My younger, by 5 years, brother has three children, two girls, one boy, while I’m in a civil partnership with my SO of 10 years. Brother works as an engineer, and his wife as a wedding dress designer/maker. I’m a senior manager working in the Capital and my partner works part time in a shop.
My brother’s family and my parent’s and his wife’s parents live about 5 hours away by transport (no I don’t drive) and I visit maybe twice a year depending on work and schedules. Normally I pay a visit to my parents over the mid or late December during which my brother brings the kids down for a few hours to talk and say hello. During this period I’ve traditionally given each of them their Christmas present.
As my brother’s children have grown up they have gotten a bit more “grabby” each year when it comes to Christmas presents. About 5 years ago I was emailed a list of “Eldest Daughter (ED) would like ….”, ”Youngest Daughter (YD) would like ..”, and “Youngest Child (the son) YC) would like …”. This wasn’t a “please choose one item from the list” this was a request for over £300 of items per child. Now OK I have a reasonably good job, but I live in the capital and costs are commensurately higher. To be asked to shell out £900 for presents was pushing things. Additionally some of the items were large (YS wanted a drum kit !) and trying to travel with those would be nearly impossible for me. Asharah's comment: If the parents were the ones sending the e-mail, I would put more blame on them at this point.
So I decided to call my parents first and ask them what was going on. My mother had received a paper copy of a similar list, asking for over £100 of items per child, (our parents have retired and while they own their own home they have a restricted income), and thus had told my brother that they would spend up to £25 per grandchild and no more. Apparently ED (age eight) had been heard in the background calling her grandparents some unpleasant names during the call, which just added to the problems. I then called my brother and discussed the issue, told him that I would spend at most £100 per child and that I’d rather provide a gift token to a chain-store of his choice then they could buy what they wanted, possibly in the post-Christmas sales and get a lot more for their money. Grudging acceptance from brother. Asharah's comment: Even if brother is the kids parent, I don't see why LW needs his permission to buy the kids what he sees fit to for Xmas!
So .. I go to buy the gift tokens and see at the same time some really nice “plush toys”, one a floppy eared dog, one a panda, and the other an elephant. Now I know that YS loves elephants and that YD loves dogs, so I buy each one (over £20 each) and a big “sparkly” gift box plus the vouchers. I put the vouchers in the box and wrap everything up. A few days later I’m at my parents and my brother turns up with the three kids. We have a nice chat for a while, the kids tell me what they’ve been learning at school and so forth, at which point I decide to put them out of their misery and give them the boxes. Obviously this isn’t what my brother was expecting, they thought they were going to get an envelope with a gift token each, so this sparks some curiosity. I give permission for them to open the gift now.
YS .. oh wow a neffylump .. (what he calls them) really happy and runs off to tell his grandparents.
YD .. oh that’s so cute .. runs off to show grandparents her dog.
ED .. holding panda by one ear… looks at me and throws it across the room, turns to her father .. “You said he was bringing me money,” and stomps off. Asharah's comment: Why exactly would Dad tell daughter what uncle was bringing her for Xmas?
I pickup the nice boxes and extract the gift tokens and call the kids back into the room. YS and YD run back, followed by everyone else. ED lurks near the door. I point out to YS and YD that they have left their £100 gift tokens in the boxes and hand them to them. £100 is quite a bit of spending money. They are even happier. I then give ED the, “Well as you don’t want your Panda .. you can’t want the gift-token either”.
Cue a screaming session from ED as she realises that she’s done herself out of a £100 gift token. Asharah's comment: What did Dad have to say?
I had the token split into two £50 vouchers and send them down to YD and YS by post. 1001-08Asharah's comment: Reminds me of the story of the kid who was a brat about what his relatives brought him from Disneyland and never got another present from them. And his mom was a total witch with a capital B!http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=2527.0