Author Topic: Giving lots of Christmas presents to family, and only receiving one in return?  (Read 9862 times)

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LifeOnPluto

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I love my cousins, I really do. While they're considerably older than I, we're very close, and they're more like sisters to me than cousins. But there is one particular issue I have with them that I've just given up on: gift-giving.

Now, let me say here that I am no mercenary. I truly believe that it is the thought, not the gift, that matters. I love giving gifts, and I do so because I like making the recipients happy, and it gives me a charge to do so. But there is a certain point at which it becomes ridiculous.

First, a little background.

My cousins, Jane and Sue, are twins. For years, Jane and Sue would give one combined Christmas gift to each family member (me, their mother & father, our grandmother, my mother & father, etc.), and they would get two in return (one for each of them) from each of us. Well, that's fine--it's all about the season, right? Right. Loving and sharing, etc. Great.

Then Jane got married to Bob. So we would each get one gift from Jane, Sue, and Bob . . . and they would get three. That's okay! Remember, it's about family and love and togetherness. Not about the presents.

Then Jane and Bob had a little boy, Teddie. So we would each get one gift from Jane, Sue, Bob, and Teddie . . . and they would get four. It's fine. Really.

Then Sue got married to Rick. And then we would each get one gift from Jane, Sue, Bob, Teddie, and Rick. And they would get five.

Okay, now it's reached the ridiculous point.

But again--I kept remind myself that it's all about loving and sharing and giving and taking care of your fellow humans . . . not the presents. I bought them things because I love them and want to do so, not because I feel like I should or because I expect something in return.

Even though I always managed to get the worst presents possible from them.

They don't seem to have this problem with their parents or my parents or our grandmother or their brother and his wife and son . . . but when it comes to me, they give me the strangest, most random things. Like the year they gave me a gallon jug of Bullfrog sunblock. Or the time they gave me a small decorative basket of fragrant soaps in the shape of roses. That was nice . . . but one could imagine it more in an older person's home. I was 12 and living with my parents. What on Earth would a 12-year-old do with a basket of decorative soaps?

But I never, ever said anything. I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth or seem greedy or ungrateful. I always cheerfully accepted what they gave me and said "thank you." I never even complained to my parents.

And, again, I loved giving them gifts--I would go out of my way to buy them each something I knew they'd like, agonizing over little details and shopping endlessly for the perfect thing. Even when I was younger and didn't have very much money, I tried to put thought and care into what I got them. Jane likes Snoopy--I got her a Snoopy Christmas ornament. Sue likes Fleetwood Mac--I got her a greatest hits album. Bob is an avid tennis player--I got him a case of tennis balls. Teddie got something appropriate for his age, toys of some sort. Rick is into Harleys--I got him a Harley belt buckle.

So this went on for years, until I was about 26.

That's when I'd reached the boiling point.

I had a good job and was making a decent amount of money. I wanted to make sure I got them something personal, something nice. They are all avid outdoors people, so I bought them all fleece pullovers. I bought Teddie about $50 in toys. I probably spent a grand total of about $350 on the five of them.

Jane had asked me what I wanted for Christmas a few months earlier, and I said I wanted a metal "alumni" license-plate frame from my undergrad school, which would be very easy, since they lived close to the school.

And that's exactly what I got.

From the five of them.

It cost $4. How do I know this?

They left the tag on the back.

HolidayHell1027-05



MY COMMENTS: I'm really torn on this one. On one level the author clearly got short-changed when it came to gift-giving. But on the other hand, it was clearly her choice to spend heaps of money on presents for her cousins and their families. Since she was a child, they had given her cheap, generic gifts, so she knew what to expect. It sounds like she thought that by buying them heaps of expensive presents, they would be encouraged to reciprocate by buying HER lots of presents too.

If, after years of getting one gift from 5 people, why didn't she just buy a combined present for her cousins and their families?

And as for the present she received - what is she complaining about? That was exactly what she asked for!

rashea

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I don't believe that gift giving should be a comparison thing, but I think this one was an extreme. Sorry, once you are an adult you stop doing combined gifts with your sister and her husband. I have no problem with couples giving a joint gift, but getting a $4 gift from 5 people and getting 5 presents back is pressing it.

I do agree with the PP that it was long past time when she should have been spoiling them. After a while you have to adjust your boundaries.

I don't agree that she shouldn't be upset about getting only the license thing. If I mention a CD to my Mom (when she asks) I don't expect that to be the only thing.
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morgana

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I agree with rashea on this one. Even though gift giving is about giving and not about receiving and of course there shouldn't be a comparison between gifts or between gift value, nor should there be any expectations, after so many instances of such an exchange going on, I would say the siblings are being rude or simply thoughtless. Really, a $4 gift from 5 people is a bit insulting, especially when they know and expect to receive 1 gift each in return.

I would say that the OP needs to change her attitude about gift giving to these people and start buying them things like 1 book per family or 1 jam basket for all of them ... but not continue spending insane amount of money on them when they don't reciprocate.

Don't get me wrong, I love giving gifts more than I like receiving them, I love to put time and effort and my gifts are always thoughtful. But after doing this over and over and not receiving even a thoughtful gift in return, I might get a bit bitter too.

NOVA Lady

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If I were the poster of this the next year, since they are all outdoorsy types, maybe I would get them a combined gift of one book on hiking, or trail riding, or whatever.

caranfin

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To me, it's not about the money, it's about the thoughtlessness. First, giving combined gifts from twins when you each expect your own gift is bad enough. But to keep giving a combined gift from two different households? That's ridiculous. And of course the gifts themselves were completely unsuitable - it would be different if they were combining so they could get a nicer gift.
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Felica

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I agree that it's about the thoughtlessness, not the money, or even the amount of gifts. I have had people I know were really stuggling give me something that didn't cost much but they put an effort into finding something I would like. (I got one pair of toe socks from a family of five once, when I had given seperate gifts to each of them. But you know what? I LOVE toe socks! So I was happy that they took the time to notice I liked them and find me a pair rather than get me some little tchachky that I wouldn't care about. So to me, it was a good gift)

I hate it when people buy something with no thought at all behind it. I got chocolate covered cherries once. From someone who definately knows I don't eat chocolate. Where's the thought in that? It was just someone who wanted to say that they'd got me something. I guess it makes them feel like they've done their duty? I'd rather someone not get me anything if they aren't going to at least try? Even if it's just a two dollar pair of toe socks, buy for me, not just so you can check off a name on your Christmas list!

jais

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My only issue is that she admits it went on for 14 years with her continuing to go all out for them.  I hate to say it, but she put herself in the situation and only she can take herself out of it.

Hawkwatcher

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In the author's defense, she was probably very young when this tradition of giving her poor gifts started since she remembers receiving soap for a gift at the age of 12.  Her parents  may have encouraged her to be gracious about receiving any gifts whether or not she liked the gifts.  Many people have also been taught complaining about a gift is rude. 

However, it does sound like she has stopped giving them gifts.

Please pass the Calgon

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I feel for this girl. Honestly, I'd put together a "Movie Night" basket and call it good.

XL plastic bowl, a bunch of microwave popcorn, candy, a 2 liter of soda, a few classic movies or a GC to a rental place, maybe a fleece throw. I've done these with dollar store ingredients or with stuff purchased at our regular grocery, they came out looking the same.

KenveeB

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I don't mind the twins going in on gifts together when they were kids.  My brother and I did that all the time.  The fault lies in (1) their poor choices of gifts (obviously cheap and impersonal ones), and (2) their continuing to do it as adults, or at least not doubling the amount they spend. (Brother and I still do that sometimes, both use our gift budgets to get one nicer gift for our parents.)  Doing it as completely separate households...

That said, the OP should have long ago stopped giving separate gifts due to this behavior.  Give a basket of food for them to share or something to use jointly, and only spend a single person's budget on it.  If they've elected to be considered one person for gift-giving, that's fine, but it goes both ways.

Urbanfairy

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I love buying gifts for people and I really try to think about the recipient, but our friends always, always buy us a box of biscuits or chocolates. I know that its about giving, but I feel slighted that I really think about them and get them something I think they will appreciate, and in return, we get a box of biscuits from the local supermarket. I feel the sentiment behind it is 'Oh that will do for Uf and her BF' as it gets chucked in the trolley with the rest of the weeks shopping.
So now.. I do the same. I don't want to stop buying for them, because they are my friends, but I won't spend hours and hours searching for the perfect gift for them anymore.
Maybe thats what the OP should have done.

jimithing

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I don't understand why she didn't start buying them family gifts.  That's what my family does once people start getting married and having children.  I would have stopped buying them each gifts a long time ago.

pierrotlunaire0

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I'm sorry, but there is also a point where you have to start acting like an adult.  It's one thing when you are 12 years old, and make an effort, only to be gifted with something slapdash.  And at 12, it can make you resentful.

What I had a problem with was this going on for YEARS, and her resentment seems to have gotten worse over the years.  And they were cousins, not siblings.  At about age 17 or 18, in my family, cousins start to wind down the gift giving into more like candy or homemade cookies.  And at age 26, to spend that much money in the hope that she would get something nice, well, she was setting herself up for disappointment.  There was also nothing to suggest that she was particularly close to these cousins.

She should have let it go a long time ago.  Life is definitely too short to be resentful over what your cousins gave you for Christmas in comparison to what you spent on them.  If people aren't showing you the same consideration that you are showing them, you need to rethink your gift giving list.
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LifeOnPluto

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I'm sorry, but there is also a point where you have to start acting like an adult.  It's one thing when you are 12 years old, and make an effort, only to be gifted with something slapdash.  And at 12, it can make you resentful.

What I had a problem with was this going on for YEARS, and her resentment seems to have gotten worse over the years.  And they were cousins, not siblings.  At about age 17 or 18, in my family, cousins start to wind down the gift giving into more like candy or homemade cookies.  And at age 26, to spend that much money in the hope that she would get something nice, well, she was setting herself up for disappointment.  There was also nothing to suggest that she was particularly close to these cousins.

She should have let it go a long time ago.  Life is definitely too short to be resentful over what your cousins gave you for Christmas in comparison to what you spent on them.  If people aren't showing you the same consideration that you are showing them, you need to rethink your gift giving list.

Yes, exactly! She was 26, and this had been going on for years. She should have long ago stopped giving them all expensive, individual gifts.

alecmari

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I'm almost totally on her side - I think its really bizarre to be giving joint gifts from two seperate households.  Although I would have solved it by giving a joint gift to their two seperate households - AMC gift cards or something like that.  And I never would spend $350 on anyone - let alone cousins - but everyone knows I'm cheap!   ;)

I do have one point of disagreement.  BF and I give one gift jointly to people.  His mom got one joint gift from us for Christmas as did his dad as did each of my parents.  If you give us each a seperate gift that is very sweet of you but that does not make me feel obligated to buy you two gifts from our household gifts budget and slap a tag on with different names to make you happy - especially when most likely I will have chosen both gifts anyway.