Author Topic: Your thoughts on gift-giving  (Read 2727 times)

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Offline shiny

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Your thoughts on gift-giving
« on: May 18, 2014, 03:58:31 PM »
For the life of me, I cannot decide whether to give DIL birthday gift this summer.
Over the last fours years of her marriage to DS, I've given her many gifts -- not just on special occasions, but just because ... Trying to show her in a tangible way that I love and accept her as family.
But she continues to grow colder and more distant to DH and me. Always civil and polite, but never taking initiative to email, call or visit. The last gift we gave her was n.i.c.e. And we got a formal email thank you. I'm beginning to think what's the use? It's now obvious that she doesn't desire any relationship with us, so is it ridiculous to continue gifting someone who doesn't care?
Will probably send a card though, so she will not think we're totally forgetting her.
Your thoughts?

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Your thoughts on gift-giving
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2014, 06:10:52 PM »
I often think, where gifts are concerned, it means more to the giver sometimes. I think I would ask her if she enjoys getting gifts or would rather not. Then the ball is in her court. I, for one, have such specific tastes that I would rather not have to work around that. I've asked those near, if they are so moved...to make it a little food treat. I live in a tiny, studio apartment and whenever I bring something in, I have to take something out. :-)
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Offline Stilllearning

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Re: Your thoughts on gift-giving
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2014, 05:27:59 AM »
Shiny, I am just wondering if your DIL has misread your intentions?  Maybe she thinks you are trying to buy her with your increasingly N.I.C.E. presents?  Maybe a less expensive and more personal gift?  Can your DS help you pick one?

Then again if you really do not want to give her a gift, don't.
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
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Offline Pooh

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Re: Your thoughts on gift-giving
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2014, 09:00:54 AM »
I've learned to go with this philosophy on gift giving.  And this is on everyone, not just a DIL.  I give gifts when I want to.  Not because they expect or don't expect, but solely because I decide to do it.  If they throw it in the garbage, well then that's on them.  They can like it, hate it, donate it, shoot it...whatever.  I don't worry about the thank yous any longer if it makes me feel good to do it.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline PFORTE

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Re: Your thoughts on gift-giving
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2014, 03:06:59 PM »
I completely agree with Pooh!  It's a gift.  If you're giving it with strings attached or as an obligatory item, then really, no one wants it.  We decided long ago that, no matter what the "emotion of the moment" we would spend a certain amount of $$ on our children ($200), their SO's ($100), their children ($50) etc.  Everyone gets the same, it's fair.  So if you're feeling more distant to someone this year, and closer to them next year - it all works out in the wash.  And if you can't give without expecting something back, then in my mind, it's not really giving.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 03:20:03 PM by luise.volta »

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Your thoughts on gift-giving
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2014, 03:25:25 PM »
If and when anyone finds a post modified, please keep in mind when posting that we are all pretty vulnerable. There's always a gentle way to express strong opinions. If not...better not to try. When we slip over into judgment, there is no place for it here.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Offline PFORTE

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Re: Your thoughts on gift-giving
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2014, 03:28:34 PM »
Not sure what I wrote - but thanks for fixing it.  I certainly don't intend to hurt anyone!

Offline shiny

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Re: Your thoughts on gift-giving
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2014, 06:30:10 PM »
Thanks everyone for weighing in ...

SL: I should have been more clear: the "nice" gift was for a college graduation and really DH's idea more than mine.

I believe my issue is more about our relationship, or lack thereof, and still trying to figure out where I stand with her.
I enjoy giving and don't expect thanks or anything in return. Just not sure if I should continue investing in a one-way relationship.
I'm probably not articulating my heart thoughts very well, since giving means something different to each one.

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Your thoughts on gift-giving
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2014, 06:51:31 PM »
You're doing fine, S. It's pretty hard to do a one-way guessing game in place of communication. All of us here are all guessing, too. If you ask her, it could be taken as criticism. Maybe you might suggest she do a wish list on Amazon...she might open up in her response. Or not. My kids like that I have one and use it sometimes.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Offline Stilllearning

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Re: Your thoughts on gift-giving
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2014, 02:08:58 AM »
Shiny most of us have been in your situation.  I felt like a dejected puppy, running after my DIL hoping for her to notice me.  The harder I tried, the faster she walked.  I had to stop.  Now I hear from them when they need something.  Oh well.  Maybe one day they will see the light.  At least I got a call for Mother's day this year, not that I was waiting for one!  I was out canoeing and having fun!!

I send gifts for special occasions but they are more to keep the lines open than to try to be close.  I don't think being close is in the cards and maybe it is just as well, for someone so young her health is a pretty constant topic and it gets tiring. 
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
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Offline herbalescapes

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Re: Your thoughts on gift-giving
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2014, 07:49:53 AM »
Since you've set the tradition of giving gifts, don't be surprised if you only send a card and then there is a backlash. How would you expect DIL and DS to interpret this change? Is it possible that DIL is just more reserved or introverted than you?  You sent her a nice gift and got a formal email thank you.  Is the problem it was formal? an email?  She doesn't initiate contact.  Maybe she and your DS have a your-family-your-responsibility mode of operating.  Or maybe you just don't wait long enough between contact for her to feel the need to initiate.  If you contact them every week, but she thinks it would be normal to conact each other every 3 weeks, it's no wonder she isn't initiating.  Maybe DIL is someone who prefers to get to know someone before becoming close.  If you've given gifts from the get-go, she could feel smothered or manipulated. 

I'm just trying to give alternatives to the view that DIL just doesn't care one whit about you. 

Gifts are always optional, so do what feels right to you. 

Offline Monroe

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Re: Your thoughts on gift-giving
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2014, 07:52:13 AM »
Thanks everyone for weighing in ...

 Just not sure if I should continue investing in a one-way relationship.


Shiny - I too have a DIL who is not interested in me or DH.  She made this clear even before the engagement.  I didn't give gifts to "keep score" or "buy friendship" - but to signal our openness, and to welcome her to the family.  She made it clear she was not interested. 

After a few years of giving her every chance, every benefit of the doubt, I finally threw in the towel.  We are civil.  We are even cordial if we are together, but I no longer get gifts for her.  I don't know why she didn't appreciate the gifts.  Maybe she thought it was pressure to form a relationship.  It was certainly an invitation, but not pressure.   

At Christmas they get $$$ as a couple - I don't give to my son alone - but I don't shop for personal items for her.  I don't give birthday gifts or for any other occasion.  Just Christmas, and joint cash for them as a couple.  So I cannot be said to neglect her.  But I also cannot be said to be "pressuring" her.  I didn't give the gifts to "control" her or "buy" her affection.  But I also, like Stilllearning, did not like that "dejected puppy" feeling.  My sense of pride and self-esteem returned (and I quit fretting over the relationship -or lack thereof - ) when I gave myself permission to quit giving gifts, quit acting like the desperate, dejected puppy, and focus on people who genuinely like me. 

No, she never calls or initiates any contact.  I accept that.  No other choice, really.  While I would have preferred a DIL who had some interest in our son's family, that's not what I got.  More gifts would not change that. 

Well, ladies, sorry for the long post.  Shiny just nailed it for me.  I know I'm not the only one.  Best wishes, Shiny. 

Offline Monroe

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Re: Your thoughts on gift-giving
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2014, 08:06:30 AM »
Since you've set the tradition of giving gifts, don't be surprised if you only send a card and then there is a backlash. How would you expect DIL and DS to interpret this change? . . . . . . .  If you've given gifts from the get-go, she could feel smothered or manipulated.   

Gifts are always optional, so do what feels right to you. 

I agree with Herbal that gifts are always optional. . I do think that one should not take action or not based on a fear of backlash.  It would be a shame for Shiny to feel obligated to give a gift to an unappreciative person for fear of backlash if Shiny varied from "tradition".  If the DIL has made her disinterest clear, I see the card as a very nice thought.  The DIL is not forgotten - the occasion is acknowledged - and nobody could think Shiny is being smothering or manipulative. 

In her first post, Shiny expressed the feeling "What's the use?"  Been there, done that, we too transitioned from the gift-giving-that-was-not-appreciated to not-gift-giving, and the lovely card was the tool for the transition. 

Shiny, do what YOU want.  But don't be controlled by a fear of backlash.  You matter. 

Offline Pen

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Re: Your thoughts on gift-giving
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2014, 08:49:20 AM »
The DIL gift thing is something I haven't figured out yet. I still give gifts to keep the lines open (like SL said) even though DS told us before Christmas a couple of years ago not to give DIL anything because "She doesn't deserve it." I guess she'd been saying some disparaging things about us to DS and her FOO.

Everything regarding gifts between DS, DIL, and us leaves me feeling awkward and unsettled, as do most of our interactions with the two of them. I'm very tired of feeling humiliated and "less than." I'm also tired of watching DDD's disappointment when she hopes for closeness and gets rejection. One day we'll decide to stop hitting ourselves in the head with a giant mallet, but I'm not ready to cut off DS because of his wife just yet.

The best gift for me would be a day when DS & I could spend some time together, just chillin.' We used to be able to communicate freely and I miss that. He used to proudly give us great gifts (not expensive) that took thought and a little effort. Now we get generic "awful in-law" gifts. The whole thing is yucky and I hate it for what it all represents.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline shiny

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Re: Your thoughts on gift-giving
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2014, 07:07:47 PM »
Everyone's thoughts and comments are deeply appreciated and have given me much to ponder.
I didn't realize that the issue of gift-giving would open a can of worms, though!
HS, I appreciate the points you mentioned and will consider.
Monroe, your advice is encouraging -- to do what I want because I matter!
I'm one of those in our family that tries to meet everyone's needs/whims but my own.
Working on that issue, too!
Pen, I understand your heart's desire, to just spend time with your son. I think about that too -- how it would be nice to sit on the porch with him, with lemonade or whatever and just talk. Sniff ...