Author Topic: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday  (Read 5675 times)

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mj

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S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« on: September 04, 2010, 12:37:31 PM »
Ok, DH and I have the same complaints regarding the too many gifts dilemma.  We realize its in bad taste to dictate the types of gifts so we've gone the route of keeping for a period of time and then giving away.  Currently our guest bedroom is stacked with the gifts and we need to clear out for the upcoming holidays. 

Anyway, our biggest issue concerning the gift dilemma is the TIME. Over the years the gift opening has monopolized the holidays and gets worse every year.  Last year the gift opening session was over 8 hours long and continued on another day.  We hardly spend any time with the kids, they are allowed to tear through their gifts and run off.  The grown ups are required to sit and take turns, which would be nice but for 8 hours????  On the actual holiday?  Not so cool with us and now the kids are starting to show signs of 'gimme me, gimme me' tendencies.  Last year DD tore through gifts and some of them got a passing glance, no thank you, no nothing.  Dh's family thinks its funny, my family is appalled. 

Fwiw, DH and I have been reworking all of our holidays this year since it's not really working for us.  We are stressed every year from end of September to February.  And we don't expect his family to take it very well.  We have lots of issues with the holidays but thought we need to change only a couple of our hot button issues and the gift opening is one of them, combined with the changing the days of when we will be available to celebrate the holidays. 

So your thoughts?  Is there a way we can ask someone to keep the amount of gifts down to a lower number?

gramma dishes

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2010, 12:49:25 PM »
It's a shame that this is the established practice in that family.  It's so much easier to start from day one than to go backwards and try to change what everyone is accustomed to.  I presume you can't plead poverty, so you can't do the "We simply can't afford to buy so many presents and therefore would feel terribly uncomfortable receiving so many" thing.

Maybe you could just sit down with them and say kind of what you've said here.  "We think the gift part is overwhelming the entire meaning of Christmas and we'd like to tone it down this year.  Would it be possible for each adult (at least) to receive only one gift?  Maybe a draw-a-name and get just that one person a gift?

I do think as parents you should express your concerns that your kids are not really appreciating the gifts they receive adequately and you'd like to get that toned down too.  Maybe a total of three gifts per child?  -- or whatever you think you could live with.  The problem there, of course, would be that apparently other parents would continue to allow THEIR kids to receive dozens of presents which would make your children feel 'cheated'.

It's a real problem and I will be interested to see the suggestions other people have for ways you can deal with this.

camlan

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2010, 01:15:07 PM »
Eight hours to open gifts? I grew up in a family of nine, and even when we got old enough to take turns opening gifts (instead of tearing them open all at once), it never took longer than two hours, max. Is it the number of gifts or does each and every gift have to get passed around and exclaimed over? Does everyone have to bring all their gifts to one person's house and everyone opens them there, instead of opening immediate family gifts at home and then gathering together and opening the gifts extended relatives are exchanging?

I'd have an extremely hard time sitting there for 8 hours, most of that time spent watching other people open gifts. Especially if the kids were running amok elsewhere in the house.

Does DH's family have a "head of the family?" Someone who everyone else listens to? Can you or your DH talk easily with this person? Because what I'd do is try to get that person or persons on my side. I'd start by telling them that you and DH are trying very hard to de-commercialize the holidays for yourselves and your daughter. That you want her to experience Christmas in other ways than just getting presents. And then ask if they have any idea on how to help you achieve that on Christmas Day, where the entire focus is on opening gifts.

Or tell them that while you enjoy getting gifts, the past few years, Christmas Day has been all about the gift opening, and you and DH would like to have a chance to play with the kids and chat with everyone, instead of focusing so much on the gift opening. Could something be done to move the gift opening along a little faster, so that there is more free time for family togetherness and building snowmen and playing board games? Or could your little family unit join the rest of the family later in the day, so that you can do some special things with your daughter at home, and not affect the rest of the family's gift opening?

And you can definitely ask everyone to limit the gifts to your daughter. I think it's harder to limit gifts to yourself, for some reason. But you can definitely tell people to give only one gift per family unit to your daughter. You can also tell people that if she gets too many gifts on Christmas Day, you will be allowing her to open X number of gifts (X being a reasonable number) right then, and then giving her the rest of the gifts later. There will undoubtedly be flak about this, so you will have to stand firm.

My niece was overwhelmed by presents when she was little. My brother and SIL had to travel to have Christmas with the family, so they asked everyone before Christmas what we were giving Niece. They chose 4 or 5 gifts for her to open on Christmas morning, and saved the rest to be opened on the trip home. Yes, it was a little sad not getting to see her open my gift. But my brother had very good reasons for doing the gifts this way, and it kept Niece quiet and occupied on the plane, so we really couldn't complain.
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mj

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2010, 01:34:16 PM »
Money cannot under any circumstances be brought up ever.  If you voice concerns with affording xmas, you will be given the money to do so.  And you will be given MORE gifts to make up for your supposed money issues, even though this level of gift exchange imo would be a concern for the average family anyway.  Money is tight for DH and I right now, but will be over with this month so we will be fine with the amount we are expected to buy.   So yeah, learned early on that money will not ever be talked about under any circumstances if I have anything to do with it.

The head of the family is the one who orchestrates this and will be the one with the most problems concerning any changes. Also the biggest supporters of this type of Xmas are the ones being subsidized and are the allies with the head of the family -- although we are not supposed to mention this lol. 

We have already made one smallish change in that we spend Xmas morning at our house with the kids in our home, that caused a massive meltdown.  This is why we go with changing our hot button issues rather than everything we have a problem with.  And right now it's TIME and the day of celebrations.  Even though we have it clear now that we will spend Xmas morning in our own home, they will expect the rest of Xmas day devoted to the 8 hour gift exchange. 

Individual family gifts are opened at the individual family homes and the 8 hour gift opening is with DH's parents/siblings/grandchildren gift exchange.  And if tradition continues, the gifts will be even bigger this year.

hollasa

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2010, 01:56:16 PM »
Are any of the other siblings or siblings-in-law also frustrated with the 8 hour giftapalooza? Thinking of being able to present a united front on changes that are going to be happening.

Giggity

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2010, 02:08:07 PM »
Posting to bookmark because with my family, we might as well hold Christmas in the middle of FAO Schwartz. It's over the top and ridiculous, and that we can all afford it is no justification.
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mj

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2010, 02:09:59 PM »
Are any of the other siblings or siblings-in-law also frustrated with the 8 hour giftapalooza? Thinking of being able to present a united front on changes that are going to be happening.

Yes, there are. But past actions have shown that we actually can't rely on them to join a united front with this unfortunately.  

Camlan, you just made me think of something though.  Even if we are able to get it set that our kids get a set amount of gifts, that doesn't mean they will get a lower amount of gifts for their cousins.  And I have no intentions of trying to change the cousins.  However, our kids will notice that the cousins get more and that's not quite fair either.  And I don't want the holidays to be constantly marred with negative feelings for any members and this is the last thing I want for our kids.

And similar to DH and I, even if we do get a smaller amount of gifts that doesn't change the fact that the gift exchange won't be just as long that we both would have to sit through.  We can't change what they do for others and I have no intentions of trying to dictate that.

It's starting to look like the best and least offensive route is to opt out of all this which is an entirely different can of worms and we still have the issues of explaining this.  

gramma dishes

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2010, 02:17:38 PM »
Money cannot under any circumstances be brought up ever.  If you voice concerns with affording xmas, you will be given the money to do so.  And you will be given MORE gifts to make up for your supposed money issues, even though this level of gift exchange imo would be a concern for the average family anyway.  Money is tight for DH and I right now, but will be over with this month so we will be fine with the amount we are expected to buy.   So yeah, learned early on that money will not ever be talked about under any circumstances if I have anything to do with it.


*smacking self soundly on head*

Of course.  You're absolutely right.  I should have thought of that!!

AdakAK

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2010, 03:03:47 PM »
Can you plead religious meaning?  If not, maybe plead for more family time together and less opening time. 

mj

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2010, 03:21:19 PM »
Can you plead religious meaning?  If not, maybe plead for more family time together and less opening time. 

No, DH and I are the only non religious ones.  Which has been implied to me as to why our views are considered (generally) the least important. 

And to be honest, they get the majority of the family time.  If anything, we need more individual family time.


DangerMouth

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2010, 03:44:12 PM »
It may be time for the "we're starting our own traditions. so we're having Christmas at home this year with just the kids" speech.

kudeebee

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2010, 04:46:47 PM »
How many people--without kids--and how many gifts are you talking about?  I can't imagine the number of gifts there must be to take that long.  Or do they have to be passed around, if someone goes to the restroom do you wait, do you break for meals???

hollasa

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2010, 04:55:42 PM »
Are any of the other siblings or siblings-in-law also frustrated with the 8 hour giftapalooza? Thinking of being able to present a united front on changes that are going to be happening.

Yes, there are. But past actions have shown that we actually can't rely on them to join a united front with this unfortunately.  

What do you think they could do? Perhaps write a joint letter, or participate in a joint family discussion? Back you up on one small portion? Participate in a planning discussion "and then if Grandma says *this*, we can say *that* - Abby, you say it that time, and Betty, you say it the next time"? Or cave, and then throw you to the wolves?

AdakAK

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2010, 04:57:28 PM »
No, DH and I are the only non religious ones.  Which has been implied to me as to why our views are considered (generally) the least important. 
And to be honest, they get the majority of the family time.  If anything, we need more individual family time.

I would be tempted to plead more quality family time, both individual family and extended.  You would like to spend Christmas visiting with them, and it seems like now that the later generations are getting married and having children that present opening is making that hard to do.  

Eight hours of present opening is hard for me to imagine.

mj

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Re: S/O Family Gifts....Taking over the holiday
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2010, 05:07:19 PM »
How many people--without kids--and how many gifts are you talking about?  I can't imagine the number of gifts there must be to take that long.  Or do they have to be passed around, if someone goes to the restroom do you wait, do you break for meals???

Without kids there are 14 people.

Off the top of my head, I'd say there was 30 gifts to me.  I remember 27 right now.  DH says it was more like 40 per person when it was all said and done.  Sometimes there are 2 or more sweaters wrapped together and that sort of thing so the actual presents being opened could be around 30 and that's where DH is getting the 40 from.

Yes, there are breaks.  Normally we eat first, spend a few hours opening, eat again, spend a few more hours opening.  And often we have to come back the next day to start all over.  It dominates the holiday.