Holiday Family Issues- what would you do?

pecanpieDecember 14, 2005

Well, I don't know if there's anything to be done, actually, but I sure needed to vent.

I hope this does not sound small and petty and greedy- that's not the issue. My parents are about to hurt my DH's feelings and I'm steaming.

DH has looked all over for the perfect cashmere jacket for my dad, I took care of Mom. My parents are giving me an undercounter radio/CD player for the kitchen and something extravagant that I probably won't use/wear (annual tradition...) The girls are getting really nice designer scarves and gloves and boyz get electronic do-dads. They are giving my DH a book.

Is this weird? DH's mom gave me a set of cookie cutters two years ago, and the other SIL an entire set of Christmas dishes, so I know how awkward it feels. But she's nuts, and that's another story.

My parents, esp. my dad, are hyper-sensitive, and I don't know that I would bring this up to them anyway, because these are GIFTS, ya know- you can't tell people what to buy and what to spend. I'm considering getting some other stuff for DH and putting tags from my parents on them.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Is it a really good book? Something he has been looking for? Rare?
If that isn't the case do your parents generally dismiss your husband?

Adding deceit to the situation will not be helpful.

They are your parents I would expect that you would get more from them the way of gifts, they are also your responsibility to deal with if they are being mean to your husband.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 11:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oooh, pecan, that's a tough one. But I wouldn't try to cover for your parents. Even if you know your DH will be hurt, just be there for him and show him you are on his side. Hiding the truth doesn't really help, IMO.

OTOH, DH and I are pretty frank with each other and don't generally do the white lie thing, so it would feel weird to me, but it's all about your personalities and the way you work as a couple. Everybody's different!

I have kind of been in your shoes a couple of times. His mother has gotten him really puzzling gifts -- like a belt with the sale tag still on -- while going to the trouble to get something monogrammed for me, for example. In those cases we have opened the gift, agree it's rude, it makes no sense, and moved on. In my MIL's case the strange behavior is in keeping with her usual MO anyway. Sounds like it's the same way with your parents.

And I know this has nothing to do with greediness -- it's about fairness. IMO, it would feel better to be joined in solidarity with your DH about how ridiculous it is than to try to cover it up. Sounds like your parents don't even know they have to save face anyway.

Your other option would be to suggest something a little nicer to them that your DH also may want for Christmas, just to try to even the score in an honest way ahead of time.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 11:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, you're right- deceit is never the answer. But sometimes it looks pretty good.

The book isn't rare, it's probably on the top ten bestseller list.

This isn't particularly mean, but it is unfeeling of them, I think.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 11:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My husband has never cared about what gifts his parents or my parents give him. Would your DH really be upset, or will it upset you?

Most guys don't seem to care from my experience.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 11:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Could it be they really don't know what he might like and that there's no hint of ill-will intended? My mom used to give my DH books because she could always find a nice book on a subject that interested him, and a book was thoughtful but not too personal. Also, she never really considered the relative monetary value of gifts (taboo in our family), and enjoys books very much herself. (I finally had to tell her that DH is probably dyslexic, and suggest some other avenues. She was relieved, not offended.)

Anyway, my suggestion is either to mention an alternative to your folks, or to give them one of the other items you got for DH, with the explanation that you already got him so many little things that he'd be annoyed with you - why didn't they include this with the book? If they are reluctant, you could let drop about the cashmere jacket, and simply point out that you're wanting to prevent the embarassment that might otherwise result.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 11:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mariposa, he's a very giving person- loves to buy for others and spends a lot of time thinking about what would be the perfect thing for everyone on his list. Not the typical guy thing, I know.

He would open the gift and say he'd been wanting to read the book and was delighted,, but I think he would be very aware of the inequity. Our KIDS will be aware of it- probably ask us about it. He would be very gracious thanking them, as he always is. He is a delightful receiver as well as giver.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 11:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You are getting personal "something extravgant to wear", he is getting a book. Maybe the undercounter radio/CD player will be tagged as a combination gift for both??? This is probably wishful thinking on my part. Do you really think your DH will be hurt? Could you possibly ask one parent if the tag could include both names?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 11:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Pecanpie. You know this is tough. If your parents are hyper-sensitive, then they may very well be embarrassed by the inequity of gift value. Then again, do they have any idea about how much a cashmere jacket costs?

I know that when we exchange gifts: we always sign EVERY CARD to a niece or nephew as from "Aunt Sheri & Uncle Steve & Kiddos"; To any of my siblings we sign "Sheri, Steve, & Kiddos"; To my parents, we sign "The Chase Family".

I have four kiddos and a brother and sister each with two children and spouses. I buy multiple gifts for each because we have more in our family. Of late, I've given the spouses valued gifts together. Like this year, I'm giving them knives that are on the pricey side. I'll wrap them individually and sign those cards, "S, S, & Kiddos" -Vs- signing from each individual child.

My parents have always treated our spouses with generous respect making sure that they felt valued. If they couldn't shop or think of anything they wanted, they bought Home Depot gift certificates which tickles them orange!

I think it's a shame to let hard feelings develop like this. I would consider having a chat with your parents with a suggestion that they either give you both the under counter CD player with both names (nothing wrong with this at all) or maybe have DH drop the coat gift doing something more equitable if that will make you feel better.

I know this: I always try to come up with something to surprise my parents with genuine thoughts to make them know I noticed a 'need' in their life that may give them some pleasure. It gives me the greater joy knowing that I have brought some joy to their lives, no matter what the cost.

I've done some gorgeous needlework for family that I've learned that they just don't appreciate. They have no idea how much time it takes to do it, cost, as well as framing expenses. When I know they have pieces stuck in a back room or stacked up in a corner, it irks me. I've been tempted to ask them that if they would prefer, I would appreciate having what I made back in exchange for a gift certificate. Now, I've learned to just let it go. If they want to discard/discount my hard efforts, then it's theirs to destroy. I just do my best to not let my feelings get hurt along the way. I also don't do needle work for certain individuals.

You made me think of something I'm dealing with myself. My sister made me a vest a few years ago. I hate it, but I keep it. Why? Because she made it. Every now and then she brings it up and I can say, "I still have that vest! It is one of the best made vests I've ever owned." It makes her feel good knowing I've kept this vest so long.

Pardon me for digressing. I have so much on my mind this morning. Please let us know how this works out. I would do everything I could to protect my DH; however, supplementing my parent's gift would not be what I would do. This could backfire.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 11:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I wish it would be tagged for us both. I could ask if I could change the tag- but my dad is really funny about things being for ME. He gets pretty vocal about it.

But I can ask.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 11:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Pecanpie, I empathize with what you're experiencing. The holidays always seem to highlight family tensions like nothing else does.

I agree that, although your intentions are the best, trying to smooth the situation by faking gifts from your parents is not the answer. I did this once when I was in college -- my younger sister had asked my dad for a pair boots for Christmas, and he did not give her any boots, but did give some to my brother (who had not asked for them). If I'm feeling charitable I think maybe he was confused over who asked for what, but really, I doubt it. My sister's face when my brother opened those boots just broke my heart. Being a compulsive "fixer," I quick ran to the other room and made up a coupon, "Good for One Boot-Shopping Trip, Love, Susan," wrapped it up and snuck it under the tree, hoping she would think that's how we planned it all along. Well, she saw through it and although she appreciated my gesture, it didn't fix anything. Rather, in a way, it almost made it worse by suggesting that somehow everything could be made right if only she ended up with those boots, one way or another. It was obviously about so much more than that.

Now, I realize your situation is a bit different because your husband and your parents have a relationship only through you, so you (probably) feel more responsible. But is their relationship generally good, or tense, or indifferent, or ... ? If it is not so good in the first place, will you really be accomplishing anything by giving him false gifts? It seems likely that he would find out that they're not really from your parents (He: "Thank you for the watch." They: "Huh?") You may need to make some painful decisions about how you want your relationship with your family to be if they spurn your husband, but, as mgmsrk says, it will not be helpful to try to deceive him, in the long run.

OTOH, if they have a warm relationship ito begin with, is there another explanation for the seeming inequtiy in gift-giving? Could they see the radio/CD players as a gift for both of you, since it's "for the house?" Do they think the book they're getting him is the thing he wants most in the world (this would be true for my husband; he likes nothing more than books, and always gets them from my family). Perhaps their intentions are good, and perhaps your husband will know that.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 11:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My XH and I had a good relationship with my parents and they were always very generous and they liked my XH a lot. But, if this had happened in my family, I would have looked at them and said, somewhat incredulously "that's all you are getting my husband!" and I could have said it and not started a huge family fight. On the other hand, XH's family was (is) nuts, we all just smiled and thanked them for their strange inappropriate gifts, and had a lot of (malicious) fun with them through out the year.

If they don't like him, it seems like you'd know it by now. I think you need some sort of an explanation from your parents. It may be an honest mistake or misunderstanding. Maybe they just don't know what to get him. Even if he's not "their son" he's your husband and should be treated decently, and maybe they need to be reminded of that, in a decent, kind way.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 12:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

WeÂve had this issue with my parents. One year, I got a cashmere sweater and DH got (I kid you not) a pair of socks. Cotton socks. My mother always bought more expensive gifts for my brother and me than for our spouses. I guess she was still shopping for her babies, and these new people (spouses) just werenÂt on the same level. And if my mother could have picked her own SIL (donÂt think she didnÂt try!), she would have picked my SH. His parents go to great lengths to spend the same on everyone, to the point of sometimes one time labeling something that was clearly for DH with my name. Could it be that your parents are at a loss as to what to get your husband? My MIL still considers me a mystery after a decade. I donÂt expect this to change. I doubt your parents are trying to slight or hurt your husband, but they probably donÂt see the situation the same way you do. Do your siblings spouses receive the same treatment?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 1:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This reminds me of a wedding gift I got - that I could never figure out. One fitted white sheet and a decorative wooden bowl that I think the giver picked up on a vacation in Mexico. This was from an aunt and uncle - some of my closer relatives.

Maybe we're weird but we just don't get worked up about what gifts we get or in some cases don't get. In my opinion it's really up to the giver to decide what they want to give or not give. I just accept whatever I get and say thank-you. If someone gives nothing, I don't say anything about it and I continue to give them something if I want to do so. For me the holidays aren't about material things and I really try not to let that kind of stuff put a damper on the spirit of the season.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 1:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm having brain-lock, scotland, what's a SH?
No other spouses in the picture. I'm glad you posted- this is exactly the situation. Cotton socks- makes a book look pretty good! Oh, my!

My parents are somewhat difficult- I ignore their control issues most of the time and pick my battles carefully. Even though this involves DH's feelings, I'm not sure it's a hill I want to die on. Lest I appear unfeeling, we will certainly both laugh about how odd they can be, and there are certainly other occasions where I have more of a need to put my foot down firmly. I save up for those if I can.

I do envy you all who can blurt out to your families, "What in the world were you thinking?" without starting WWIII or provoking a silent sulky retreat. We are working on making sure we can communicate better in our nuclear family. As DivaD1 and DS approach 'marriagable age', all this gives me great food for thought in regards to making sure their spouses feel cherished as well.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 2:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"...but my dad is really funny about things being for ME. He gets pretty vocal about it."

Ooh. Sounds like there is a funny dynamic going on there.

My parents have always given my sister and I much more expensive gifts than they give our spouses. But our spouses don't give individual gifts to our parents, or just give smaller ones (actually, we buy and wrap gifts from our spouses. They one does a lick of shopping.) Both our families operate the same way, so it works well.

But I understand the issue completely. When DH and I got married I was really into the who stationary thing. My MIL mentioned seeing the thank you note at her sister's and she commented that she hadn't sent us a gift yet. And she never has. Two and a half years later and we have yet to receive a card. This is a woman who buys gifts for her sister's grandchildren's baptisms. She buys Halloween cards. DH's cousin married one of my best friends a few months after we got married and they got a generous gift (more than she could afford to give). YET WE DIDN'T EVEN GET A CARD! Ok, it bothers me. DH says "who cares". But how can it not bother him that she couldn't even bother to buy a card?

I would have your DH pick out something other than a cashmere jacket. Maybe give the jacket from both of you at a later time, like for a birthday.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 2:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

One other question -- Will you all be together opening gifts? Or will your parents open the gifts from you at their house and you opening the ones from them at yours?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 2:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh pecan, I know exactly how you feel!! I'm so sorry, too. I am in exactly the same position and there is no easy answer to it. My mother always gives me a lot of gifts - some small and silly, but others quite expensive. She likes to travel and she buys things for me from her trips. Whenever we visit, she has a gift bag for me, my sister, the kids, but never for DH. He gets gloves that are size small (he's 6'3") from Costco for Christmas while I get a gold ring with two aquamarines (our twins' birthstone) and little diamonds. For his birthday, he got a book (paperback). She buys him (sorry - this is unkind) stupid things, like a really ugly bobble-head or a plastic butterfly that sticks to the window. She thinks he'll find them funny, and he's too nice to do anything but pretend to be amused. However, after 6 years he IS hurt. It is really creating a breach because he sees it as her affirmation that she doesn't consider him family or important. I think I've mentioned before that my mom is bipolar and my coping technique has always been to try to please and mediate. I'm not very successful at confronting my mom and she knows it.

However, I have decided that I can't continue to keep quiet about it (I have tried subtlety, which of course was a flat-out failure). I honestly am not sure what is motivating my mom to do this, as it is not unintentional but most likely not conscious, either. My mom will not listen well, she will react explosively and who knows what tensions will arise as a result. However, I am finally at a stage in my life at which I realize that an explosion is really the lesser evil. Being party to behavior that is wrong by not addressing it is not good for anyone, it's just easier on me. If my mom wants to share holidays with us, then I feel it is important for her to respect all of us. Her gifts show a lack of respect for my dh and I just can't tolerate that anymore.

In my case it isn't a matter of her choosing something silly or small because she doesn't know what else to get. And whether or not a guy likes/wants/cares about getting gifts is truly irrelevant. It isn't about the gift per se but the statement that is being made to that guy when gift-giving occasions turn into set-downs.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 2:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Can the undercounter radio/CD player be for both of you?

I don't get anything for Christmas from my parents, I'm Jewish. Ok, I can accept that, but I don't get anything from my parents for Chanukah or my birthday either. They say they've given me "enough." Granted, they are very loving and supportive parents, but they are anti-materialistic. Except when it comes to their grandkids, of course.

Oh! I forgot the other twist to the story. My dh and my sil (my brother's wife) get gifts, even cash for their birthdays. My brother and I don't.

There's no pattern here, is there?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 2:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

pecanpie: I think that if this were happening to me, I would have a quiet talk with my parents to find out their rationale for "undergifting" your DH. Maybe they really do need assistance because they just don't know what to get your DH and would welcome some ideas.

You say your Dad is hyper-sensitive; well then perhaps he can relate and be empathetic with how it feels to be "slighted" by an inadequate gift. If your dad knew that your DH was going store to store looking for the perfect cashmere jacket for him, would he still want to give DH a book? If you were both getting books, then fine. But the inequality in gifts is really out of whack and I think you need to find out why.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 3:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, if it makes you feel any better, last year my MIL got me a dressy shirt (to wear under a suit). It was pretty.

But it was a size 18. I'm a size 2.

I'd rather get the book. ;)

I understsand what you're saying about the inequalities, and it's the same in DH's family. He just says don't worry about it, and after all these years, I don't let her get to me (well, I try not to, anyway).

Sometimes he'll warn me about what's ahead and that makes me feel a little better. He'll say something like, "my mom's really starting to show her age; listen to what she did now"....

It makes me feel better, it covers for her, and it lets me know he's being protective (for lack of a better word) of me.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 3:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Pecan - you and your dh sound like real sweethearts. I am sure it warms his heart to know that you worry about his feelings and that is what counts. I think you are right in choosing your battles carefully.

I have a similar story about stepmonster but I will save for another day (and yes they include socks too but they were thermal lol!!!).

Seeking - I think you hit the nail on the head - it really comes down to respect. Good luck with your stand with your mom - it sounds like it is a long time coming and an important step for you.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 3:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Did anyone else read this essay from the new issue of Newsweek? Makes a lot of sense to me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stop the insnaity---homemade Christmas

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 4:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Unless you have a fabulous sense of humor and extraordinary tact, I'm afraid you can't bring this issue up with your parents without offending them. They'll see you as either greedy or ungrateful.

DH & I stopped expecting good gifts from other people years ago. We are the only ones who know each other well enough to give what we really like (books! We love to read).

I say let it go.

Hope you find this amusing:
In our first year of marriage, my MIL gave me a beat-up wooden board with a knife on a chain that kept breaking (for "serving cheese") and some scratched, dented metal coasters with a Spode Christmas tree design, and something else equally useless & battered. I thought she'd sent them as a joke (DH's family likes practical jokes) and called her up laughing about the gifts. I was mortified to find out she'd given them to me in all earnestness: they were garage sale finds that were just too good to pass up, in her opinion.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 5:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, awm, I have a fabulous sense of humor, but not enough tact to pull this off.

After reading about the stepmonsters, garage sale specials, shirts just 8 sizes too large and the bobble-heads I had a good laugh and I feel better! But, snookums, I can't fathom your situation at all, bless your heart! That would be very hard to deal with.

Sweeby, we will not be opening presents with them. We are home this year with DH's family- all live within a couple of miles.

And Sue, a "funny dynamic"? Understatement at its best.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 7:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with awm. There's not a thing you can do without starting a storm. When I was young, we always got together with my dad's family for Christmas dinner. We'd always have a great time going shopping with my mom for my cousins' gifts, and each one would be picked out with some thought behind it... until the year I was given a 10 pack of Bic pens.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 8:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

OK, we have established that our elderly parents and inlaws can be strange and unfathomable. Somehow it gives me a warm feeling to know that it's not just MY family, it seems to be a common thing.

My husband and I have decided to take the smooth path and just smile and say thank you while mentally boggling. We snuggle in bed afterwards and laugh about the wonderful weirdness of family relationships.

Sure there is some exasperation and hurt feelings on our part, but we try not to let it leak out into the holiday festivities.

My husband and I both learned the hard way that our parents won't be around forever and we have made a pledge to try and make the time we have left with our mothers as pleasant for them as possible. Even if they are a little weird. :)

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 9:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think if I had your family, I'd start a conversation saying to your Dad that you can't wait to see him open his present, that DH looked and looked and found something perfect for him. And oh by the way, I know you got DH that book but if you were wanting to get him anything else, I know he'd also love blank blank and if you do want to get it, I can even pick it up for you.

It could be that they are just clueless and didn't know what to get or do you think they would hurt DH on purpose?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 11:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


This will be the Christmas that your DH will be a stellar role model to your precious children of how to accept any gift with real grace. How fortunate for your children to see this example in their father. It will go far in teaching them about gratitude, fairness, respect, and the true value of material things.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 7:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you for reminding me of this, Cup.

I also needed demicent's reminder that, as one grandmother used to say, "Everyone's odd but me and thee...and sometimes I wonder about thee!"

With all these suggestions and funny family stories to ruminate on for the past 24 hours, and after sleeping on the situation- it's a whole new day and I don't feel the urgency I did to step in and 'fix' things.

Bill- a 10 pack of Bic pens?????

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 8:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

True story.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 8:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

SH is a typo. I meant DH. It must be time to cut my nails!

We, too, have given up on getting "good" presents from our families. I don't mean expensive. My MIL buys me things that she would like to receive, and wants everyone to have several things to open. So I get several little fancy flowery pastel things (there's nothing floral or pastel in my house or wardrobe) and a chance to practice my acting ability in front of the kids. It doesn't bother me anymore. She does try so hard, and we have the kids to focus on now. Since my mother died and my father's Alzheimer's worsened, it's not an issue on my side anymore.

Now when we spent Christmas at the in-laws (out of town) and they gave my then 1.5 year old daughter (their only grandchild at the time) a bunch of stuff that MIL told her she couldn't take home because it all had to live at Grandma's house, and told her that Santa didn't come to our house, only Grandma's house? That made me a tad upset. Christmas morning is now at my house.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 9:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

pecan, if this is a one-time thing then I wouldn't worry about it, but if it's a pattern then I totally disagree with most of the posters here. I feel that a pattern of slights to your dh is something that needs to be discussed with your parents. I think that it can't help but be a little poisonous to the family when one member is constantly set apart in a negative way. That is why, after 6 years, I am having this discussion with my mom. I didn't mean to imply that I would be yelling at her - I just plan to tell her why I think that her gifts are sending him the wrong message and that while I'm sure that isn't her intent, I thought she ought to know so she could be sure not to exclude him in the future. Something like that, anyway. I think that it is VERY important for kids to learn that there is a time to let things go, but equally important is the lesson that there is a time to stand your ground. I was trained to accept any treatment from my family, including mistreatment, which led to allowing it from people in general, boyfriends, first husband, etc. It is a huge struggle for me to this day to stand up for myself.

I reread your original post and I see that I probably jumped the gun in assuming this was an ongoing problem. Sorry! I was superimposing my situation on yours.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 11:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I totally agree with what seekingadvice said.

If you could just have a non-confrontational friendly discussion with your parents, it might be a good thing. As far as lessons go, it's not fair if your DH is being singled out for lesser treatment and it's something the kids will notice. The lesson of being fair to everyone is one that I think is important - it's not about the gift, it's about treating people with respect and dignity and making sure no one is left out.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 2:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Two extra bits...

Many many yrs ago my own dm gave the then dh a book. He did want it and intended to read it but life and grad school interferred. Yrs later, we found a $20 inside. That was a much larger sum of money in 1969 and sadly by then my mother was dead.

#2. I am curious as to how you know all the gifts that are being given so far in advance? If someone is telling you that you're getting an x, y or z, is there some implicit approval that the giver is expecting? I can't imagine telling any of my children or grandchildren that next month they're getting a fill in the blank.

btw, we don't give almost any seasonal gifts because it just seemed to stop on its own yrs ago when 1st h and I were divorced. It keeps a lot of grief out of our, and our grown children's lives.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 2:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

MsA- they let me pick out the scarves for the girls, asked if I wanted a CD player on the undercabinet stereo, and I dunno- they just always tell me what they've gotten/will get everyone. They always have, partially because they want me to clear certain things for them (for example- no video games, no cell-phone for the pre-teen, hell no to a fur coat for DivaD1, you get the picture) and they seem to appreciate the guidance- in fact they ask first.

There have been other years where DH's gifts have been, shall we say, not commensurate with the others given. But it's been 3 books- not one! But there have been other years where he has received gorgeous sweaters or other lovely clothing. Maybe I'm just dense- I never connected it with their being irritated with him.

I had mentioned that DH's mom is nuts- the strangest gift she ever gave was a birthday book to me- it was porn. I kid you not. She knows I love to cook, and the title was something about a cook or a kitchen, but she obviously didn't read the back cover or any of the text. It wasn't just 'steamy'- it was raw- and I pitched it into a dumpster on our way home from her house. The back of the dust jacket said it was a 'tossed salad of kitchen porn' or something along that line. I did get a chance to tell her when she asked me if I'd read the book yet. She wasn't as horrified as I thought she'd be, and that's when DH declared her officially nuts.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 2:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Perhaps your parents are "undergifting" your DH because your DH's parents have given you "not so stellar" gifts in the past? Like cookie cutters vs. set of dishes, and crazy cookbooks...kind of a "tit for tat" thing?
Either way, it makes a few folks in your families feel awkward on a somewhat regular basis. Time for a "heart to heart" with both yours and DH's sets of with yours and he with his, respectively.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 3:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

pecan: maybe she *did* read the porn book and thought it was funny (a joke gift), which is why she wasn't horrified!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 3:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

jerzeegirl, uh, I don't think so! Unless she's A-1, first class, undeniably supremely nuts. Which is up for debate...

mrsmarv, good point, and a possibility, but that would be pretty darn small of them. DH's parents are very supportive- in many ways, and they know that.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 4:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Pecanpie - I just spit out my tea. OMG!!!! Porn from your MIL!!!! aaaahhhhhhhhhhh !!!!!! tossed salad of kitchen porn!!!! I can't take it!!!!!!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 5:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yeah, Maggie- and I think DH was more disgusted than I was...

The kids asked if we could go on Dr. Phil.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 6:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry if I appeared to be laughing at your expense - but that is hilarious!!!! Of course, it is hilarious to me because I didn't live it!!! I keep thinking of the sculpture Marie made on Everybody Loves Raymond.

Oh dear - I think I might have kept the book and used it in one of those surprise santa things!!!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 9:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 9:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, I didn't want porn in my house- too many kids around.

And after I got over the initial shock, yes, of course it was hilarious. It makes great dinner conversation with friends when we go around the table and tell our best/worst. Everyone howls.

I remember Marie's sculpture!!!! Of course, DH had to explain it to me...

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 10:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I remember Marie's sculpture!!!! Of course, DH had to explain it to me..."

Okay, now I am howling and it wasn't tea this time it was a bud light I just spit out!!!

Forgot to ask, was it a german cookbook?

ok - goodnight to me I am delirious from my niece's 2 1/2 hour holiday pagent this evening.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 11:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

pecanpie-- we're not laughing AT you, sweetie-- we're laughing WITH you!! LMAO

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 7:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Heavens- no offense taken.

And no, Maggie- not German!!!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 2:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Pecanpie, what happened at Christmas?

I had your situation on my mind when our family all did Christmas. My mother's been so sick and couldn't shop. She and Dad did cash in give envelopes. They gave each couple their own envelope with $100 and all children 12 and older got $50. The younger two kiddos (2 & 4) she asked my SIL to pick up what she wanted them to have and wrap it and she'd pay for it, which Mom did.

Now, get this, my DH is a BIG KID at Christmas. He did a little shopping with me this year. Normally, he asks my daughter what I want. This year, he didn't. I kid you not, he stopped off at some fly by night book discount store and bought me two insignificant books that he thought would spiritually please me. One was a CHILD's book! He didn't even notice.

I cannot tell you how heartbroken being ignored hit me this year. He's not a very thoughtful giver and there IS no excuse for this. He claims he thought I would like the books. Right. Was he 'mad' at me about this kitchen still not being done? Yes. Is he resentful and spiteful? Yes. Christmas turns out to be a "rewards" event for those that have done good thoughout the year. I kid you not.

I will say this: he is making ammends. I'm not getting mad, he's just going to not ever let this happen again. I won't let it happen. You'd think after 15 years I would have 'known' how he'd be about all of this.

Sorry for the hijack. I hope your New Year is great!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2005 at 11:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, the kids loaded up DH with all sorts of wonderful things functional and fun (their ideas are SO much better than mine!) and my parents' downsized gift-giving didn't seem to be noticed. At least DH didn't say anything.

Sheri, I had a similar situation early in our marriage where DH gave me a sweater upon returning from a ski trip in early December, and had literally NO gift for me on Christmas. I was devestated and furious and he was flummoxed- he had told me it was an 'early Christmas present' and thought that explained everything. My BF called him up before the day was over and ripped him a new one! She said that it was important for our children to see him happily give gifts to his wife, that it was one of the responsibilities of marriage and parenthood, to have children see their parents cherish each other in many ways- spiritually, emotionally, physically, and with a generous heart, etc. She also told him there were plenty of men in the world who would be GLAD to shower me with gifts (I believe her hypoerbole was taken as gospel only because of the heat of the moment...hahaha.) It really hit home with him and he's been a changed man ever since.

I'm not one for poking my nose into other people's business, but I'm really glad my BF spoke up for me.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 1:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think it's not worth the emotional pain to get upset over the type of gift someone gives you. Maybe it's petty, but I simply give gifts of similar value and thoughtfulness to the ones I tend to receive. I know one of my DS always gives thoughtful gifts despite her limited budget, so I actually buy her pretty nice stuff that costs significantly more than she usually spends on my gifts. My parents hit a low point with DW one year when they gave her underwear. 3-to-a-pack Walmart underwear, mind you, not something nice. That was just the last straw in a steady downward spiral. Now rather than spending a few hundred on my parents I just grab whatever's on super-low clearance discount. The money saved gets spent on DW, so things even out nicely in my mind.

I have another sibling who seems to give me and DW whatever's laying around his house, wrapped up in a gift basket and presented as a "family gift", LOL. I also used to give him and his DW very nice, carefully thought-out stuff, but now he and his DW also get stuff from the "final clearance" table. I was joking with DW that when his package to us arrives this year we should just donate it to the needy without bothering to open it.

Anyway, my point is that the disparity in either thoughtfulness or price can lead to resentment when it comes to gifts. It defeats the purpose to try to get the other party to step up to your level, so downgrade at your end and reset your expectations.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 2:03PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Lumber Liquidators Exposé on 60 Minutes
Did anyone see the 60 Minutes Exposé on Lumber Liquidators...
The Kitchen Place
Dishwasher in white, black or panel??
My 17 year old dishwasher needs to be replaced. It...
Those tall coil spring type faucets: Hard to clean?
Like this: (How...
White Kitchens & Two Tone Kitchens?
Even though I know I sound very indecisive (sorry),...
Would soapstone work for me?
I currently have Cambria quartz and like it, but don't...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™