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Started by Doe, October 04, 2011, 02:22:07 pm

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OK, I've given my opinion about giving gifts to people who treat you badly but I want to put this to a survey again.

We were setting up a budget for the next few months and when we came to 'gifts' my first thought was I can save some money here since DIL won't talk to me anymore.   Then I thought, well, maybe I should just be the bigger person and give her the same gifts that we always did.   Don't let her actions affect mine.

The set up is we give money to DSs for BD and Christmas, an amount that's grown enough over the years to the point where I'm satisfied with the amount.  I think it's enough that I don't really need to give anything else for Christmas but we couple-exchange much smaller presents (something that DIL started).  On birthdays, I give DIL cash but in a much smaller amount than I give DS.   

I would be comfortable not giving DIL anything, knowing she'll benefit from DSs gift,  but I could also see cultivating a more gracious side of myself and just give her the gifts without expecting anything in return.    Curious what others are doing.



I was thinking the same thing myself, not because I want to save money but because recently I've come to the realization that DIL really hates me, and any reminder from me will probably make her very angry, DS has told me many times that she wants nothing to do with me and she may think I'm trying to buy her affection. When I do something for someone, I do it from the bottom of my heart. 
I'm interested to hear how others feel about getting gifts from people they detest.


Doe, this is probably a universal question here at WW I guess.  I think on this topic way too much, not only at Christmas but also the b/d, or all the general 'I"m thinking of you" gifts I always loved to give. 

My #1 problem area:  ds.  I will certainly see ds at Christmas through other relatives, gifts will be there for others, and do I not give ds a gift?  So say I cave in and do it again anyway, resuming my old thinking  that if I just keep on being kind it will surely break through.  Then I whip around and think is only causing more animosity in him to receive a gift, and am I doing it just so I don't feel like a bad Mom who left out her son?  On the other hand, strangely he always OPENS his gift.  Why?  It seems more sensible to not open it at all if you just want to lash out at someone passive aggressively.  I don't know what to do about this.  This is the first year (anniversary actually) when ds told me point blank he didn't want me in his life.  If I just KNEW what was the right thing to do, I'd follow through, but either way it feels wrong.

#2) A sibling I just never bonded with.  She never cared for me, I've come to terms.  She gives the token gift, do I reciprocate so I don't feel like a bad sister?  I always did before, I guess I will continue to do so, but sometimes I wonder if its really honest, or the most loving thing to do.


I used to give gifts to my foo - their bd and xmas.  I remembered them all, but they did not care really.  I do not give gifts anymore except to friends or if my dc actually come for a visit. 

I am giving away family heirloom type things to my children and usually have a box of stuff when they come.  They seem to appreciate this because of the family history, etc..  And I benefit becasue i don't have to cart this stuff around anymore.  I am passing it to the next generation.  I used to love Christmas, but dc have chosen to spend all christmas' with their father' family 3000 miles away.  I say nothing, and it does hurt.  I used to mentor a developmentally disabled young man in our neighborhood and invite him for Christmas.  Now I visit friends or just stay home and watch movies.  I kind of like it now - no expectations, and xmas shopping is a breeze!  Like there is none!

My bottom line is, I do not give gifts to people with whom I have no or little relationship.  I have found that everyone survives it, and no one really misses the gift giving.  I don't want to receive gifts from folks who don't like me or treat me badly, and I can appreciate that others feel the same.  I end up regifting or just putting those gifts in a goodwill box.

Cookies are always nice...


I like your style, SJ :)

We've always given the same $$$ amount to DS, DIL & DDD at Christmas and birthdays, quite a nice sum for us. Last year after DIL told DS she thought we were losers and that she hated us, DS said to give her nothing for Christmas. So what was I to do? It would have been very awkward to have gifts for everyone else but nothing for DIL. I ended up giving as usual.

DDD still loves presents & DH wants to give gifts if he feels like it, darn it! No DS/DIL/DW or SMIL is gonna tell him he can't! Otherwise I'd gladly let the whole thing go. I'd rather loan the money to women trying to get out of poverty (like or ?)
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Doe - you said

"I would be comfortable not giving DIL anything, knowing she'll benefit from DSs gift,  but I could also see cultivating a more gracious side of myself and just give her the gifts without expecting anything in return."

I think it is perfectly fine - even advisable - to skip giving gifts to a DIL who won't even talk to you.  As for cultivating your more gracious side - that is fine, too, just be sure you can actually "give the gifts without expecting anything in return."   That's easier said than done.  I think many of us might think we could do so - but there would, in most cases, be an expectation that would rear its ugly head only after we gave the gift and the recipient didn't respond/ was rude/ still wouldn't talk to us, whatever. 

If you can TRULY not have any expectations at all, go ahead and give the gift if you want.  (And then share with all of us how you got your expectations down to an absolute zero level  :) )

If that little smidgen of expectation is still lurking inside you, best to skip the gifting.


No gifts for the DIL, nada - respect her decision to have zero contact, and move on. She may see your gifts not as gracious but as a way to force contact. Save your energy and your money -  :)


My advice is don't cut off your DIL.  Sent her something small but thoughtful.  If it were me, I would not send money, because that is just an invitation for her to compare her amount with the amount you send DS.

My DIL has never ever acknowledged any gift I sent to her.  (5 yrs of birthday, christmas, spontaneous flowers, cards, etc.)  After years of crying (because my son was crying), I finally pulled myself together and stopped all the intermediate gifts, but continued with the b-day and x-mas.  I did it because I didn't want my son to be able to blame me for the non-relationship I have with DIL.  (She won't allow me in her house, won't come here, won't speak to me, won't answer emails, doesn't acknowledge gifts). 

Then ... 1 month ago ... at my nephew's wedding, we were seated at the same table.  I was totally gracious to her, included her in the conversation, etc.  SUCCESS!  She has asked to come with DS when he visits us for a pre-Thanksgiving visit.  She will actually stay at my small apt for 2 days!!!  I believe this may be the start of DS and DIL including his FOO in the Thanksgiving/Christmas visits.  (Normally, they spend all holidays at her FOO). 

So now I am thankful that I didn't cut her off.  I am thankful that I persevered.  I am not particularly thankful for myself, because in truth I have emotionally disconnected from DIL, but I am thankful for DS, because he can now begin to have good holidays with his fun-loving sister and his obnoxious parents!!!


I think it depends on the relationship.  If you've been told "no gifts", then go with 'no gifts'.  If you've been told to leave them alone, well, that means no gifts too.

BUT, if you have a civil relationship with even the smallest hope of getting better, you should give DIL an equal gift to what you give your DS.  If you have a budget, then you split it up fairly.

Because, this is one of the issues I have with my MIL.  She plays favourites.  And you can tell your "standing" with her based on the gift you get (if you get one).  My DH is CLEARLY the Favourite, his gifts are always more significant than SIL's (never mind mine).

And I firmly believe that this is MIL hammering nails into the coffin of our relationship.


Amflautist - you are the role model of the day!   

Trying and Barbie - you make excellent points that if Doe does give DIL something, it may not be appreciated, but rather resented.  Totally agree.  Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.

And I disagree with Scoop that gifts must be equal between DS and DIL.  My wonderful FIL and MIL (stepMIL actually, but we dropped the "step" part years ago - she's the only MIL I have and is a wonderful lady)  always gave DH and our kids gifts for birthdays.  I generally got cards.  I was totally fine with that, I had their love and respect and certainly didn't need tangible gifts.  They are on a fixed income - and I always wished they would keep their money for themselves.   (At Christmas DH and I would receive a joint gift, which was great) - but the point is that I didn't care about gifts - I cared about them, and they cared about me.  Gifts are just one way of showing that caring.  There are many other ways. 

I expected the relationship DH has with FIL to be closer than what I have with FIL.  I also expect my relationship with MIL to not be quite as strong as her relationship with her blood son and his wife.  ( I have only been DIL for 20 years - other DIL has been that for over 40 years.)  That doesn't mean my relationship with DH FOO isn't wonderful -- it is.  I am just not into scorekeeping with my DH, his step-brother or SIL.  It is just not a contest.  So gifts need to be appropriate for each relationship - and we all need to quit keeping score. 


I bought both OS and DIL a Christmas gift last year (equal value), but I didn't send them to them.  They had 3 opportunities to show up at a family event, or to contact us and let us know when was good for them (weeks before or weeks after Christmas).  I carried the gifts with me to each event.

They chose to not show up or make other arrangements...never even called.  So I stuck the gifts in my closet, and there they are still today.  I was not going to mail them to them since they chose not to participate.  I will pull them back out again this year and carry them with me to the family events.  If they show up, they will have something....if they don't...back in the closet.

I like giving gifts but to me the holidays have become so entrenched in gift-giving, that it causes to much stress.  My family agreed last year to give up buying for adults and just buy for the babies.  My DH's family agreed to give up the gifts and play the "Dirty Santa" game.  We enjoyed our time together and it took alot of pressure off of everyone, both mentally and financially.

We did let our AC children know that we still wanted to buy them something, but there was no need to reciprocate.   Doe, I don't care for my DIL, but I still bought her something because I was buying for OS.  She's never appreciative either, but I feel it's the right thing to do.  I think you either buy for both, neither or a couple gift if you are going to do something.  I don't ever feel obligated to purchase a gift for anyone.  I do it when I want to or else it's not a gift.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Ugh, gifts.  This year we are only giving to kids and immediate family (DH, DD and I.)  My family is more than ok with it, they know we have massive bills from the fertility treatments.  DHs FOO is already whining.

I think you should give what you want, follow your heart on this.  Gifts (giving or receiving) should be a pleasant experience.  For many, it doesn't seem like it is anymore.

I can see the benefit in giving an equal gift if there is a chance of reconciliation.  I also can see someone feeling bought off if they aren't speaking.  It's impossible to tell what your DIL is thinking since she won't speak with you, so go with your heart.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


I love you all!  You are so wonderful, intelligent and Very Gracious!  ;D

I just did a quick read through and have to run, but I realized from tryingmybests' comment that it's not graciousness I would be going for but besting - as in "See, I can still be a bigger person than you by giving you something even if you don't like me."  Ugh, I didn't even realize I was thinking that but honestly, that was the real intention.

I appreciate all the feedback and I'll probably just go with my initial impulse to not give her gifts anymore.


Doe - you could also just send a card - which leaves the door open, but does not involve "besting".  Good luck to you.  Detachment is hard.


Pen, your comment reminded me that in the past, and I still do this on an ancesters (parents, grandparents, great grand parents) birthday, I will buy an animal for the heifer project or contribute to habitat or some such thing.  I still do that with friends; I think it means more to people who have plenty of everythign and dont' need one more trinket or article of clothing, etc.  I have also been known to buy gifts anonymously and contribute them to people in need.  Also I like to buy robes or other needs and give to the local nursing home to folks who have no one.

This works for me.  Story about my mother:  She returned every gift I gave her and usually with some kind of demeaning comment about the gift 'not being good enough.'  That is when I started giving to nonprofs, and they would send her a card.  Or I gave her acard indicating my gifting to an alone elderly woman in the nursing home.  It's making me laugh thinking about how confusing my mother was. She used to 'brag' that she thought she had Jewish blood because of her intelligence or ability with money, etc. etc.  (she was fundamentally racist, sexist, etc. however).  She sometimes cultivated Jewish friends and bragged about that.  One Christmas, I "sponsored' a tree from a Jewish organization in Israel.  They were reforesting in Israel, and I thought that sounded like a good nonviolent thing to do.  So they sent my mother a card thanking for the gift in her name.  The tree was to have a plaque with my mother's name and 'in honor' written on it.  I didn't hear the end of that for almost two years!  How dare I!! After all, she was a supporter of the Palestinians!!!  It was so ridiculous.  But it makes me smile when I think of that little tree... in Israel somewhere ... with my mother's name on it...   :-*