  I've spoken with my mother multiple times about the style of jewellery I like and pointed stuff out that I like to try and avoid pink pearl earrings, ( :o) but this doesn't work either.

Before Christmas I bought a new underwater camera, (I am an avid SCUBA diver - which she knows) and told her that if she wants to buy me a Christmas present this year, I would appreciate any sum of money she wanted to give me towards the camera, any time she liked.  She agreed, and I left it there.  I sent her some chocolate but never heard anything about my gift.  I knew that she had bought a new house and was not bothered if she didn't get me a gift - a card would have sufficed.  I tried to tell her that, but then she said she had sent me a present........

........I received yet another dress, not to my taste, too tight, and too hot for the climate where I live.....and more jewellery, which I don't like and I will never wear.  I sent an email saying I had received the present and thanked her for it.

Now the problem is that she keeps asking if I liked the present.  I bean dipped the first email she sent asking as I don't want to provoke an argument.  But now she has sent another one, asking the same question.  So my question is, should I tell her the truth?  Or should I lie and continue to receive gifts which just get stashed to the back of my closet never to see the light of day again?  Can I ask her to just send me a card?  Or am I a horrible person?   :-[

No, you're not a horrible person.  Nobody likes to be backed into a corner and forced to give an opinion when it's likely to start something. 

You could ask her to only send you a card, but she ignored your request for a sum of money towards the camera, so that might not work.  Whether or not you tell her the truth (which it sounds like you've tried to do before) would probably depend on your relationship with her, how she is likely to take it, and whether you think you can handle it. 

I'm really not the best at giving advice, but you could try responding with, "It's very nice," when asked if you liked a gift.  It's not exactly a lie; it would be very nice to someone who liked that style.  With any luck, your mother might take that as a yes and let the subject drop.

you are not a horrible person and your mother is acting very badly. Has she always been this way ? because i cannot understand her insisting you try on a dress and then berate you in front of company (and her logic? you "made" the dress be too small because you don't like it?).

I would suggest you take a deep breath and ignore the "gifts" you get from your mother. you are not going to like them, they are not what you want or asked for. they are not your size or taste. She is not listening to you (and seriously - I *don't* always buy that saying "it's the thought that counts" because sometimes it isn't). so play a little game with yourself ("I wonder how many pink beads will be on the earrings this year", or "I wonder how many sizes too small the dress will be"), smile, say thank you and then say not another word about it. change the subject. when she asks if you liked it? say "thank you" and then bean dip like mad. again and again. just keep repeating yourself "thank you. so did you see the new Tarantino movie?"

--- Quote from: radcat on January 16, 2013, 03:41:16 AM ---<snip> gifts which just get stashed to the back of my closet never to see the light of day again?

--- End quote ---
and please, for all that is holy and good - throw them away! stop feeling guilty about this - you don't need reminders of your mother's toxic behavior. out! goodwill, dumpster, white elephant, incinerator - whatever you need to do, just get them

It depends. I would be fine saying to my mum "It's really thoughtful of you, and it is a lovely dress / piece of jewelry, but it isn't my style" but as you mention that your relationship with her is strained, and as you've previously had conversations with her about the kinds of things you like, which she has ignored, it sounds as though it might not be OK for you. If that's the case, then I don't think I would tell her the truth in this instance. It seems likely that she would ignore it (in terms of future gift buying) but might well turn it into a reason to be unpleasant and I doubt you need that.

If you felt comfortable doing it I think you could go as far as saying "I was a bit surprised, as you'd asked me that I'd like, and I told you" or "It's a nice dress but unfortunately not my size" neither of which is critical of her taste.

If she carries on pushing she is being rude. Would saying something like "you know mum, I'm not sure what you expect me to say. If I didn't like it I could hardly say so!" be an option?  It avoids answering the question and might shut down further questions.

I do agree that there is no reason at all to keep the gifts. Give them to goodwill, or bin them, or e-bay them, whatever is easiest.

An no, you are absolutely*not* a horrible person.

I think Cicero's suggestion about expecting any future gifts to be hopeless is a good one. You can't control (and almost certainly can't change) you Mother's behavior, but you may be able to change the about of stress or hurt it causes you, if you start with the assumption that her gifts will be hopeless.

"I haven't been able to wear the dress because it is a size too small...I am a size X and the dress is a size X-2. Where did you get it? Maybe I can exchange it." 
"What did you think of the jewelry?"
"Mom, I really don't wear very much jewelry."


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