Author Topic: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?  (Read 7462 times)

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EMuir

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S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« on: November 29, 2013, 10:32:52 AM »
We had a tradition among the adults in our families, since there are no young children around (and because it's fun) that we would have stockings.  Each person has a $5 limit per stocking, and each person buys little presents "from Santa" for everyone else.  Then we can open stockings Christmas morning.  It's a lot of fun.

This Christmas my SO's sister(SIL) got married.  She has decided to spend Christmas with her new family.  She lives the same distance away that she has for the past 10 years. 

SIL has still talked about exchanging stockings, and in fact has asked her mom to make a stocking for her new husband this year. 

In my opinion stockings are for the people who are together Christmas morning.  If she wants to do stockings with adults in her new family, or if her family wants to come spend Christmas with us, then great.  But I think that stockings should only be among those who are together on Christmas morning.  (Of course if SIL was still single but had to be away from the gathering for reasons beyond her control we would have saved her a stocking out of kindness, but this is not the case.)

What do you think?

Outdoor Girl

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Re: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2013, 10:35:26 AM »
I agree with you; stockings are only for the people physically at the celebration.  Sometimes, we've done a second celebration and had stockings for the people who were not there the first time but we've never done a stocking for someone not at the celebration.
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kherbert05

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Re: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2013, 10:39:42 AM »
Is this the only present she would get from her parent? To that would be a big line.
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Mergatroyd

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Re: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2013, 10:46:02 AM »
Are they coming over later in the day? What does "new family" mean, are we talking her new DH has kids and it's his year? Or she's spending christmas with his siblings and his parents?

If it's kids, AND they will be coming over later or on boxing day, I might make up stockings and save them for them, if it was my house.
I don't really see why everybody should HAVE to get in on it though, I think it would be reasonable to only have to put in for stockings of the people who are there.

If you don't want to put stuff in her stocking, and her DH's, then don't. "She's not here." Is a valid reason. I personally would probably spend the five bucks on a gift instead and stick it under the tree. Stockings are for the ones who are there, gifts can be saved.

Let's face it, stockings (especially ones with novelty items) are more fun to open when you are surrounded by the people who filled them, and more fun to fill when you get to see their faces as they open them.

m2kbug

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Re: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2013, 10:54:49 AM »
To me, this falls in the gift giving rotation.  We started "drawing names", as buying gifts for all the family members and spouses and addition of kids was starting to get insanely expensive.  Regardless of whether or not you were in attendance, you were still in the rotation.  If you were spending Cmas with your in-laws, you would drop off the gift or give it at another time.  With that thought, I would say to include SIL and her spouse in the stocking exchange, even though they won't be there on that particular day.  SIL and Hubby will provide their stocking contribution as well, despite not being there to see the recipient accept the gift. 

So in a nutshell, my answer is include them anyway.

If your family all feel that recipients (and givers) must be present, then I would defer to majority opinion.

TootsNYC

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Re: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2013, 11:06:00 AM »
I disagree. In very many situations, as you describe it, stockings are for family members.

To deny SIL and her new husband a stocking is to say, "you don't count if you don't show up." I can't think of anything less appropriate to the sentiment of the holiday.

You didn't say whose home the gathering is in, and under which family auspices this has been arranged. But they are being created by the participants, and not by the hostess. Therefore the *group* gets to decide how they will be handled. At least one member of the group has already declared that she sees them as a "family togetherness" thing and expects all family to be included every year, period, no matter where they end up celebrating.

Your approach to  the stockings treats them as sort of a party favor. That's really unappealing to me at Christmas and among family. Especially when they are being *created* by all the participants, and not by the hostess.
   To me, this is even *more* than a one-time, "We had extra food, and you helped prepare it, so here's a meal for you."  Gifts are ways we express our love for one another. To treat them like a party favor is really hurtful.


Were I SIL's mom, that's not a message I'd want to sent to my new son-in-law--I'd want him to feel that he's valued, etc., so that maybe he'll have warm feelings toward us and want to include us in their lives. 
   Were I SIL's sibling (your partner?), I wouldn't want to send that message to my sister: "If you're not here, I'm not doing anything fun for you, and I don't care about your new husband either." Way to make sure they *never* show up for Christmas again. They sure don't have to, I'm sure his family would love to have them for all the holidays!

Of course they'll miss out on the fun of opening stockings right that day. And the rest of us will miss out on seeing them react to what we've given them. But that's a small price to pay for treating them like members of the family, even if they are absent. For sending the message (which is what gifts are intended to do) "I love you."

And I'll confess that if one of my daughters-in-law expressed the sentiments in the OP, I'd look at her differently for a long time!

And I found this sort of offensive:
Quote
This Christmas my SO's sister(SIL) got married.  She has decided to spend Christmas with her new family.  She lives the same distance away that she has for the past 10 years. 
...
if SIL was still single but had to be away from the gathering for reasons beyond her control

So because she has gotten married, now somehow she's getting "dinged" because she is considering her husband's wishes and spending time with his family? It sounds as though you think this is some unimportant whim--as if you think she said, "Oh, I don't want to come to your house this year, I have somewhere better to go." As if she is rejecting you ("...her new family...") because she now has competing demands on her time at family celebrations.

I would classify "have to spend Christmas at her spouse's family's place" **as** a reason beyond her control. What is her other choice? To be disrespectful to her new husband by refusing to consider it?

Daydream

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Re: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2013, 11:13:24 AM »
It may be that I'm not correctly understanding the difference between stockings and other gifts (to me they're just a form of packaging, like wrapping paper or a gift bag), but I would include SIL and her hubby and just give them to them when I see them like any other family member I don't see on Christmas day.

For instance, if you and your SO decided to spend the day with your family of origin, I would still think you should get stockings.  So the same would go for your SIL and her husband. 

(I understand that there may be other details you haven't mentioned that may make you want to exclude SIL. I'm just going by what was written.)

Jelaza

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Re: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2013, 11:16:02 AM »
Is she going to contribute gifts to the other people's stockings?  If so, she should be completely included in the exchange.

If not, why should she be allowed to "get" without giving?  This may sound mean, but in that case, she's stepping into "gimme gimme" territory, rather than really participating in the stocking tradition.

daisy1679

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Re: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2013, 11:19:58 AM »
I disagree. In very many situations, as you describe it, stockings are for family members.

To deny SIL and her new husband a stocking is to say, "you don't count if you don't show up." I can't think of anything less appropriate to the sentiment of the holiday.

You didn't say whose home the gathering is in, and under which family auspices this has been arranged. But they are being created by the participants, and not by the hostess. Therefore the *group* gets to decide how they will be handled. At least one member of the group has already declared that she sees them as a "family togetherness" thing and expects all family to be included every year, period, no matter where they end up celebrating.

Your approach to  the stockings treats them as sort of a party favor. That's really unappealing to me at Christmas and among family. Especially when they are being *created* by all the participants, and not by the hostess.
   To me, this is even *more* than a one-time, "We had extra food, and you helped prepare it, so here's a meal for you."  Gifts are ways we express our love for one another. To treat them like a party favor is really hurtful.


Were I SIL's mom, that's not a message I'd want to sent to my new son-in-law--I'd want him to feel that he's valued, etc., so that maybe he'll have warm feelings toward us and want to include us in their lives. 
   Were I SIL's sibling (your partner?), I wouldn't want to send that message to my sister: "If you're not here, I'm not doing anything fun for you, and I don't care about your new husband either." Way to make sure they *never* show up for Christmas again. They sure don't have to, I'm sure his family would love to have them for all the holidays!

Of course they'll miss out on the fun of opening stockings right that day. And the rest of us will miss out on seeing them react to what we've given them. But that's a small price to pay for treating them like members of the family, even if they are absent. For sending the message (which is what gifts are intended to do) "I love you."

And I'll confess that if one of my daughters-in-law expressed the sentiments in the OP, I'd look at her differently for a long time!

And I found this sort of offensive:
Quote
This Christmas my SO's sister(SIL) got married.  She has decided to spend Christmas with her new family.  She lives the same distance away that she has for the past 10 years. 
...
if SIL was still single but had to be away from the gathering for reasons beyond her control

So because she has gotten married, now somehow she's getting "dinged" because she is considering her husband's wishes and spending time with his family? It sounds as though you think this is some unimportant whim--as if you think she said, "Oh, I don't want to come to your house this year, I have somewhere better to go." As if she is rejecting you ("...her new family...") because she now has competing demands on her time at family celebrations.

I would classify "have to spend Christmas at her spouse's family's place" **as** a reason beyond her control. What is her other choice? To be disrespectful to her new husband by refusing to consider it?

I have to completely agree with this. I'm completely appalled at the idea that a family member doesn't count on Christmas if they're not physically present. And right now I'm so thankful my family does not share this attitude, as there were a couple years I wasn't able to make it home, but was still given the choice about being included in the gift exchange (we did a name draw, and yes, we chose to participate).

cwm

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Re: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2013, 11:26:38 AM »
In my family, stockings are for people who are there. Sis was married for two Christmases. First Christmas was with our family. She and her DH each got a stocking filled with the stanard fruit in the toe and random small gifts. Second Christmas she spend Christmas Eve with us and Christmas Day with his family, and she didn't get a stocking. She wasn't there, no stocking for her. Half the fun of it for us is comparing which things were most useful, and which things got dropped into the wrong stocking. Dad could never remember which belonged to who, so he'd just split it up and drop it in.

If OP's sister is going to be at her family's house at any point during the day, can they do the stockings at that point, and include her DH in it? Doing it in the evening, for example, could still let her participate if she can show up. I think if she's not going to be there at all, it's just tough luck that she doesn't get one. It's an event that happens on an exact day, and if she can't make it on that day, then she can't participate, sorry. I'm not saying no gift exchange for her, but this is a specific tradition that happens at a specific place on a specific day under specific conditions. OP's sis had to have known ahead of time that if she's spending all day on Christmas with her DH's family that she was going to miss out on some traditions.

JenJay

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Re: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2013, 11:34:19 AM »
That sounds like fun!

So she's asking that everyone still buy her (and now her new DH) a little gift for their stocking, so that they can have stockings to open the next time they are at her parents' home? Are they going to purchase the little gifts for everyone else as well? How will they get the trinkets to everybody else? Or are they asking that you all fill their stockings but understand that you won't receive anything from them since they'll be at his parents' house?

If this is the only gift given and/or she plans to give you little gifts at a later time then I'd definitely go ahead. I wouldn't keep it up every year if they don't reciprocate, however, only because I can envision 5 years from now "Okay, there will be six stockings opened at the party but three more to be opened later, so that's nine little gizmos. Oh wait, Joe has a new girlfriend and even though he won't be at the stocking party she'll probably be with him when he comes over to open it so we'd better get her one, that's ten. Is Mary coming this year?" I know I'm borrowing trouble but it sounds like a potential headache if those who aren't present don't reciprocate.

camlan

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Re: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2013, 11:35:16 AM »
I'm pretty much siding with Toots on this one.

Yes, the stockings are a tradition. But the family has changed, as families do. And in the future, SIL and her DH may have children, which will change things even more.

SIL didn't randomly decide not to spend Christmas with her family of origin. She's married--my guess would be that she and her DH are planning to rotate through the holidays with both families.

Does that mean that she gets cut out of the family tradition the years she spends one specific day with her husband's family? That could be extremely hurtful.

Traditions are important. But because they are so important, I  think it is wise to be flexible with them; to allow them to grow and change as the family grows and changes.

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EMuir

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Re: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2013, 11:39:12 AM »
OP here.

Presents are different than stockings. We will be exchanging presents. 

The distances involved mean that dropping in isn't possible, but SIL and family are planning to visit between Xmas and New Year's.  Just not on Christmas.


Jelaza

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Re: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2013, 11:47:54 AM »
Ah.  I thought the "from Santa" gifts went into the stockings.

In that case, yeah, give SIL and her family the stockings to open in front of Mom and anyone else there during the week b/t Christmas and New Year visit.  If they take the stockings home and don't open them in front of Mom, then future years they only get them if they are there during the Official Stocking Opening Event.

TootsNYC

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Re: S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2013, 11:53:27 AM »
Well, if the family celebration happens at Mom's, I think Mom gets to decide whether there's a stocking for them, both this year and any other year.

One thing I'd be gunning for (thinking as the mom of the kid that just got married and is traveling to her husband's family--which makes this even *more* "beyond her control") is that we *have* the stockings for them.  And that we have a ton of fun opening them.
   And that we mention that fun to them. So they get the welcoming message ("You're part of the family, we thought of you, we wanted you to be part of the fun") but they get the wistfulness of "well, you sorta had to be here to get the joke." So that *next* year they'd want to be in on the joke, and they'd come to us for Christmas.

Also, my assumption was that Sis and New Husband absolutely would be fully participating in the stockings in every way--except for being there when they're opened.