Author Topic: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins  (Read 7824 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

TootsNYC

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 30507
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2013, 12:23:20 PM »

Abby's response was that it's not greedy to tell them that if they cannot afford to give each child a gift, it would be better to give nothing at all.  But I could see this not actually working, since clearly the gift givers see the twins as one person.

Thoughts?

How would one phrase such a request?

I agree with you, that's not really going to work, because it doesn't address the problem.

I think what one does is address the problem: as Knitterly words it, "clearly [they] see the twins as one person."

So you say, a little later, "Uncle Joe and Aunt Frieda, I noticed that you gave both boys a single T-shirt. I need to let you know, that hurt their feelings a lot. They are two separate boys, and when you give them a gift that only one of them can use at a time, they feel really devalued. This is often a problem for twins, and I need to ask your help, that you treat them not as 'the twins' but as Steve and Sam. Especially with gifts, it gets really, really clear that they are invisible to people--but even with conversation, let's all get in the habit of never saying 'and the twins,' but instead saying 'Steve and Sam.' "

I also think that the parents and the close family member who *do* get it should conspire to consciously and carefully never lump the twins together. They should work to banish "the twins" from their vocabulary as a phrase; whenever other people say, "and the twins can sit here," they should say, "You mean Sam and Steve? Sure, we can put Sam and Steve here." (and maybe also encourage them to not do everything together--seat them at different ends of the table now and then; send Steve to the grocery store with Aunt Frieda and ask Sam to do something else)

It's time for those people in the family who *do* get it to start modeling the proper way to deal with Sam and Steve. As "Sam" and as "Steve," and not ever as "the twins."

It's not about the cheapness of money; it's about the mindset--and it would always be seen as polite if Mom and the relative who *do* get it start to say, "You are hurting the boys' feelings when you don't see them as two individual, real, separate people."

Also, someone who is not the boys' mom (like a close aunt) can say things that are pretty strong, "Really, Uncle Joe? You gave two boys a single T-shirt? What are you thinking? That's really hurtful!"

turtleIScream

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 547
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2013, 01:29:01 PM »

Abby's response was that it's not greedy to tell them that if they cannot afford to give each child a gift, it would be better to give nothing at all.  But I could see this not actually working, since clearly the gift givers see the twins as one person.

Thoughts?

How would one phrase such a request?

I agree with you, that's not really going to work, because it doesn't address the problem.

I think what one does is address the problem: as Knitterly words it, "clearly [they] see the twins as one person."

So you say, a little later, "Uncle Joe and Aunt Frieda, I noticed that you gave both boys a single T-shirt. I need to let you know, that hurt their feelings a lot. They are two separate boys, and when you give them a gift that only one of them can use at a time, they feel really devalued. This is often a problem for twins, and I need to ask your help, that you treat them not as 'the twins' but as Steve and Sam. Especially with gifts, it gets really, really clear that they are invisible to people--but even with conversation, let's all get in the habit of never saying 'and the twins,' but instead saying 'Steve and Sam.' "

I also think that the parents and the close family member who *do* get it should conspire to consciously and carefully never lump the twins together. They should work to banish "the twins" from their vocabulary as a phrase; whenever other people say, "and the twins can sit here," they should say, "You mean Sam and Steve? Sure, we can put Sam and Steve here." (and maybe also encourage them to not do everything together--seat them at different ends of the table now and then; send Steve to the grocery store with Aunt Frieda and ask Sam to do something else)

It's time for those people in the family who *do* get it to start modeling the proper way to deal with Sam and Steve. As "Sam" and as "Steve," and not ever as "the twins."

It's not about the cheapness of money; it's about the mindset--and it would always be seen as polite if Mom and the relative who *do* get it start to say, "You are hurting the boys' feelings when you don't see them as two individual, real, separate people."

Also, someone who is not the boys' mom (like a close aunt) can say things that are pretty strong, "Really, Uncle Joe? You gave two boys a single T-shirt? What are you thinking? That's really hurtful!"

This, exactly.

I am a twin, and my parents were very intentional in helping my sister and I create our own identities.  As it turns out, we are very similar and share many interests, but this approach to gift giving still would not have been okay. This is not really an etiquette question. It is not about the monetary value, or the matching of the gift to interests; many people have to learn to graciously accept gifts that miss the mark. This is about giving a gift that devalues the recipient, and parents are allowed to stand up for their children and say that is not acceptable.

Like Toots said, this attitude needs to be confronted in all interactions with the children, not just at gift giving times. I recently attended a funeral, where I saw my pastor from when I was very small. Our family moved away from that church when I was 6, but I still remember Pastor Howell because he always called my sister and me by our names. To him, we were not the twins, but Turtle and Otter. That effort is noticed and appreciated, and makes a lasting impression.

Funny story - Our grandmothers would buy us matching outfits for Christmas. We had similar taste in clothes, so usually, the clothes themselves were appropriate for either of us, but we never dressed alike. When we were about 8 or 9 years old, the local paper did a story on twins, and we were interviewed. We were asked about dressing alike, and we answered honestly in the way only 9 year olds can. Our only matching clothes came from grandma, and we only wore them for pictures for grandma. Apparently, mom sent a copy of this article to family members, because we never got matching clothes again.

Less funny story, not my proudest moment - I was at the store buying birthday cards. You know how card displays have descriptions of the cards (mother - religious; suitable for step-mom; friend - humor; etc)? I saw one labelled "birthday - twins". Yes a single card intended for two people, and the design and inscription were clearly intended for ages 6-10. I hid all the cards behind the placard, and wrote on it "don't even think about it; they already have to share their birthday and identity; you're going to cheap out and make them share a card too?"

TootsNYC

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 30507
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2013, 01:31:49 PM »

Less funny story, not my proudest moment - I was at the store buying birthday cards. You know how card displays have descriptions of the cards (mother - religious; suitable for step-mom; friend - humor; etc)? I saw one labelled "birthday - twins". Yes a single card intended for two people, and the design and inscription were clearly intended for ages 6-10. I hid all the cards behind the placard, and wrote on it "don't even think about it; they already have to share their birthday and identity; you're going to cheap out and make them share a card too?"

I think that's great! OK, not truly kosher, etc., etc., but I totally understand!!

siamesecat2965

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8662
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2013, 02:08:52 PM »
I saw this too and it made me scratch my head. I have a friend with twins, who are now 21!!!  But when I got her a baby gift (she lived in TX, and me in NJ) I forget exactly waht it was, clothes, I think, but I think I got TWO separate and distinct outfits. not matching, but something similar. THe only way I would have gotten one gift for both was if, along with that, I got say a set of books or something of that nature.

gmatoy

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1293
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2013, 02:44:33 PM »
To answer the question of "Who does that?!!," I will say, my MIL and DIL who gave their sons, who are NOT twins, shared gifts every Christmas. They are 15 months apart in age and every year they got one train piece to share. So one year a locomotive, the next year a coal car, etc. To add injury to insult, she won't let them have their train set even today. And my BIL collects them now, I think to salve the pain of having to share as a child.

At least these boys (in the Dear Abby column) have a mother who sees them as separate!

Roe

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6428
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2013, 03:41:11 PM »
They are TWO people so therefore, there should be TWO gifts. Even if you give a gameboard, you should give each one a gameboard if you then turn around and give their two siblings separate gifts. 

If this happened to my child, I would hand the gift back to the giver.  This is not acceptable gift-giving.

Twik

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 28388
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2013, 03:43:18 PM »
To answer the question of "Who does that?!!," I will say, my MIL and DIL who gave their sons, who are NOT twins, shared gifts every Christmas. They are 15 months apart in age and every year they got one train piece to share. So one year a locomotive, the next year a coal car, etc. To add injury to insult, she won't let them have their train set even today. And my BIL collects them now, I think to salve the pain of having to share as a child.

It sounds like your MIL and DIL are a little unclear as to the concept of "gift". It does not cover buying something, telling the recipient it's for them, but keeping it yourself.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

StoutGirl

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 92
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2013, 04:45:55 PM »
I feel bad for the set of twins that had to share the shirt.  I think that it is okay for the mother to speak up.

My Dad is a twin and I'm sure that he and his brother got gifts that had to be shared, but I don't think that it was ever clothes.  I'm sure the same thing happened with my maternal grandmother and her twin sister, toys/games, but not clothes, though it would not surprise me if the sister labeled the items as hers (stories for another time).

If I should have kids or if my sister does and they are twins (twins seem to run in the family) I think that it would be okay to get some gifts, such as a game, to share, but also give individual gifts. 

Also, it was mentioned on here to not name a set of twins Tim and Tom.  At one of our local high schools, there is a set of teachers that are twins named Tim and Tom, and I think that they might teach the same subject. 

DoubleTrouble

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1335
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2013, 07:29:06 PM »
As a twin & the parent of twins, I'm horrified. The only way this is acceptable is if the gift could be easily shared (like Legos). Honestly, I love Abby's response but if that happened to us I'm afraid I wouldn't be as nice.

Less funny story, not my proudest moment - I was at the store buying birthday cards. You know how card displays have descriptions of the cards (mother - religious; suitable for step-mom; friend - humor; etc)? I saw one labelled "birthday - twins". Yes a single card intended for two people, and the design and inscription were clearly intended for ages 6-10. I hid all the cards behind the placard, and wrote on it "don't even think about it; they already have to share their birthday and identity; you're going to cheap out and make them share a card too?"

I think that's great! OK, not truly kosher, etc., etc., but I totally understand!!

Love that & thank you! I think the only time I've gotten one card for the boys (or myself & my brother) was with baby gifts when no one really cared but we always got two gifts or one gift that could be shared. But these days my boys would be upset not to get a card each.

*inviteseller

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1821
  • I am Queen Mommy
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2013, 08:00:42 PM »
My friend is a twin and she tells stories of the one gift or one card to be shared and how it upset them.  They are 2 peas in a pod and as close as twins can be, but they also have different tastes and hobbies so they found this to be cheap.  She works at a card store and when they got a shipment of cards one day, there was the single card for twins (the one for them to share).  She refused to put it out and sent it back to the company with a note saying those cards were demeaning and hurtful.

On a side note, my DD;s birthdays are 4 days apart and we have had a few people buy them a 'shared' gift.  The problem?  They are 11 years apart!!!  The baby turning one, as brilliant as she is  ::), was not going to be playing the game Trouble and my 11 year old, who loves to read, was a bit advanced for a copy of Goodnight Moon (which she already had).  Thanks cheapo relatives!  And yes, they got nice thank you notes for those gifts while older DD and I kind of chuckled.

HoneyBee42

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 610
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2013, 08:53:02 PM »
I am a mother of four which includes two singletons (who arrived first and second) and one set of twins.  Perhaps because my twins are a girl/boy set, people haven't really had issues with seeing them as just "the twins".  The one and only time that a gift was given to both of them was at their birthday party in which they received a slip-n-slide (and this one is another thing that is not a problem, along the same lines as other items mentioned that can be used by both--and the value of that is more than I think anyone [neighborhood friends, not family] would have spent on a single child).  That said, if I ever had had a family member give just one item to both of them that is something that would just as likely have been given to one of my older two children, I would return the "gift" and say that just because they happened to be siblings born on the same day in the same year, they *are* separate individuals and deserve to be treated as such.

Now, when I initially was pregnant, long before knowing that I had twins, I had names picked out for a girl and a boy.  They were not names like Robert/Roberta or other sets of practically the same name, just the masculine & feminine version, but distinct names.  Even when I found out that there were twins and that one of them is a girl but we weren't able to find out before birth about the second baby, the second girl's name would sound like a reasonable choice for a sibling, but not overly 'matchy'.  I did have people (strangers in stores type) who would, upon learning the names say "What kind of twin names are those?  You should have named her [his name]a." (So, if I had named him Robert, they thought that I should have named her Roberta instead of Elizabeth.)  I told even those people, though I probably never would cross paths again, that they are not a matched set of china, they are two separate people and besides, I really don't like the name Roberta.  (True enough--the name that I actually did give my daughter is one that I had planned 'if I ever have a daughter' from the time I was 17 and saw the name in a movie's credits--and at that point, I was 35 and *not* going to give up that name just to slap a name that seems like "you're not what I really wanted, but you're an ok consolation prize".   I have known twins with matching names (ironically enough, one set of names I have known sets of twins that were both male and another that are both female--Stacy and Tracy), but I couldn't ever do that to my own children.

As it happens, my daughter (only one in all four children) looks more like my middle son than her twin brother.  While they still look very obviously like siblings, especially now, few people who don't know would guess them to be twins (she is not quite 5'3" and he is 5'10"--they're 12 now).

I do think one gift for "the twins" (especially the single t-shirt!) is different from other sorts of gifts that one doesn't really care for and is more akin to giving a book on the latest fad diet to an overweight person.

Yvaine

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8795
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #26 on: December 05, 2013, 08:55:29 PM »
To answer the question of "Who does that?!!," I will say, my MIL and DIL who gave their sons, who are NOT twins, shared gifts every Christmas. They are 15 months apart in age and every year they got one train piece to share. So one year a locomotive, the next year a coal car, etc. To add injury to insult, she won't let them have their train set even today. And my BIL collects them now, I think to salve the pain of having to share as a child.

It sounds like your MIL and DIL are a little unclear as to the concept of "gift". It does not cover buying something, telling the recipient it's for them, but keeping it yourself.

Yeah, it seems the parents-in-law gave themselves a train set.   >:(

TootsNYC

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 30507
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #27 on: December 05, 2013, 08:57:51 PM »
I'm not even sure I think it's OK to give a pair of twins a shared Lego set!

It's just really rude somehow.

I'd be OK w/ a Lego set for all four kids.
But if you're going to give Singleton1 and Singleton2 their own presents, you'd better be giving Twin1 and Twin2 separate gifts.

And if you obviously halved the expenses of gifts for the twins, I'd be mad too!

LifeOnPluto

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6525
    • Blog
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #28 on: December 05, 2013, 09:13:48 PM »
I like Glitter's idea of emphasising their differences. I think the parents should pre-emptively call or email those relatives who they suspect will give the twins one gift to share, and say something like "If you need ideas for GIFTS (my emphasis) for Tim and Tom, I recommend that Tim loves reading, so any book would be fine. And Tom loves sport, so a football would be excellent for him. And if you were thinking of t-shirts, Tim's favourite colour is blue, whereas Tom loves red." etc.

sammycat

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6057
Re: Dear Abby, Christmas with twins
« Reply #29 on: December 05, 2013, 09:28:04 PM »
I'm not even sure I think it's OK to give a pair of twins a shared Lego set!

It's just really rude somehow.

I'd be OK w/ a Lego set for all four kids.
But if you're going to give Singleton1 and Singleton2 their own presents, you'd better be giving Twin1 and Twin2 separate gifts.

And if you obviously halved the expenses of gifts for the twins, I'd be mad too!

I totally agree.

If someone has four singleton kids born at various points throughout the year, gift givers would have to buy 4 separate presents anyway.  If the gift giver spends $20 per child, that's $80.

I still think it's completely unacceptable to spend $20 per non-twin child and $40 on a joint twin present, even though it's still $80. Each child deserves to be treated as an individual and have the $20 spent on them.