To persist in buying my Uncle a Christmas gift after this 'thankyou' card?

(76 Posts)
MerryMarigold Mon 13-Jan-14 14:07:54

So, every year I buy my Uncle, Aunt and 2 cousins a Christmas gift. They live a long way away and we rarely see each other, but it is a way of remembering them and choosing something I think they will like. For the past few years, only one of my cousins has reciprocated in the gift giving. It really doesn't bother me - as for me it is genuinely about giving a little thing for Christmas. My Uncle and Aunt were generous growing up and in fact until my Grandmother died a couple of years ago, and my Aunt still sends birthday gifts for all my kids.

My Uncle got remarried a few years ago, so his gift is joint with his new wife. Last year I got a board game (she has children who are grown up but without kids who all come for Christmas) and this year some fun and unusual chocolates. I got a 'thankyou' card from the new wife which basically said, "Thanks for the present but perhaps next year a card would be fine." Now, I don't know whether to get my Uncle a present next year.

I'm not sure if she is genuinely trying to be nice and to stop the trouble for me, of if she feels guilty they don't send one for our family, or just that Christmas is over commercialised and why am I sending something when I never see them, and it's not something they want anyway? I feel like I want to send something, not that I am obligated in any way, and I enjoy doing it. But if someone doesn't want to receive it defeats the object, really. I do it for the rest of the family and just because Uncle is remarried, why should I leave him out? (Also, letter was from her, not him). Plus, a tiny, rebellious part of me thinks, "Who are you to tell me who to buy a present for or not?".

So should I leave him out next year or persist? Or send one to him without her name on it? (That would be mean though, wouldn't it).

gamerchick Mon 13-Jan-14 14:09:39

Just send one for him. I don't see why you should stop on her say so.

It's still entirely up to you.

Do what you want, and don't bother trying to interpret a comment - it could mean anything.

2014newme Mon 13-Jan-14 14:10:09

Leave him out, they clearly are not bothered about the present, send a lovely card and letter instead.

Choccybaby Mon 13-Jan-14 14:13:36

What about buying one of the charity gifts where you get a card saying you got someone a goat or something in their name? Would that be a compromise you'd be happy with ?

LittleprincessinGOLDrocks Mon 13-Jan-14 14:19:06

I think she is probably trying to save you cost and hassle. She may well not want to start buying for you (through choice or through money issues), and whilst you are ok with not getting a gift, she may feel guilty about getting something but not sending something.
Or she may well just be being polite, like a "Oh you shouldn't have" kind of comment.
If you want to keep buying something for them do.

MerryMarigold Mon 13-Jan-14 14:29:38

Choccy, I thought about the charity gift, but for me it's about thinking of them even if it is for a short while to browse the internet! The 'hassle' and thought is what makes it personal. Laurie, you're right about not bothering to interpret the comment, and do what I want. I am struggling to know what I want though because if it is unwanted, then there isn't much point in sending and therefore I don't want to do it. Also, it feels disrespectful if someone has basically asked you not to.

Teeb Mon 13-Jan-14 14:32:38

Oh god, I've been trying to drop hints at extended family for years to knock the gift buying on the head. These days it is very rarely a nice thought, simply heaps guilt on people that they haven't reciprocated or they end up stretching their finances buying for people they don't even know anymore.

JeanSeberg Mon 13-Jan-14 14:33:04

I can see her point. I have told a friend that I want to stop buying for each other's kids at Christmas (all over 18) but she insists on buying mine something so feel I have to return the favour. I'd much rather she stuck to what I've requested.

MerryMarigold Mon 13-Jan-14 14:45:07

Good to hear the other point of view. In our case, though, I only have 1 Uncle and Aunt so it's not a huge, extended family. I think it's a bit sad I get my friend from the school run something but not my own Uncle. Yes, it's a different relationship because we spend a lot of time together, but she is not my family.

JeanSeberg Mon 13-Jan-14 14:48:38

Stick to birthdays only and spend a bit extra then with a nice card/photos for Christmas.

MerryMarigold Mon 13-Jan-14 14:53:49

I've never done birthdays and hadn't received for a long time on birthdays, but we all did Christmas till fairly recently.

Holdthepage Mon 13-Jan-14 14:54:20

I don't think she could be any clearer, they don't want a gift from you. I think you should respect their wishes.

AdoraBell Mon 13-Jan-14 15:00:55

I'm not so sure about "they" are clearly not bothered. It could easily be that the new DW isn't bothered. Not that I'm saying she's some kind of evil stepmother, could just be like Teeb, and mesmile.

Also, some men are happy to leave the card sending to a woman because, well that's our job isn't it?

So don't read too much into the card not being written by your uncle. My Dh's family just don't receive cards or gifts because I refuse to be his bloody secretary, but some women are happy to buy, write and send all the cards etc.

Avalon Mon 13-Jan-14 15:01:18

Why not ring your uncle and ask?

JeanSeberg Mon 13-Jan-14 15:21:07

YABU to be asking about Christmas in January.

longingforsomesleep Mon 13-Jan-14 15:44:31

Well..... DH's family have relatives (DH's cousins) in Australia. We have never met them but they insist in sending us little gifts each Christmas. It's a nice gesture of course but it always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable as we never reciprocate and I'm just not prepared to get into present buying for people I don't know. They always get a little something for my (teenage) kids - but they always get opened and put to one side. And they always send me and DH an Australian calendar - which never gets used either as we always end up with one or two (much nicer!) calendars.

I'm being mean I know but we never communicate with them so I don't know how to tell them to stop!

I'd just stop if I were you!

Why don't you speak to your uncle and explain how YOU feel and ask HIS thoughts? If it's a new(ish) relationship she may be thinking "I can't be doing with buying for a load of people I don't know", she MAY be trying to save you hassle and trouble (from where she's standing) without understanding that you enjoy it, she may even be (I doubt it, but possible) trying to drive a wedge between him and his family, you'll never know if you don't ask.

WhenWhyWhere Mon 13-Jan-14 15:53:28

I think you should read the note for what it is. A simple, polite request to stop buying presents for them. There is no need to overthink this. Send them a lovely card next year.

MerryMarigold Mon 13-Jan-14 16:40:43

Longingforsomesleep, well here's your solution, the simple polite request in the form of a thank you note!

Jean, asking in Jan cos I just got the card. But I get where you're coming from grin.

Interesting to hear others' takes on this. I found it a bit rude and overly 'hinting without saying.

Breadkneadslove Mon 13-Jan-14 17:04:16

I think she is giving you an 'out' should you choose to take it, I don't read her note to be rude or saying that the gifts aren't wanted. However you have expressed your genuine pleasure in buying a gift and sending it so I think you should continue to do so. I would send a card along with the gift next Christmas explaining that you enjoy and want to send them/ your uncle a gift and will continue to do so but in no way should they feel as though they should reciprocate. I wouldn't read anything into the fact that it was your uncles wife that has written, I would assume that the message was jointly their thoughts but like most couples I know it is the woman who writes the cards!

Bootycall Mon 13-Jan-14 17:10:41

god I wish I had the gumption to do this to my extended family. we have sacked back in the present giving as it got out if hand, big family, but they still buy fur us and it's very very uncomfortable to be honest.

buying presents fir people isn't about you enjoying sending them it's whether her the present is wanted in the first place.

send a card and a letter.

ddubsgirl Mon 13-Jan-14 17:56:55

is the new wife diabetic? you said you brought unusual chocolates maybe they didnt like them?

Kundry Mon 13-Jan-14 18:14:30

What for you may be a pleasant experience thinking about them, for them may be them receiving what they view as pointless tat they regift.

DH's family are big into the gifts, he feels similar to you (or felt). But we now know at least one other sibling is wishing we could have a present list cull. And after receiving 2 massive mugs as presents this year, he realised what the gifts actually symbolize is his family know fuck all about us - if you spent 30 min with us you'd realise neither of us drink tea or coffee so have no need of mugs.

It isn't sad you spend more on someone on the school run - you have a live, meaningful relationship with them.

It's OK to say you don't mind them not giving you a gift, but that is quite pressurizing if they don't send one, they'll either feel guilty or obligated.

I think her note was a nice, polite way of broaching that you might want to switch to cards only, which many families do when the younger generation arrives and they focus on their own kids rather than members of the extended family they otherwise have little relationship with.

paxtecum Mon 13-Jan-14 18:22:49

They probably think they are being helpful by suggesting you stop buying them gift.
Saving you the hassle of choosing, wrapping and posting, as well as saving you money.

flowery Mon 13-Jan-14 18:28:12

Some people feel uncomfortable receiving gifts from people without reciprocating, or may even have been brought up to think it rude to do so. I expect they debated about whether it would be rude to politely suggest there was no need to continue buying for them or not, and decided it was ok to make that request. They'd obviously feel more comfortable not getting a gift rather than getting one and not reciprocating, so do as they ask.

MerryMarigold Mon 13-Jan-14 18:30:35

So basically what some of you are saying is: if you give someone a present and they don't give you one then you are making them feel guilty and pressurising them. hmm So we all have to bow to the 'no presents' --I just want to spend ridiculous amounts on my nuclear family - because the 'let's all have a little Christmas spirit' must always lose in this scenario.

flowery Mon 13-Jan-14 18:38:49

It's possible to have and show Christmas spirit without buying presents.

If you really don't want to not buy them something, why not ring and have a chat about it. Perhaps their reasons for the request will come up and you'll either find those reasons acceptable, or can reassure them that you must enjoy buying for them and really don't want or expect them to give anything in return.

BackforGood Mon 13-Jan-14 18:40:02

It seems fairly straightforward to me too - it's gently saying 'please don't spend time and money buying us a gift'.
Just send them a card and a chatty letter next year.
You can always take something along as and when you go to visit instead.

Kundry Mon 13-Jan-14 18:42:21

What is 'Christmas spirit' though? One person's Christmas spirit is another's pointless consumerist money transfer.

We genuinely have had 2 relatives give each other a £10 gift voucher. This did not feel very Christmas spirity and more like the worship of St John of Lewis.

Your uncle and his wife may have a totally different take on Christmas to you. You've had it your way up until now but they have never had it their way.

MerryMarigold Mon 13-Jan-14 18:54:46

As far as I was aware, we had it both our ways. They didn't get me something (their values) and I did get them something (my values). It feels like they are imposing their values on me.

Kundry Mon 13-Jan-14 18:56:10

Well given they don't want a gift, you were imposing your values on them.

BackforGood Mon 13-Jan-14 18:57:20

Well then, if you feel that strongly (an I'd guess you are in the minority as these aren't relatives you see regularly) just get them something.
She's offered you a suggestion of stopping, you don't like it, so keep doing what you were doing if it means that much to you.

I don't reciprocate presents, if I have asked to not be bought for. I re-gift things. This gets mixed reviews on here, but I don't want a house full of stuff that I don't love or need.

I would rather not give or receive gifts, but go out for a meal. We have started doing that in one circle of friends. Two of which couldn't afford to eat out and but presents, even token ones.

I have felt pissed off that even though I have made it clear I don't want cards, for environmental reasons, I have had both Christmas and New a Year cards.

Not everyone eats chocolate, or has others to pass them to. I hate the shops being full of cheap crap chocolate, the whole trade is unethical and exploitative.

I make the effort to have conversations, meals out and visit people, though.

Why not just phone your Uncle and ask him how he is and how his Christmas went and drop gift giving into the conversation?

WhenWhyWhere Mon 13-Jan-14 19:03:44

I wouldn't see it as them imposing their views on you, I see it as they don't want to receive gifts from you. That's all. confused It's a simple polite request. I would assume that itwas made with good intentions.

happyyonisleepyyoni Mon 13-Jan-14 19:06:54

What are "fun and unusual chocolates"? They weren't in rude shapes or anything were they?


justmyview Mon 13-Jan-14 19:22:37

Over the years we have stopped exchanging Christmas presents with various relatives. I'm still just as fond of them. I'd feel mean if I didn't buy a present for someone who bought a gift for me. I think you should stop giving Christmas presents. Maybe your thoughtful gifts, bought with good intentions, didn't quite hit the spot & they feel guilty that you're spending money on gifts that they don't use?

Charity gift would be good. How about a Kiva donation, chosen with your uncle's interests / circumstances in mind?

Or the occasional random "saw this book and thought of you" present, sent for no particular reason, just fondness for your uncle, but not sent at Christmas?

traininthedistance Mon 13-Jan-14 19:43:46

A family friend that I still buy for (and who used to buy for me and my sisters since we were little) sent a similar note one year to me - I wrote back to say I'd be happy to stop present-giving and I'd really valued the gifts she'd given me since I was a little girl (they were just a book each year but they introduced me to some wonderful writers I'd never have discovered on my own). Next year I assumed we weren't getting anything and the book still turned up - I had UK rush out and get something to give back!

Anyway, OP, I reckon that she just feels guilty and a bit socially awkward about it. I would just write her a note (either now, or leave it until next year), explaining that you know you don't have to buy something and she doesn't need to reciprocate but you really appreciated how generous your uncle had been to you as a child and you'd still like to continue to send a little something to them at Christmas as a token of your appreciation. And then send something a little smaller, a thoughtful but token (ten pounds?) gift.

Then everyone wins all round - they don't feel obligated and you still get to choose something quirky and nice. I should think it isn't actually your uncle (if he's been happy to receive stuff for years), but it might be that his new wife isn't really a Christmas person and feels differently or more awkwardly about the reciprocal nature of gifts.

2014newme Mon 13-Jan-14 21:17:21

Could they be diabetic or unable to eat chocolate for other reason

MerryMarigold Mon 13-Jan-14 21:18:28

Kundry, no, imposing my values on them would be a note to say, 'perhaps a small gift for us next year wouldn't go amiss!'

Thanks for comments and suggestions. I will cross this bridge in 11 months time....but will probably not bother with an unwanted gift and see if I can come up with something else (not a scrawled Christmas card with a couple of names at the bottom).

MerryMarigold Mon 13-Jan-14 21:20:22

They are not diabetic. They had eaten some of the choc. I suspect they feel a bit bad they don't reciprocate and would rather not feel bad.

Kundry Mon 13-Jan-14 22:19:11

Well the spirit of Christmas doesn't usually involve making people feel bad. And I would totally see you as imposing your values - you don't have a monopoly on deciding that, it's also the decision of the gift receiver.

Myself and other sibling who wants to give up don't feel bad, we just feel it's incredibly tedious and expensive (even the token gifts add up) and that relationships change - yes someone may be your cousin but if you wouldn't see them all year or even phone them, now is the time to stop buying each other presents.

They would probably be quite happy with a card. If you are going to write something more, just make sure it isn't in comedy Round Robin territory.

MerryMarigold Mon 13-Jan-14 22:21:14

I'm not making anyone feel bad. If they feel bad that's their problem and certainly not my intention. So, why is what they're doing not imposing their values on me?

HildaOgden Mon 13-Jan-14 23:14:25

They have politely asked you to stop sending presents,for whatever reason.So respect that.It's simple,really.

ImperialBlether Mon 13-Jan-14 23:31:46

Why don't you do something like buying a little toy and taking it to A&E and say "Please give this to a child coming in on Christmas Day"?

My son was in A&E on Christmas Day when he was 2 and this happened to us; for the next few years we took a toy in ready wrapped and it was a lovely thing to do, knowing someone would have a little unexpected gift.

At least you'd know someone enjoyed the present, unlike those two miseries and it is far more in the Christmas spirit.

ImperialBlether Mon 13-Jan-14 23:38:14

This does make me think of "I'm going to go out with him whether he likes it or not." OP, they are telling you they don't want presents, so save your money and just send a card.

MissDuke Mon 13-Jan-14 23:41:09

Why don't you visit instead of sending a gift? :-)

Kundry Mon 13-Jan-14 23:54:00

Imperial that's a completely lovely thing to do.

Caitlin17 Mon 13-Jan-14 23:56:05

You are imposing your values on them. And we had enough threads in December making clear one person's carefully chosen and thoughtful present was so wide of the mark the recipient is spitting tin tacks.

You might have taken the hint by the fact only one of them reciprocates. I really don't see how what you want to achieve, keeping in touch, can't be done by a pretty card and a chatty letter. I don't think the new wife's letter needs to be analysed beyond what it literally says.

Oh and to the posters on here who have called them miseries and ruining the Christmas spirit, what utter tosh.

JeanSeberg Tue 14-Jan-14 06:47:24

I loved the AIBU threads that go like this:

Everyone -Yes
OP - no I'm not!

LucyLasticBand Tue 14-Jan-14 07:02:11

just give a present for your uncle in future, after shave for ex.

This is what I call passive aggressive gifting, and it has nothing to do with "Christmas spirit" if the only contact one has with a person is thanking the postman for an unwanted gift .

Caitlin17 Tue 14-Jan-14 08:08:23

You sound obsessed. Only one of these people reciprocate. The letter you are fretting over was "only from her" so presumably your uncle hasn't even acknowledged the gift.

moldingsunbeams Tue 14-Jan-14 08:19:03

My mum asked for people to stop buying and they still do, she then finds the need to send one too and she cannot honestly afford to as if she buys for them she has to buy for loads of others too.

MerryMarigold Tue 14-Jan-14 09:44:25

I'm not obsessed, just stubborn and don't like being told my present was unwanted. Don't like to accept badly argued viewpoints but there have been some helpful posts. I have already said I will not be sending the gift next year and will figure out a way to maintain contact and thought and 'Christmas spirit' in a way that does not offend or irritate them. I truly doubt they will bother with anything more than a scrawled card (to me that's a waste of paper and postage and not really keeping in touch), but I can keep to my values and we're all happy.

MerryMarigold Tue 14-Jan-14 09:45:53

And no, I won't send a note saying I'd rather not have a card if it's not personal.

traininthedistance Tue 14-Jan-14 09:55:45

Well I didn't think you are U, OP. FFS, what is it with people saying sending a Christmas gift is the OP imposing her values on people and being passive aggressive? It's a Christmas present, for goodness' sake, not an act of aggression. On most mumsnet present threads people are popping up to say one should be grateful for any present at all as a gift is entirely at the discretion of the giver, and here people are saying the opposite. It is pretty rude to write a more suggesting a well-meant gift is unwanted!

traininthedistance Tue 14-Jan-14 09:56:14

*note not more

LittleBearPad Tue 14-Jan-14 10:02:18

I think your stubbornness may be clouding your decision. They've asked that you don't send them a present. To continue to do so isn't very Christmassy. Why don't you go and see them. That round be much better than an unwanted present.

MerryMarigold Tue 14-Jan-14 10:09:00

They live a very long way away and we have not been asked over! Now, I think it may be rude to invite ourselves. 3 young kids in a house which never entertains young kids, may be even less wanted than a Christmas present!!

AmberLeaf Tue 14-Jan-14 10:09:27

YANBU and I think what the wife said is rude. I would be offended at that no matter how hard I tried not to be!

MerryMarigold Tue 14-Jan-14 10:10:49

Thanks train. flowers. I had to ignore the passive aggressive comment as quint is usually an excellent poster and I rate her.

JustSpeakSense Tue 14-Jan-14 10:17:18

I think if they felt strongly enough to actually say it to you in the Thank you card then you really should just send them a christmas card next year. They don't want a gift - they've said so.

Avalon Tue 14-Jan-14 10:17:29

Ha ha op, I don't think your rebellious part is tiny at all! grin

It may be that your one-sided gift giving has irritated your uncle for years and his new wife has offered to send you a tactful note?

Has your uncle thanked you for previous gifts?

I think it's more likely that it was your aunt who was thoughtful and generous with gift giving and your uncle just doesn't care.

Gladvent Tue 14-Jan-14 10:25:06

Just invite them to you next year smile

MerryMarigold Tue 14-Jan-14 10:26:18

No, him and new wife sent for several years. Only stopped a couple of years ago. Have to admit I missed a year myself after having twins, but it wasn't a thought out plan.

MerryMarigold Tue 14-Jan-14 10:28:22

gladvent, good idea. It's a bit far for a day trip and they never want to stay over at my parents, but I will ask. Thank you.

MerryMarigold Tue 14-Jan-14 10:29:46

Avalon, yes I do really hate being told what to do!

MerryMarigold Tue 14-Jan-14 10:30:44

Avalon, yes I do really hate being told what to do!

MerryMarigold Tue 14-Jan-14 10:30:45

Avalon, yes I do really hate being told what to do!

Avalon Tue 14-Jan-14 10:30:48

Perhaps it's age then, Merry, or financial circumstances.

Avalon Tue 14-Jan-14 10:31:31

Hey, you feel strongly about that! wink

Vijac Tue 14-Jan-14 10:35:54

Gift giving is a reciprocal thing, whilst it is cloaked in not being one, the truth is that it is. Either an exchange, or a thank you for something. I guess it can also be an expression of love but I would say to those close to you. Your aunt feels uncomfortable receiving and not giving. She doesn't think the relationship is close enough to send a gift herself (some families don't even do gifts for adults at all). She is being nice and I would respect her wishes.

JustSpeakSense Tue 14-Jan-14 11:50:37

Yes, you definitely need to respect their wishes next christmas.

MerryMarigold Tue 14-Jan-14 12:31:35

I think the likelihood is that she is in charge of gifts and since she using grow up with us (we used to go on holidays etc, lots of fond memories) combined with not really knowing my kids, means she doesn't want to do presents. Which is totally fine. I don't think it has to be reciprocal and do it for all reasons listed above. She does think so and since she doesn't want to do it had asked me to stop. So I will. Unhappily.

MerryMarigold Tue 14-Jan-14 12:32:18

Since she didn't grow up with us, should have read first.

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