1. Are you disappointed because they don't put the SAME time/money/thought into your gift that you put into theirs, or just that they don't bother to put any time/money/thought into it at all?
I'm disappointed that they don't put any thought into it at all. I don't care about the money, but the saying, "It's the thought that counts" holds here.
2. Would you be equally disappointed in their gift, regardless of what you sent them?
Cookies and candy for my diabetic DH, her own son? Yes, I would be.
3. How much of a good feeling to you draw from giving them something truly meaningful and thoughtful?
I enjoy giving something meaningful and thoughtful. As I said in my original note, I enjoy that part of it all.
4. Would you feel better or worse about your gift to them if you skipped all their effort and sent them something easy and thoughtless?
I would still send the gifts we do. I'd rather they didn't send us anything than send something so inappropriate.
5. Are they truly thoughtless, or just clueless abuot what kind of gift you would treasure so they default to something easy?
Seventeen years of being a member of this family tells me it's thoughtless. This is the same woman who sends my DD (a tomboy) dolls and frilly clothing, even knowing DD despises such things. At least DD always thanks her grandmother properly, we ensure that. And then my other niece, on my side of the family, receives the gift.
6. Is it possible they don't completely understand DH's dietary restrictions?
It's been discussed many times, they definitely understand.
I'd tell them how much you appreciate the gift, but since it's a medical issue, I'd clue them in on the fact that DH can't enjoy much of what they send. And maybe for future Christmases, put some effort into letting them know exactly what kind of gifts would really hit the mark
We already do, but I also don't want to "hint" at gifts. I was thinking more along the lines of, "Mom, we know you're so busy, really - don't worry about Christmas gifts any more."