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to be miffed re: family presents for children

38 replies

endymion · 04/05/2011 11:09

Name changer because includes financial stuff. Red rug, pouch of douglas, Judge Flounce and so on....

DH has two brothers. Each married with kids. SIL1 has three children aged 16 and over. SIL2 has 2 children under 10. DH and I have three children under 8.

PILs are fantastically generous and as a way of sharing assets/inheritance tax issues they passed a substantial sum of money to the three brothers. And paid off mortgages. This is context - that money not especially tight.

Got text from SIL today to say from now on she and DH's brother (so yes, agree he is part and parcel of the request, just he is being more low profile) would like not to give any adults and children christmas and birthday presents. Wants to do cards only. 2 of her children have 18 and 21st birthdays coming up next year.

I am really rather taken aback because

  • it feels a little as if we have bought presents very happily for all 3 of her kids for the last 20 years (in respect of eldest at least) and now none of the younger cousins will have presents at Christmas or birthdays from that branch of the family.
  • this follows DH being told by his mother that he'd forgotten eldest niece's birthday last month - present was 2 days late because waiting on delivery. Message passed to DH via MIL.
  • is hard to explain to dcs that "look at the lovely card from Uncle X and Aunt Y, isn't it nice that we don't buy them presents and they don't buy us presents any more". They won't really 'get' it.
  • we had an unspoken limit of about £15 per child. Not especially extravagant. So given that we know they were given a very very large amount of money and have no mortgage, I fail to see how stopping buying all the younger nieces and nephews presents is going to make a dent in their budget.

Incidentally I come from a family where once you hit 21, that's it for sibling presents. I don't buy my brothers presents and vice versa. So have no issue at all with no present swapping between adults.

DH and I just feel a bit put out (incidentally, so does dh's other brother). It also follows DH checking whether we were sharing easter eggs with each others children, to be told yes - so we bought their teenage dcs one each, and none have come back in return. Our dcs have not noticed and am not bothered but is the principle.

So AWBU to be miffed? Not massively - just in a "the cheek of it" kind of way????
OP posts:

everyspring · 04/05/2011 11:12

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Message withdrawn at poster's request.

everyspring · 04/05/2011 11:13

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Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Dropdeadfred · 04/05/2011 11:15

have you replied to her text?
I would reply and say 'oh gosh, are you having finacial difficulties..anything we can do?'


LadyWord · 04/05/2011 11:18

Well, I can understand her POV, and if your DC are under 8, surely thy won't notice if you don't point it out? I mean they will still have a good few presents anyway, presumably.

It might not just be money - it might be the utter pain in the arse of thinking up presents all the time, obtaining them, wrapping them, making sure you haven't got them the same thing twise, etc etc and all for kids who have more than enough as it is.

But, you could just reply honestly - as she has taken the step of bringing it up in a very open and straightforward way, that should be OK. Eg you could say you agree for adults, but the DC will be disappointed so could you maybe carry on with small presents for them perhaps with a limit of £5, etc.


porcamiseria · 04/05/2011 11:20

LOVE everyspings idea!!!! and dont get them presents, simple. end of story

i sometimes hate the ongoing shite of gift buying and gift thanking, so see her point. but make it clear thats its a two way street


Dropdeadfred · 04/05/2011 11:20

Ladyword - but I presume the SIL has not ever suggested that her relatives should avoid all that pain in the arse buying and wrapping whilst HER children were small? No - it would appear this has only come about as her dc's reach adulthood Hmm


MortenHasNiceShirts · 04/05/2011 11:22

So basically now her children have had all their childhood presents, she wants to stop doing presents so she doesn't have to get any for yours? How rude.


pluPassionatelyHatingAntiAV · 04/05/2011 11:22

It's a shame your DC will miss out on something their DC got, but if they are having financial problems, there's not a lot you can do, sorry!


LadyWord · 04/05/2011 11:23

Yes so hence the OP suggesting they carry on for the kids - then the SIL will "catch up" as it were.

But really, if this was offered to me on a plate I'd snap it up! I wouldn't worry about how much each person's gifts have added up to over the years and whether it's even (what about people who don't have kids - they don't get payback do they?) I'd just be grateful to reduce the spending and waste.


endymion · 04/05/2011 11:23

Ladyword - that was exactly what I was thinking as a response. I absolutely agree with grown up presents. They have money, they know what they want. They can buy it.

But the dcs - realistically I know that they won't feel left out or lacking in any way. But the principle ... I am more uncomfortable with. Replacing a 2 year olds present with a card - well of course I know that said 2 year old won't notice. But equally said 2 year old cannot read and won't appreciate a card as much as he would a plastic car or a book.

It just seems a bit rich to change the goalposts now your own children are reaching adulthood - and also downgrades a present from a token/something that you think a child might like to its' basic monetary value.

Ho hum. Will ponder some more....

OP posts:

BranchingOut · 04/05/2011 11:23

In fairness, if she was being that awful she would have waited until after her children's big birthdays and then called a halt to the present giving.

There are lots of good reasons why she may feel that it is time to scale back present giving - looking at the money involved for everyone, the time spent shopping for the gifts, the environmental waste of what are often fairly 'disposable' goods...

I have two sisters and several years ago we stopped buying Christmas and birthday presents for each other, but just buy for children. Makes life so much simpler.

This is a dialogue. You don't have to completely agree with her - reply and suggest a compromise. It is fair enough to suggest that your children are still small so would still enjoy a present or two.

How about, no presents for adults and children's presents only on birthdays?


Portofino · 04/05/2011 11:23

I would just tell her - bluntly- that of course it is up to her, but that as you have been buying pressies for her kids for years, doesn't it strike her as unfair to stop now....


LadyWord · 04/05/2011 11:24

Disclaimer - I realise presents are really important to some people. but I think they cause huge amounts of grief and hassle and present-giving has become way too important in our culture.


pirateparty · 04/05/2011 11:25

Are you sure she didn't mean to stop when the children get to 18? Otherwise does seem a bit mean tbh and I would be peeved too. Could you point it out to her? Although if it was me I'd probably just rant about it to my dh for a while and then ignore it and decide it's not worth falling out over - which I get the impression is how you feel too?


gawdblimey · 04/05/2011 11:26

we dont buy for adults in our family just kids under 10


endymion · 04/05/2011 11:28

Thanks for all responses by the way!

Also - they are definitely not in financial difficulties. Or would be staggered if they were. DN1 got a brand new mini for her birthday last year.

DHs parents were very very generous. And still pay all the dns' school/uni fees.

Actually dh wondered whether he should mention to his mum. I said no way - would be sneaking and also would HATE for her to be worried that they're struggling financially when they absolutely ought not to be.

OP posts:

Dropdeadfred · 04/05/2011 11:29

have you replied to her text? what did you say?


endymion · 04/05/2011 11:32

pirateparty - you read me like a book. :) Am very non-confrontational and ranting has been therapeutic. But I'm also liking eversprings idea re: deliberate misunderstanding. Grin

Not sure though if is worth the hassle, though is a shame to have a sour note/elephant in the room that tends to happen if you (I) bottle things up.

OP posts:

AppleyEverAfter · 04/05/2011 11:33

Bloody hell what a rotten cow! Sorry but IMO my neices and nephews should defo get presents until they're 21 at least! Even just a £5 box of chocs or a book or something!

My DH has a large extended family and we buy gifts for his grown-up cousins and their kids and partners too, which is getting a bit ridiculous but I literally spend a fiver on them and send a card. Will prob stop this when the kids all get to 18 and I have been considering asking the adults if we can just do the kids from now one, which I'm sure they won't mind. Only problem is, one cousin is early 20s and has no kids so she won't get anything, yet may be expected to get the kids something.

But DH's family are totally gift and card-mad. He still gets an easter egg from his aunt and he's 27 Confused.

On my side of the family we do immediate family, nieces/nephews and godchildren. And a few selected mates!

I suppose it's just each to their own but I think she's got a cheek if her kids have been getting gifts for 20 years!


endymion · 04/05/2011 11:33

No I haven't replied yet. Was sent as a group text to me and DH and SIL2 and BIL2. Think may chat with dh later and get him to send something back.

OP posts:

redskyatnight · 04/05/2011 11:35

How close are you all? I reguarly buy presents for all of my nieces and nephews but as I only see them once a year I never have any clue what to get them. It feels a bit like buying "something" just for the sake of it. Equally my siblings have no clue what to buy my children and the children (whilst glad to get a present) don't really understand who it is from. Actually I've felt like saying that perhaps we shouldn't bother in the future, but after your post (my DC are the oldest) thinking perhaps I shouldn't.


cookcleanerchaufferetc · 04/05/2011 11:36

I thi you should send an email like every spring suggested ... Go on, do it now!


titchy · 04/05/2011 11:40

Can't you just text and say you entirely agree that adults shouldn't get presents, and once children have reached adulthood that includes them, but say your happy for 20yo to be the cutoff, adn therefore you will buy for your younger neices next year if that's OK.


Dropdeadfred · 04/05/2011 11:44

or go back to the art of good conversation and just ask your dh to phone his bro later and ascertain what this is all about?


thetideishigh · 04/05/2011 11:50

Perhaps you should go further and say that whilst your young dc are still excited to get a little something present wise from their aunt & uncle you soooo agree that it is more difficult to buy something useful/appropriate with the token amount of £15 once they get to 18 or so and are in agreement that presents will stop at 18.

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