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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).

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.

Birdsgottafly Mon 13-Jan-14 19:03:03

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!

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