Author Topic: A birthday dilemma  (Read 4523 times)

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artk2002

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2013, 01:09:21 PM »
I think you should respect her stated wishes, wait until nowhere near her birthday, and give her the gift.  To ignore her wishes would be rude, dismissive and disrespectful.

I absolutely agree. Simply finding out the exact day doesn't remove the original restriction. This new information shouldn't change what OP and her DH do.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

snappylt

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2013, 01:39:32 PM »
Just ask, then respect her response.  'MIL, we noticed when filling out your ABC application that you have a birthday coming up next week.  How would you feel about having cake, just the three of us?' If she accepts, you can also offer something bigger while reassuring that you'd be glad to do whatever she wants - even if that's nothing.

Best wishes.

I agree with the "run it past her first" opinions if there is any chance at all that she might be upset.

Is there any chance at all that part of what she wants kept secret is her birth year and her exact age?  I am reminded of "Sarah", an elderly friend of my mother's maybe 25 or 30 years ago, who kept her license hidden so her friends couldn't see her birthdate.  Sarah was very angry when another friend (not my mother) snooped inside Sarah's purse one day, found Sarah's license, and told their circle of friends that Sarah was actually several years older than Sarah pretended to be.

Edited to add:  When my mother told this story, I remember my mother saying how disgusted she (my mother) was with the snooper, too.

The OP and her husband are not snoopers.  But I think if there is a chance that the MIL might (incorrectly) see it that way, they're better off checking with her first before they use the information for a surprise.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2013, 01:43:39 PM by snappylt »

sweetonsno

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2013, 03:09:00 AM »
I like all of the ideas I've seen so far. If she asked you to help with the paperwork, then she likely knows there is a possibility that you saw her b-day. There would be no problem, I think, asking her whether she would mind having a small get-together on her special day, particularly if you can think of another reason to acknowledge her (thanks for her help with planting the garden, congratulations on ten years in her current house, etc.). If she doesn't like "the fuss," then keep it between the three of you and just bring over cake/pizza.

If she says that she'd rather not, then hang onto the iPod case and give it to her as a "just because" gift in a few weeks.

bopper

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2013, 08:59:56 AM »
My GMIL always kept her real age hush hush.  No problem.  But then one time my ILs did a big party for the other GMIL for her 80th birthday.  GMIL said "Hey, where's my party?"  But GMIL, we didn't know you were 80!

AppleBlossom

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #19 on: July 29, 2013, 09:12:08 AM »
I keep my birthday, not birth year, secret (except from my parents and husband, obviously) so I can spend the day however I want. I'd be very upset to suddenly be forced to have a birthday party just because it's what some other family members or friends want. I've seen threads here on a similar issue, which is that some like to force surprise parties on others and just cannot understand why that would upset someone.

If you can't let the day pass in peace, as the birthday girl wishes, then I agree with the idea to send her the Ipad cover in the mail. That way she can privately deal with the disappointment of having accidentally let her secret slip. If you confront her with your knowledge in person, in the form of a gift and cake, she'll have to smile and pretend she's not unhappy.

Most importantly, think about why you're doing this. Is it really for her or do you want to flaunt your discovery and use social norms to make her miserable while you get to pretend to be the better person?

Edited to add: After posting, the first thread I saw was "Dear Prudence: My MIL redecorated my house." It's the same situation. The MIL did something "nice" for the son and his girlfriend, but it was really passive-aggressive. The girlfriend can't even complain freely to her friends, because some see it as "nice".
« Last Edit: July 29, 2013, 09:15:46 AM by AppleBlossom »

delabela

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2013, 10:17:35 AM »
I get the idea of not wanting people to know your birthday so that you don't feel forced to have a party, or something like that. But the OP specifically states that the MIL has said it's because she doesn't want anyone to spend money on her. Does she recognize other people's birthdays with cards and/or presents? If so, then I think it's a little martyr-ish of her to refuse to allow her loved ones the same joy.

artk2002

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2013, 11:18:28 AM »
I get the idea of not wanting people to know your birthday so that you don't feel forced to have a party, or something like that. But the OP specifically states that the MIL has said it's because she doesn't want anyone to spend money on her. Does she recognize other people's birthdays with cards and/or presents? If so, then I think it's a little martyr-ish of her to refuse to allow her loved ones the same joy.

Not martyrish at all. She would only be a martyr if she complained about the inequality. Her desire to have her birthday celebrated (or not) in the way she wants it overrides anyone else's right to the "same joy." My birthday is mine and not yours and its celebration is about me and not you. You aren't entitled to get joy from my birthday.

Edited because I *do* know the difference between it's and its.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2013, 11:35:19 AM by artk2002 »
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

shhh its me

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #22 on: July 29, 2013, 01:27:03 PM »
I get the idea of not wanting people to know your birthday so that you don't feel forced to have a party, or something like that. But the OP specifically states that the MIL has said it's because she doesn't want anyone to spend money on her. Does she recognize other people's birthdays with cards and/or presents? If so, then I think it's a little martyr-ish of her to refuse to allow her loved ones the same joy.

I don't think it would be rude to point this out to MIL (assuming she gives gifts) MIL you always do nice things for our BDays it makes us feel bad we can't do anything for your yours.  or is she acted" woe is me" about it  in the moment say " MIL we would celebrate your birthday but you refuse to tell us when it is"

I think op can ask every year "this year can we do something for you?"  while I do think it would be a tiny bit rude to make MIL repeat herself annually I don't think its egregious.  I think asking more then once can be called being "nice but annoying" just doing it tramples borders.

She didn't just say "ohh don't do anything for my birthday" she kept the date from her SON , who presumably lived  with her for a number of years. That means he never saw a card, cake , gift or bday message to his mom for what 15-25 years?  that takes some serious commitment to not telling people your bday.

snowdragon

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #23 on: July 29, 2013, 01:34:51 PM »
I get the idea of not wanting people to know your birthday so that you don't feel forced to have a party, or something like that. But the OP specifically states that the MIL has said it's because she doesn't want anyone to spend money on her. Does she recognize other people's birthdays with cards and/or presents? If so, then I think it's a little martyr-ish of her to refuse to allow her loved ones the same joy.

Not martyrish at all. She would only be a martyr if she complained about the inequality. Her desire to have her birthday celebrated (or not) in the way she wants it overrides anyone else's right to the "same joy." My birthday is mine and not yours and its celebration is about me and not you. You aren't entitled to get joy from my birthday.

Edited because I *do* know the difference between it's and its.

This, especially the bolded. You ( general you through out) get to celebrate your birthday with all the parties you want - because that's what you, presumably like. You don't get to co-opt my birthday so that you can have it the way you want it, too.  if you do, you deserve the reaction you get. My birthday is about me, not about you. And forcing a party is making it all about you.
  Which does make the victim of a forced party a martyr...to the wishes of the party throwers.

Specky

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2013, 01:54:17 PM »
Another way to look at this is:  by using brain bleach to wipe your discovery from your memories, you are giving her the PERFECT gift every year.  You are giving her EXACTLY what she has asked for:  privacy.

delabela

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #25 on: July 29, 2013, 09:55:29 PM »
I get the idea of not wanting people to know your birthday so that you don't feel forced to have a party, or something like that. But the OP specifically states that the MIL has said it's because she doesn't want anyone to spend money on her. Does she recognize other people's birthdays with cards and/or presents? If so, then I think it's a little martyr-ish of her to refuse to allow her loved ones the same joy.

Not martyrish at all. She would only be a martyr if she complained about the inequality. Her desire to have her birthday celebrated (or not) in the way she wants it overrides anyone else's right to the "same joy." My birthday is mine and not yours and its celebration is about me and not you. You aren't entitled to get joy from my birthday.

Edited because I *do* know the difference between it's and its.

I certainly respect your opinion. Were I a close member of your family or a close friend, I would find it off-putting if you celebrated my birthday but refused to allow me to acknowledge yours. Different personalities and expectations is all. 

delabela

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #26 on: July 29, 2013, 09:59:39 PM »
I get the idea of not wanting people to know your birthday so that you don't feel forced to have a party, or something like that. But the OP specifically states that the MIL has said it's because she doesn't want anyone to spend money on her. Does she recognize other people's birthdays with cards and/or presents? If so, then I think it's a little martyr-ish of her to refuse to allow her loved ones the same joy.

Not martyrish at all. She would only be a martyr if she complained about the inequality. Her desire to have her birthday celebrated (or not) in the way she wants it overrides anyone else's right to the "same joy." My birthday is mine and not yours and its celebration is about me and not you. You aren't entitled to get joy from my birthday.


Edited because I *do* know the difference between it's and its.

This, especially the bolded. You ( general you through out) get to celebrate your birthday with all the parties you want - because that's what you, presumably like. You don't get to co-opt my birthday so that you can have it the way you want it, too.  if you do, you deserve the reaction you get. My birthday is about me, not about you. And forcing a party is making it all about you.
  Which does make the victim of a forced party a martyr...to the wishes of the party throwers.



Please note I never indicated anyone should be forced into a party - my personal opinion is that if you acknowledge my birthday, it's a natural part of the relationship for you to allow me to acknowledge yours. There is a vast difference between a surprise party for someone who doesn't want it and being allowed by your loved one to offer a sincere "happy birthday, I'm glad you're in my life." I understand some people feel differently, and if someone doesn't 'do' birthdays, I respect that. If they only don't 'do' their birthday but acknowledge others, I would be very uncomfortable with that.

snowdragon

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #27 on: July 29, 2013, 10:31:35 PM »
I get the idea of not wanting people to know your birthday so that you don't feel forced to have a party, or something like that. But the OP specifically states that the MIL has said it's because she doesn't want anyone to spend money on her. Does she recognize other people's birthdays with cards and/or presents? If so, then I think it's a little martyr-ish of her to refuse to allow her loved ones the same joy.

Not martyrish at all. She would only be a martyr if she complained about the inequality. Her desire to have her birthday celebrated (or not) in the way she wants it overrides anyone else's right to the "same joy." My birthday is mine and not yours and its celebration is about me and not you. You aren't entitled to get joy from my birthday.


Edited because I *do* know the difference between it's and its.

This, especially the bolded. You ( general you through out) get to celebrate your birthday with all the parties you want - because that's what you, presumably like. You don't get to co-opt my birthday so that you can have it the way you want it, too.  if you do, you deserve the reaction you get. My birthday is about me, not about you. And forcing a party is making it all about you.
  Which does make the victim of a forced party a martyr...to the wishes of the party throwers.



Please note I never indicated anyone should be forced into a party - my personal opinion is that if you acknowledge my birthday, it's a natural part of the relationship for you to allow me to acknowledge yours. There is a vast difference between a surprise party for someone who doesn't want it and being allowed by your loved one to offer a sincere "happy birthday, I'm glad you're in my life." I understand some people feel differently, and if someone doesn't 'do' birthdays, I respect that. If they only don't 'do' their birthday but acknowledge others, I would be very uncomfortable with that.

  That is on no one but you. They are respecting your wishes to 'do" your birthday the way you want....why is it so hard to respect their wish to 'do' their birthday in the manner they want...even if that is quietly letting it pass?
 

esposita

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #28 on: July 29, 2013, 10:54:31 PM »
Just chiming in to say (and sorry if I missed someone else saying this already) that this is a trust issue. I personally see nothing wrong with popping in to give her a simple card and gift, and leaving quickly without a fuss. (But you know her best, you know if this is simply because she dislikes being fussed over or if she actually doesn't like any acknowledgement of her birthday for reasons other posters have stated.)
My reason for advising something extremely quiet and low key is because this involves you finding out a secret while doing personal paperwork for her. If you break her trust by making a big deal put of something that you found out while caring for her, that could quickly become an issue. But in my opinion, a simple, respectful acknowledgement of how much she means to you on a special day...just an understated and meaningful card and gift, so unobtrusive that she wouldn't be able to tell it was for her birthday but for the card saying so, I think that would be a lovely sort of homage.
But only if you truly truly suspect its because of the money and fuss, not because it would hurt her that you knew.

delabela

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Re: A birthday dilemma
« Reply #29 on: July 29, 2013, 11:03:32 PM »
I get the idea of not wanting people to know your birthday so that you don't feel forced to have a party, or something like that. But the OP specifically states that the MIL has said it's because she doesn't want anyone to spend money on her. Does she recognize other people's birthdays with cards and/or presents? If so, then I think it's a little martyr-ish of her to refuse to allow her loved ones the same joy.

Not martyrish at all. She would only be a martyr if she complained about the inequality. Her desire to have her birthday celebrated (or not) in the way she wants it overrides anyone else's right to the "same joy." My birthday is mine and not yours and its celebration is about me and not you. You aren't entitled to get joy from my birthday.


Edited because I *do* know the difference between it's and its.

This, especially the bolded. You ( general you through out) get to celebrate your birthday with all the parties you want - because that's what you, presumably like. You don't get to co-opt my birthday so that you can have it the way you want it, too.  if you do, you deserve the reaction you get. My birthday is about me, not about you. And forcing a party is making it all about you.
  Which does make the victim of a forced party a martyr...to the wishes of the party throwers.



Please note I never indicated anyone should be forced into a party - my personal opinion is that if you acknowledge my birthday, it's a natural part of the relationship for you to allow me to acknowledge yours. There is a vast difference between a surprise party for someone who doesn't want it and being allowed by your loved one to offer a sincere "happy birthday, I'm glad you're in my life." I understand some people feel differently, and if someone doesn't 'do' birthdays, I respect that. If they only don't 'do' their birthday but acknowledge others, I would be very uncomfortable with that.

  That is on no one but you. They are respecting your wishes to 'do" your birthday the way you want....why is it so hard to respect their wish to 'do' their birthday in the manner they want...even if that is quietly letting it pass?

I would respect it (and have been in a situation where I persuaded people not to celebrate against someone's wishes) - but it would be uncomfortable for me to not wish a happy birthday to someone who went to the effort to do something for me. It's like going out with people who insist they always be the one to treat and never let anyone else pay - it seems nice and giving on the surface, but after a while it feels wrong to never be allowed to be the generous one. If you (general) don't do birthdays, fine, don't do them. I will not be offended if someone doesn't acknowledge my birthday - let's go get a beer some other time. But I would strongly someone not celebrate my birthday if they are so secretive about their own that I can't even know the date.

snowdragon, I did find your reply a bit aggressive - I certainly apologize if my post appeared that way to you, and I will work on my tone.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2013, 11:07:23 PM by delabela »