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Doing away with Christmas presents

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Old 10-09-2009, 08:00 AM   #1
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Default Doing away with Christmas presents

I`d appreciate some independent opinions on this sensitive topic.

Since years, I would like to abolish presents to my dad and wife. I`ve mentioned it a few times, but my suggestion was rejected and I did not put my foot down.

The reason for my unwillingness to make presents is the following:

Since I did not like one particular present (and dared to say so, hoping to get offered an exchange of the piece of jewellery), I get money. I now live in a different country and no longer come, as at the beginning, to visit every Christmas.

Since I am no longer there, I get my Christmas money late, sometimes in summer, sometimes in autumn. Awkwardly, a note is pulled out of one`s purse and handed over: "Here, for last Christmas."

I continue to punctually send a rapped present, as it is expected. I eventually said that I am not happy because it`s unfair. I even gave an ultimatum: I either get what I`m expected to give (a wrapped present, punctual) or I also stop sending things.

Since then, I get something, but it is very obvious that no thought is put into it. The presents I got since included: 2 videos (excellent, these were the two first presents), a cheap perfume (which I use as an air freshener for the bathroom, because that`s what it smells like), a scarf (which made a whole load of washing turn grey), a home-burnt CD (with music which they know I dislike), shower gel and candles.

I just no longer want to make the effort - but how do I convey this to the family *and* stick to my guns?
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Old 10-09-2009, 08:41 AM   #2
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First of all, I am sorry that you are not treated fairly.

Let me say I grew up with Christmas all of my life..... and I raised my kids that way too. In the past two years..... I have not put a up a tree, but I have continued to give gifts..... but my gut tells me that the "world" has commercialized it so much..... it is not what it once was. I know this is a very sensitive subject..... but here goes. Ya know..... my gut tells me to just treat it like every other day except in my home. What I mean is.... Christmas Day should be a time for family and togetherness. Yes, presents are good.... but why go out and max all of your cards for something that the person may not like or you cannot afford?

The reason I said that..... is if you feel like giving is a "chore" and your family does not think more of you to at least send you money on time.... then maybe you all should forego "formality" and just exchange a Merry Christmas and be done with it. Christmas time was not meant to be stressful, nor was it meant to be a burden..... which it has turned out to be for a lot and it seems like you are in this "formality" too. Ya know..... changing our lives with our eating and exercising patterns are enough to conquer..... why add unwanted Christmas stress too?

Just my thought. Keep us posted as to how it turns out.
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:25 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by ladyrider72472 View Post

The reason I said that..... is if you feel like giving is a "chore" and your family does not think more of you to at least send you money on time.... then maybe you all should forego "formality" and just exchange a Merry Christmas and be done with it. Christmas time was not meant to be stressful, nor was it meant to be a burden..... which it has turned out to be for a lot and it seems like you are in this "formality" too. Ya know..... changing our lives with our eating and exercising patterns are enough to conquer..... why add unwanted Christmas stress too?
Yes, all those are the issues for me.

I feel the stress is not worth it - they obviously do not stress about my gifts, but the "joy" they give me are not worth the (little) money which is spent on them.

I`ve downscaled, too, and the recipients are no lnoger as enthusiastic as they used to be when I spent more. So even though I continue to look for what the person would really enjoy, it`s probably not appreciated either.

In the end, I stress and both parties end up being disappointed with each other. Moreso, I see an increasing danger of gifts being used to retaliate for each others` perceived lack of care and love.

But I cannot bring myself to say it. I`m at a loss. I just don`t know how to tackle this sensitive subject without ending up justifying and definding my decision.
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:43 AM   #4
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I can really relate becuase I find Christmas to be stressfull and expensive as well, and I wonder--why? My guess is that everyone else feels the same way, so why do we all feel the pressure to go out and spend a bunch of money that we don't have to buy things for people who don't need/want stuff?

I'm guessing that at least part of your family members may be relieved when you say that you are opting out of the big gift exchange. Maybe you could say something like, "We're going to keep observing birthdays, but we are going to be opting out of exchanging gifts this year for Christmas. Thanks for understanding! ". If they press for a reason, say, "it's a decision that we made; we are trying to simplify our lives." Something like that. Trust me, they will probably be relieved.

We go through this in my family. I have one sister who is really, really poor. It's a hardship for her to just get gifts for her son, let alone all her family so last year was the first year that we stopped doing the gift exchanges. Thank goodness, because I really felt I was spending time and money buying stuff (junk?) for people who didn't want it, and they were having to do the same for me! It's really silly when you think about it.
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:47 AM   #5
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I agree Windchime. It is silly...... and it has turned into such a "man made" holiday! It is just a reason for us to spend money!
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:54 AM   #6
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Do you talk by phone? You could try asking if there's anything they particularly want and then tell them what you would like. There's no surprise but at least your both happy.

If you don't mind me asking, are your relatives struggling with money? The presents your getting could be construed as either the best we can afford/we couldn't afford one so we made you a present OR not really thinking about what you would like.

Other than that, as far as I see it you have two options:

1 - Stand up for what you want and tell them no more presents (if it were me I think up lots of reasons unrelated to them like postal prices as an excuse but it's all personal to you at the end of the day).

2 - Take the moral high ground of taking comfort in sending nice gifts you know they will like and let their conciseness dictate what they should give.
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:54 AM   #7
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My attitude is somewhat different. When you demand what you want and how and when it should be sent seems very selfish to me. If I were sending a gift to someone with those demands I would be very hurt. Gifts should not have strings attached. If I receive something I don't like I try to exchange it, if it can't be exchanged I give it to someone else. In my family we only give to immediate family, parents. siblings and kids. THe kids get a wish list with several ideas.They know these are only suggestions and that they may not get everything. If Christmas giving is so unpleasant for you. you can just stop participating.
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:56 AM   #8
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@ Windchime: Thank you for your wonderful words!

This is a wonderful way to convey my decision to my family, because it makes it sound like it`s about me/us and not about him and his gifts. I indeed feel that with the budget we have for each other (used to be higher) you cannot buy anything useful, just junk.

My biggest problem is to avoid insulting his gifts (and give them the opportunity to turn it all round and call me ungrateful) and have him take it personally.

Part of me wants him to know what the reason is, but the other part wants to avoid the confornmtation over a subject which is so sensitive.

I also like the "Thanks for understanding" which concludes the discussion (or m akes it clear that ther eis no scope for one) and helps me to avoid justifying and defending my decision (dangerous!). I need him to know that I mean it for this to work.
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:57 AM   #9
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We started "no gifting" a few years ago except for those under 15. Christmas is still celebrated but now in a more meaningful way. We spend the day together enjoying each others' company. We share a meal (too much of a meal) and the leftovers make "TV dinners" for my elderly parents - yes, it is a gift but one that feels good. The stress is gone and we've learned that we feel better about it - the first year was certainly a test though.
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:58 AM   #10
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I despise the commercial and formal aspect of Christmas. We give gifts but smaller than most. We do, as a family, enjoy putting up our tree and putting a few lights on the house. It makes me sick when I see the hired crews in my neighborhood decorating peoples homes for Christmas. It seems to take away from the holiday and for me and represents everything I hate about the season.

That being said, I am all about the festivities. Me and my kids decorate gingerbread men and women and string popcorn. We also go to Christmas concerts, see the local production of the Nutcraker and things like that. For us, that's what Christmas is about.

If you truly don't want to bothered with gifts, make your feelings known and be done with it. You could even preface it by saying, "the best gift you can send to me is no gift and I sincerely mean that." Send a nice card and know you did your part. I'm sorry you are feeling so flustered with this and I am sorry you aren't being treated fairly.
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Old 10-09-2009, 10:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyrider72472 View Post
Ya know..... my gut tells me to just treat it like every other day except in my home. What I mean is.... Christmas Day should be a time for family and togetherness.

The reason I said that..... is if you feel like giving is a "chore" and your family does not think more of you to at least send you money on time.... then maybe you all should forego "formality" and just exchange a Merry Christmas and be done with it. Christmas time was not meant to be stressful, nor was it meant to be a burden..... which it has turned out to be for a lot and it seems like you are in this "formality" too.
.

SOOOOOOO TRUE!!!
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Old 10-09-2009, 10:02 AM   #12
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@ Jellybean:

I have asked him what he wanted one year (that was while he still gave money, late), and he replied that Christmas is about thinking each other, and if he tells me what he`d like I no longer need to do that. That was when I said, but you don`t think of me either by giving money.

He does not struggle with money, quite the opposite. I cannot however get the thought out of my head that he is punishing me, for moving abroad, for not giving him grandchildren, for not visiting more often. He`s doing great financially and likes to rub that in, but he also makes it very clear that all that is for himself to enjoy and not us (not even after his passing away).

My husband is rooting for the same "moral high ground" which you suggest, and although I have been adhering to this it keeps getting more difficult year by year.
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Old 10-09-2009, 10:08 AM   #13
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@ Bargoo:

I agree, in general, but I no longer could stand the unfairness of it all.

One day, I asked him what he would like and he replied: "I`m not telling you. It defies the purpose of Christmas. Christmas is about thinking of the other person and what he would like. If I tell you waht I want hyou no longer need to do that, so I won`t. You always have good idea, so go and think!"

This made me so angry, and I said, but you don`t think about me either, you just give money and you don`t even bother sending it on time. I was horrified when it transpired that he found nothing wrong with the way things are, and that`s when I said, right, let`s do away with Christmas altogether.

He said he was not prepared to, so that`s when I said, fine, but then you can start thinking about me, too. You like to have something under your tree, but so do I! And then I said if you want to continue to receive, start to give in the same way, otherwise, I start to do the same as you - give you a voucher when I come in summer.
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Old 10-09-2009, 10:28 AM   #14
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Stella -- I can completely relate to your post. My father and step-mother would always just send me a check for my birthday and Christmas. While in contrast I would take the time to shop for a thoughtful present for each of them, wrap it, ship it or bring it with me when visiting. I got them gifts for Christmas, their birthdays, Mother's Day and Father's Day, so six gifts a year. One year my father even "forgot" my birthday.

My approach was to just keep giving them gifts, but it was definitely hurtful to have familiy who was not caring. Unfortunately as they say we don't get to choose our families. Just wanted to let you know, you are not alone, other people have these issues too. Good luck with whatever you decide.
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Old 10-09-2009, 10:30 AM   #15
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I personally don't care much for giving gifts at a particular time of the year. Quite a few years ago, my larger family (aunts/uncles/cousins/parents) decided that only children would get gifts and they would draw names and give a gift to just 1 adult. That worked for many years until someone took advantage and decided they didn't want to give a gift, just receive one (and also, you could opt out of the gift giving, so it wasn't like you were obligated). So now they don't exchange gifts among the adults, just the kids. For a while, I still gave presents to my parents and they still gave me a present. Then we agreed that wasn't necessary, besides the fact that I visit almost every christmas (and spend $600+ to do so).

I may enjoy giving gifts but I don't like the stresses of having to give and find something at a particular time of year. If I happen to see something my mom would like, I may buy it for her, no matter what time of year. She does the same for me.
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