• April 19, 2018, 12:06:50 PM

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it? Update #6, Final #21  (Read 17050 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


  • Member
  • Posts: 2967
(Sorry for the length)


Not feeling the holly jolly here.

I have 2 sisters and one brother, and various nieces and nephews.
About 10 years or so ago, Older Sis 1 and I suggested to the other sibs that we stop exchanging presents, and focus on the younger generation(s).  (We all have plenty of stuff and can all afford to buy ourselves whatever we need, if not every last thing we want).

Well, Older Sis 1 and I have pretty much stuck to this. Older Sis 2, not so much, but I'm not sure she ever agreed to it in the first place, and she gives little symbolic gifts and doesn't expect anything in return, so, fine.

But Little Bro ("Little" is relative here, he's in his 50s) and, now, his wife, won't get with the program.
Why this is a problem is basically because, even though we all inherited the same amount from my Dad, little Bro rant though his money really really fast and has not lived one year since without "borrowing" (never a dime paid back) from Mom. So I think it was fair for us to say "no presents, please." He did continue his tradition of making and giving cookies, ok, that's nice.

But his wife, who I love to pieces, is a "gifts are love" shopper type person.

So now my Mom, my DH and I are looking with a jaundiced eye at three giant shopping bags of presents they thrust on us last night after our family get-together dinner out (and their company was all we wanted). It's awful to say, but I am looking at opening these things as a chore, not a pleasure.

Mom had to give them thousands of thousands of dollars this year, just so they could meet their living expenses. And I gave SIL some more thousands when her very sick mother had a crises that the insurance didn't cover. And neither of us regret those gifts. But we wish they wouldn't spend on buying us gifts! 

Not to mention the useless clutter factor.

I did ask my brother directly, right after Thanksgiving, not to buy us presents, but I was too late, I guess. "We already shopped," he said (don't know if that was true or he just doesn't want to say no to SIL's love of shopping).

My Mom also asked him not to buy us stuff.

We've asked, they've ignored us. Is there anything else we can do and not violate good manners?

« Last Edit: January 01, 2016, 12:25:04 PM by Calypso »


  • Member
  • Posts: 141
Re: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it?
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2015, 01:47:28 PM »
If I were in your shoes, I would make a pact with the rest the family not to give them any more money. It looks like they have plenty of money to survive they just choose not to use it in a way that is consistent with paying their living expenses.

 Also looks like that you and your mother both need to sit down with your brother and help him and his wife with their finances. Since you are loaning or giving them money it is your business . 


  • Member
  • Posts: 5806
Re: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it?
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2015, 02:43:40 PM »
Any chance some of that stuff is returnable for cash?  You could give the money to your mother to replace the "borrowed" money.


  • Member
  • Posts: 19674
Re: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it?
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2015, 04:41:06 PM »
Normally I would suggest you say thank you and move on.  But essentially,  these aren't gifts from your brother and sil;they are gifts from your mom and you, since that's who's been paying some /much /most of their bills.

So *in this situation only*I would not accept the gifts (other than homemade goodies), and I would tell them why: "brother,  we appreciate the gesture but we e told you that we don't do the gift thing anymore and we especially do not want to accept these from you.  Please return them and use that money to [pay your bills/pay back what you borrowed /put toward your savings]. "

            Created by - Free Weight Loss Tools


  • Member
  • Posts: 406
Re: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it?
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2015, 05:53:36 PM »
If possible, I would return them for cash or store credit and think of that as my "pay back" for the cash gifts I gave throughout the past year.  And I would tell brother now and again before October of next year that you will not be able to accept any gifts in the future.  If they ask for more money in the future - whether you are able/willing to give it or not - use that as another time to say you won't be accepting gifts, too.


  • Member
  • Posts: 5011
Re: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it?
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2015, 09:26:13 PM »
I would not provide them with any more money.  They are never going to learn to properly handle their finances if they always have you and/or your mom bailing them out.  I have an aunt who's almost 70 years old and has never been financially responsible (my grandmother was always bailing her out, at Aunt's request).  Grandma's been gone four years now, but Aunt and Uncle ave been taking the money collected from Grandma's rental properties and keeping it (the rest of the family, Mom and her other siblings, are trying to change this but all the properties are in their home country, which is where Aunt and Uncle live).  Once Mom and the rest are successful in getting control from Aunt, I have no idea what's going to happen to Aunt and Uncle financially (and no one cares as they are not good individuals).


  • Member
  • Posts: 2967
Re: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it? Update 6
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2015, 12:25:36 AM »

So we had a nice, quiet Christmas and a busy 26th and 27th. 
I guess we were expected to have called and gushed over the gifts because on the 27th my bro called my Mom and asked, did I like my present? Mom took the opportunity to explain that all the gifts were beautiful, but we would prefer for reasons of not having room, etc, not to get presents, and she wanted Bro and SIL to take them back. Bro got upset, defensive, "we were only trying to be nice!", Mom reassured him he was very nice, but, still.

Later in the day I talked to my oldest sis on the phone and we commiserated over the situation (they also sent her a gift she wished they had not).
It's standard for sis and I to talk about almost everything, but this time it was a grave mistake. She called bro this morning (the 28th) and, in his words, "bawled him out." There couldn't be a worse dynamic here; oldest sis is incapable of acting like anything but the Big Sister with bro, and she always gets his back up.

The excrement hit the propeller. Bro called Mom and complained. She said, "don't scold me for what your sister said; as for me, I said what I meant, but I didn't mean to upset SIL."

An hour later I get a text from bro:  "Sis, I'm sorry we got gifts. Big Sis called to Female Dog me out. SIL didn't really get to buy gifts for her Mom this year (note: her Mom, since last Christmas, has descended deep into dementia and has many serious health problems) and she just wanted to be part of our family. It's not like we spent hundreds of dollars. We were just trying to be nice. You and Big Sis and Mom  could have at least been thankful and said "you shouldn't have." SIL has been crying over this and is very hurt. We will not get anybody anything next year! We were just being nice! Sorry. Love you."

 I texted back "I'm sorry SIL is upset. We didn't mean to hurt her. Why does she feel the need to get us gifts to be "family?" She is family. Does she think I don't love her because I didn't get her a gift?"

While this was going on (I am a very slow texter), he was talking to Mom again. I guess he got my text, and this follow up one I sent:

"Some people don't need things to feel or show love. That's what Mom and I are like and if you really love us for who we are you wouldn't be mad about that."

He texted back "No. Not at all." Which I took to mean he was no longer mad, and (I thought) the situation was smoothed over.


Hours later, this text from bro: "SIL wasn't TRYING to buy her way into family, we just wanted to show our appreciation and love. We never thought about buying  into family."

I don't know where that came from, as neither Mom nor I said anything of the kind (if big Sis did, I think I'll kill her  :P )  I texted back:
"I gather you're still upset. What do you need to feel better? No one said anything about buying into family. SIL is family."
and got back:

"I'm ok, it's SIL. She didn't even want to do Xmas because of her Mom. She just thought she was being nice and feels bad because she has never had a gift not liked because there isn't enough space."

(the next part I'm quoting verbatim because I don't quite understand it)"

A. Simple. Ty & then the explanation."

(I think it means "you should have said thank you, and then explained there wasn't enough space)

He went on to complain about how much trouble SIL took over big Sis's present (engraved item) and how upset she was that Sis responded by bawling bro out.

Whew. Christmas cookies to anyone who got through that mess.

I didn't answer the last text. It was getting late, I felt (and my Mom agreed) that they were looking to continue being upset and we didn't want to play at that point. I think I'll try to get over there and talk in person to SIL, but there's just no way I can do it until Wednesday.

Any advice is welcome. I'm trying to apply eHell principles, but I don't think we're handling this very well  ???


  • Member
  • Posts: 5078
  • So many books, so little time
Re: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it? Update #6
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2015, 04:03:30 AM »
Unfortunately I think all of you behaved really badly here :( Let me see if I'm understanding this right.

You opened the presents for Christmas and didn't call / text / email / whatever to thank them for them? Rude.
When your brother called your mother, she said you didn't want them because you don't have room? Rude.
Sis called and scolded him? Rude.

I don't blame your SIL for being upset, and I do think everybody owes them an apology.
Dane by birth, Kiwi by choice


  • Member
  • Posts: 7795
Re: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it? Update #6
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2015, 05:09:01 AM »
You are upset about the money factor, which I understand but don't think you can do anything about.

Can you just make it clear that if you must receive gifts that they be consumables or gifts to charity, and you will not be buying gifts for them? Of course, you need to repeatedly remind them how much you value them and your time together. I guess SIL needs that, like your having their back financially isn't enough!

I think there was little rudeness here. Three days is not long to get back with a thank you even with electronics. It was very awkward and added to the hurt for Mom to get involved. She probably should have just said to talk to you and only have dealt with her own issues with them. Maybe I'm just one of those people who doesn't keep score or find offense at every little thing, and I see the rules for family as different from the general social world. This is not little for SIL. That's sad.

What are you going to do with the bags of gifts? Have SIL take them back? Take care of them yourself? Donate? I would probably keep one gift. That's all we usually give to most people anyway.

You probably need hugs, too. So I'm sending it along with the assurance that some of us understand your feelings on this.


  • Member
  • Posts: 863
Re: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it? Update #6
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2015, 06:06:40 AM »
Years ago a relative of mine stole money from his son and bought lots of gifts for the entire family.  He went up and down the street into little shops, getting really nice little extravagances from each store.  We were all really surprised and the gifts were exciting - until we found out how and what he had done.  It is hard to continue to enjoy something that was stolen from a dear relative.  How do you even begin to make that right?  Horrid, and to do such a thing on a blessed day is wretched.

While your brother hasn't stolen the money, to ask for money to live on and then be able to purchase gifts for people that have said no more exchanges is close to it. 

I think that you all need to meet as a family on what will happen the next time brother needs a "loan".  Brother needs to realize that he has basically taken money from mom to buy these presents.  A plain statement to him "Brother, mom lent you money but instead of you paying her back you went and bought gifts.  If you have money to buy gifts, you don't need loaned money to pay your bills.  Don't ask mom for more money." 

And if they do this again, the "thank you" note/call should be "I can't accept gifts from you when the money used to buy them should have gone to repay mom.  Why haven't you paid mom back, but have gone out to buy gifts?"  This is the issue to press here.


  • Member
  • Posts: 6469
Re: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it? Update #6
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2015, 08:47:53 AM »
Oh my, what a mess. Hurt feelings all around. Hugs to you for having to deal with this.
I agree it's not too long for a thank you. For all brother knew, your lovely handwritten thank you was already in the mail.
Big sis overstepped her boundaries, and mom and sis speaking about your feelings did not help.
Hopefully a few days will help everyone calm down. I think your sentiment was good and just repeat the positive, brother and sister in law are family and you just appreciate their company.
Finances are separate issue. When they ask for loans in the future, that is when you make clear if it is a loan or a gift, if it's a loan you get terms of repayment in writing. That is the advice I would give your mother also, if she was asking. A discussion of family finances with your mother is a separate issue that should be addressed away from the holidays. Your mother should take a hard look at her finances, what is giving money to brother doing to her future financial plans?
Holidays often are very stressful for families, because it's one of the few times in a year that everyone might be together and critical problems and conflicts come out in the open.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2015, 08:51:53 AM by JoyinVirginia »


  • Member
  • Posts: 406
Re: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it? Update #6
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2015, 09:22:02 AM »
I noticed a theme in your summary of your brother saying SIL was trying to "be nice" - not sure what it means, but it stood out to me.

In any case, I think this may be a case of them going on the defensive, but they have some justification.  You are all beating around the primary issue (except perhaps for your older sister, though I didn't quite catch exactly what she said when she complained to him.) It isn't that people don't have "the space" for the gifts; it's that it feels wrong to accept gifts when you know they can't afford basic living expenses and that you / your mom will essentially be the ones making up for the deficit.  So yes, you/your mom bought those gifts - they are being generous/nice on someone else's dime, essentially.  That is what needs to be conveyed to him and SIL - you simply won't be able to accept gifts at this point.  You know their financial situation, since they brought you into it by asking for a loan, so I don't think it is rude to simply be honest. 


  • Member
  • Posts: 5584
Re: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it? Update #6
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2015, 11:54:54 AM »
Is the real reason you don't want gifts from your brother because you don't want more stuff? Or is it because you feel he should be using that money to pay Mom back?

If it's because you don't want more stuff, then you just do what you would do if anyone, family or not, gave you a gift. You accept it graciously, thank them, and then do whatever you want with it. Keep it, regift it, give it to charity, throw it away, whatever, without a hint to the giver that you didn't want it.

If it's because you feel he should be using that money to pay Mom back, then I think that's something that's totally between Brother & Mom. If Mom wants her money back, she needs to meet with Brother at some neutral point (not when you're in the midst of holiday conflict) and tell him that she wants to be repaid and that when he spends money on nonessential stuff, it disappoints her because she feels the money should instead be going toward paying off her loan to him.

She should also probably stop making further loans, and none of the rest of you should lend him any additional money.

But that is totally up to each individual involved. Unless Mom asks you to represent her to Brother and ask for repayment, and even then I'd be hesitant, it's really not up to you or your sisters to say anything to Brother. If he asks you or your sisters for money, then you have the right to refuse or not, just being fully aware that the chances are, based on his past behavior, you're not going to get the money back.

In either case, I agree that once the gifts were given, the only really polite thing to do is accept graciously and move on. Discussing the loan situation should be an entirely separate conversation.

Oh Joy

  • Member
  • Posts: 2068
Re: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it? Update #6
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2015, 12:18:06 PM »
OP, I get your frustration - your family has financially supported your brother and his wife, and they've spent money you'd rather they didn't on gifts for you.  And I too work very delicately to keep my house from being flooded with unwanted junk at the holidays, while still exchanging gifts with loved ones.

Since you asked, I suggest separating the two concepts from each other:
1)  Your family has financially supported them, but unless there were terms to the agreement, you don't get a vote in what food they eat, what charities they support, or what gifts they give.  You can only decide whether you provide future support, and don't get a vote on others' support of them.
2)  Holiday gifts are very important acts of love for some people, so please start by acknowledging your SIL's feelings.  Your posts read to me like they got only scorn and scolding.  Both sides feel like their wishes are being ignored, but you can be the wise one to "speak their language" to initiate a conversation next year that accommodates everyone's perspectives on the may even come up with a routine or tradition that everyone truly loves.

Best wishes.


  • Member
  • Posts: 12441
  • xi
Re: It would be rude to say "NO more presents," wouldn't it? Update #6
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2015, 12:23:24 PM »
Well, the good news is that hopefully you guys won't get any presents next year.