General Etiquette > Family and Children

S/O: If you aren't coming to Christmas, do you get a stocking?

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TootsNYC:
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
--- End quote ---

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:
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:
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:

--- Quote from: TootsNYC 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
--- End quote ---

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?

--- End quote ---

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:
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.

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