or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Multi-spinoff - Gifts, a sign our culture is "sick"?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Multi-spinoff - Gifts, a sign our culture is "sick"? - Page 8

post #141 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
I had like 4 paragraphs typed out, and to be honest, I don't think I could explain it if I tried. Suffice to say, I'm starting to wonder if a lot of the environmental and political concerns aren't thinly veiled control issues. And I say that as a person who came to MDC and fretted over my DD's first Christmas and how she was going to get buckets of plastic battery opperated crap. Once I stopped caring about the stuff and refocused on the people, and really sat back and gleaned a bit of perspective (about the fact that we HAD people willing to shower her with stuff), life became so much more pleasant.
So the fact that your personal issue was one of perspective/control means that all of these issues must be issues of perspective/control?
post #142 of 255
To go back to the original question and then pick up on a few things:

"So again, why? How did gifts and STUFF in general get so much power over us? Is it getting worse in the recent past (I seem to feel that way)? Or has it always been this way? Why is this so emotional? Does it seem silly and a little scary to anyone else that I am really not "allowed" to have any control over the messages and values my dd is getting from THINGS or the amount of STUFF that is in my living space?"

In my case I am fully aware that I have a lot of control over what stays in my home. I have no worries that what people give my child is going to warp him for life.

I don't try to control what people give. I consider having drama and arguments with relatives over gifts to be giving the gifts too much power, in the same way that I don't get into "gift wars" - we give according to our means and don't keep score.

If someone gives my son a macho toy, that's fine. We can give him a doll to go with it, if we feel the need. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt that they are acting in love and care. I recognize that not everyone is, but if they want to use gifts to send me nastygrams, that's their issue, not mine. In my experience most people are just doing the best they can.

If someone is a compulsive shopper, that's her issue. Truly.

I have no problem decluttering when we need to, although I do negotiate with my son. If I feel strongly about a toy being inappropriate or not having room for it, then I deal with it like any other item in my home. When he was given a video gaming system I wasn't thrilled about I unplugged it from the TV after a few days. It's truly not something I'm going to fret over.

I believe at heart that accepting people where they are is the first step to change.

Now there have been a few extreme cases posted here and if someone were making the holiday a completely miserable experience, I'd say "this is getting upsetting; we're stopping now." If it were carloads of stuff I'd make one run to Goodwill (and I have done this).

But I do not believe the way to raise kids that are non-materialistic is to have them live in an environment where I am stomping about before the holidays on my high horse upset about gifts or failing to be kind to gift-givers.
post #143 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
I had like 4 paragraphs typed out, and to be honest, I don't think I could explain it if I tried. Suffice to say, I'm starting to wonder if a lot of the environmental and political concerns aren't thinly veiled control issues. And I say that as a person who came to MDC and fretted over my DD's first Christmas and how she was going to get buckets of plastic battery opperated crap. Once I stopped caring about the stuff and refocused on the people, and really sat back and gleaned a bit of perspective (about the fact that we HAD people willing to shower her with stuff), life became so much more pleasant.
I agree, basically. It doesn't make it so for every single person who has a gift issue. Some people are passionate about political and environmental issues that I don't care about that deeply. But I think any time I have a "hot button" issue it helps to go beyond the surface and get down to the real issue.

For some it really is worrying about the landfill--for others it might be a cop out or a way to avoid dealing with their real issue.

For me, it's a lack of connection and not feeling heard or known by people in my own family.

And then the next step is to actually try to fix THAT relationship. The rest falls in line from there.

Your mileage may vary--there might be people out there with great familial relationships who are still beset by "gift sickness" but I know for me it's a symptom, not the real disease.
post #144 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~pi View Post
So the fact that your personal issue was one of perspective/control means that all of these issues must be issues of perspective/control?
They certainly don't appear to be about the environment or clutter, that's for sure!
post #145 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by madskye View Post
And then the next step is to actually try to fix THAT relationship. The rest falls in line from there.

Your mileage may vary--there might be people out there with great familial relationships who are still beset by "gift sickness" but I know for me it's a symptom, not the real disease.
This I absolutely believe to be true. But is that done through gifts? Even if you're hurt that you got a sized small blue sweater when you love red and are a large, is being hurt about the relationship going to be fixed by saying "you bought me the wrong thing"? That's my point. I don't disagree with the issues. I have them too. But using a person's generosity to address those issues feels really icky to me.
post #146 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
This I absolutely believe to be true. But is that done through gifts? Even if you're hurt that you got a sized small blue sweater when you love red and are a large, is being hurt about the relationship going to be fixed by saying "you bought me the wrong thing"? That's my point. I don't disagree with the issues. I have them too. But using a person's generosity to address those issues feels really icky to me.
What generosity? When someone knows I'm living in a small space (not super small, but fairly small for a family of six) and am trying to declutter, and that decluttering causes me stress (which it does), and they decide to shower me with a carload of stuff, it's not about generosity. Fortunately, I don't have to deal with this crap at the holidays, but I had an incident of this ilk two years ago, which included the person doing it saying, "I have some more stuff for you guys, but your mom's probably already mad at me - hahaha". Yeah. Funny.

Sure - I should have told her to quit and just accepted that my kids were going to be really upset, but I had no idea she was going to dump all that in my lap...and she knew I didn't want it, and was stressed about decluttering (I was very pregnant at the time and completely exhausted). So, she snuck it all in, and handed it all directly to my kids. That kind of behaviour isn't about generosity. It just isn't. (And, no - I never did address it. The woman in question is impossible to deal with, and cuts people off at the drop of a hat. While I'd happily have her out of my life, there are other people involved.)

And, yes - the issue was about clutter.


I would never say anything to someone who bought me a sweater in the "wrong" colour and wrong size. I'm not sure what I'd do if someone were consistently overloading my kids, but it would probably end up in a huge family blowout, because there's no way I'd sit back and let someone bully my child to tears to feed their own ego.
post #147 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
This I absolutely believe to be true. But is that done through gifts? Even if you're hurt that you got a sized small blue sweater when you love red and are a large, is being hurt about the relationship going to be fixed by saying "you bought me the wrong thing"? That's my point. I don't disagree with the issues. I have them too. But using a person's generosity to address those issues feels really icky to me.
Oh no, I don't mean that at all. I mean, for instance--I can only talk about me here, but I have issues with my mom. I don't generally like what she gifts to me or my daughte--but I think that's not the point. I think the point is that I need to work on my relationship with my mom all year round--that the holidays are a time of stress and it's easy to focus your resentment and issues on gift giving, but really--you need to care for your relationships all year round.

For all that I don't feel understood/listened to--maybe she doesn't, either. Maybe if I could get to a better relationship with her, we'd both be better able to receive the gifts in the spirit they are given. I wouldn't be (invisibly) rolling my eyeballs at the 7th sweater with a sequin reindeer she's given me in my life and she wouldn't (I suspect) think I was cheap because I just gave her a gift basket with wine, cookies, and a picture of DD when my sister gave her a new flat screen tv.

My point is that people have issues, but the gifts aren't the real issue at all.
post #148 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
My point is that people have issues, but the gifts aren't the real issue at all.
I agree mostly. Except that the US is still the largest consumer in the world. I imagine in other countries this same family dynamic might play out differently. How, I don't know.
post #149 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~pi View Post
You didn't answer my question: Do you think it would have been rude for your parent(s) to tell a relative, "Hey, JL83 already has lots of soccer, skiing and science stuff, but she would love a Barbie as a gift?"
No, I don't think that would have been rude.

I have no problem with suggesting ideas or even specific items for gifts. We just sent my BIL (childless and slightly clueless about gifts) with a very specific idea of a toy that DD played with at someone else's house and cried over when it was time to leave (and hasn't stopped talking about for 2 weeks). We made some suggestions to my in-laws that were more general because they wanted a direction to go in. And we asked my parents straight out if they would go in with us on DD's big gift this Christmas.

BUT... It doesn't matter what those people end up giving us, we will smile and say thank you and then enjoy the gifts however we can. If my BIL chooses not to buy the gift that would make him DD's "favorite person ever" and gets her something bizarre and random like he has in the past, it won't be a big deal. We would never mention it to him afterwards.

If my inlaws end up getting DD the large scale toy they e-mailed us about (which we said was way too big for our house), we'll figure out something.

The point is that we will assume the best of intentions about the gifts we are given. We will be thankful for them, and then get whatever use we can out of them. We will not just throw them out or give them away because they don't meet some predetermined value system we have. We won't sabotage them (by removing batteries). And we won't teach our child that she should appreciate gifts based on our value system rather than the spirit in which they were given.

I'm also not going to give gifts any power over me by spending any real time (online discussions aside) thinking about it.
post #150 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by madskye View Post
My point is that people have issues, but the gifts aren't the real issue at all.
I agree. Relationships being the biggest issue (that I've noticed anyway). I find it hard to believe that people who have a good relationship would undermine another person's beliefs (not only about gifts, but about parenting, and life style, etc).
post #151 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thalia the Muse View Post
I think there's a difference between "dismissive" and "clueless" -- especially for people who haven't a child that age for years or do not know you (the new daughter-in-law) well, it can be hard to figure out what to they might like, and they end up giving dishtowels to you and choking hazards. It doesn't sound like they are picking out "insult" gifts.

My in-laws gave some odd baby gifts, and now they just send cash. It's not because they are dismissive or don't love my daughter madly -- they just don't have any idea what she might like and aren't big gift people anyway.
With my grandparents - it is cluelessness - they are in their 80's, dont really know all the great grandkids and can easily buy a boatload of stuffed animals.

With my inlaws it was unfortunately dismissive. They insist on a list of specific items and general interests and then they give whatever they grab at the last minute. And it has always been very gender specific. For dh they even gave him stuff for their religion that he had left nearly a decade before. they are the type to be manipulative with gifts. It was sad and stressful and so we did away with gifts and life was nicer.
post #152 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
They certainly don't appear to be about the environment or clutter, that's for sure!
Again, so they must be about your issue? I'm really confused here as to what you are saying. Are you saying that you know what the issues are actually about based on reading a few posts?

Of course they can be about perspective, or control, or underlying relationship issues, or all of the above. Sometimes the gift issue is just the final straw. And I'm sure that some people have unreasonable expectations and/or are just looking for an excuse to criticize the relative in question.

However, outside of those, "Oh, that's easy, you just modify your expectations/change your perspective/give up control/fix your relationship," cases, there are genuine sticky situations that do not always have such a simple solution. (If only all of those solutions were actually simple! )

Quote:
Originally Posted by madskye View Post
Your mileage may vary--there might be people out there with great familial relationships who are still beset by "gift sickness" but I know for me it's a symptom, not the real disease.
Sure, but let's say that your kitchen is messy because of an underlying problem with responsibilities, perceptions of who does what, and expectations. Sometimes you can start the discussion about those issues in a better frame of mind when you first clean up the mess. Or to use a metaphor with the same words, pain can be a symptom of an underlying disease. In most cases, the best approach is to fix the symptom, and then go looking for the disease.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
I would never say anything to someone who bought me a sweater in the "wrong" colour and wrong size. I'm not sure what I'd do if someone were consistently overloading my kids, but it would probably end up in a huge family blowout, because there's no way I'd sit back and let someone bully my child to tears to feed their own ego.
post #153 of 255
I finally made it to the end of this thread... whew!

So, here are my thoughts on the whole topic of gift-giving: First, YES, we as Americans go overboard on gifts! (But don't Americans go overboard on everything? From Supersized meals to big SUVs? And yes, I know that's a very general Stereotype and not necessarily the case with most ppl on Mothering.com.)

Perhaps there is also a generational thing going on here too. My grandparents grew up in the Depression and didn't have anything. So when they were young parents they were very frugal. Now that they are older and have good retirement investment accounts and such they can buy presents for us and our children. And my parents are the same... buying all kinds of stuff for my kiddos because they grew up with very frugal parents.

As far as gift-giving etiquette goes... I did not have a problem sitting my parents down and having a discussion about gifts. They are my parents and I'm very close to them. So I felt it was okay to explain that my house is so terribly cluttered that it was giving me anxiety attacks. I seriously was having nightmares about the piles of toys and clutter falling over on me. (This was PPA also... and a psychologist helped quite a bit!) My first child's 2nd Christmas (her birthday is in Dec, so she was just over a year old) she got so many presents we had to take a 2nd trip to get the rest of them later. I didn't end up pulling all of the toys out of gift bags for about 3 months... because I just didn't want to try to figure out where to put all that stuff!

So, I set some appropriate 'rules' about gift-giving for my parents. I read a great idea that works for us - it's supposed to be based on a Victorian custom. It's 4 gifts - "Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read". That means Grandma can still get them each a toy and a new outfit. And I did tell her she's allowed to get as many books as she'd like because we love new books!

And we've also toned down Santa Claus at our house over the years... once upon a time I might've been just as bad at overbuying as my mom! So Santa brings 1 small gift for each child OR 1 joint gift for the 3 of them (last year it was the kitchen, year before it was an art easel) and fills their stockings with fun things. DH and I pick out a gift for each child and we help each child to get a gift for their siblings.

Really though, if someone gives one of the children a gift that I don't particularly care for or gives them a bunch of stuff... I let them play with it. We purge often and give to charity when we can. So hopefully we end up weeding out the stuff I don't like eventually!

-Beth
post #154 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by JL83 View Post
No, I don't think that would have been rude.

I have no problem with suggesting ideas or even specific items for gifts. We just sent my BIL (childless and slightly clueless about gifts) with a very specific idea of a toy that DD played with at someone else's house and cried over when it was time to leave (and hasn't stopped talking about for 2 weeks). We made some suggestions to my in-laws that were more general because they wanted a direction to go in. And we asked my parents straight out if they would go in with us on DD's big gift this Christmas.

BUT... It doesn't matter what those people end up giving us, we will smile and say thank you and then enjoy the gifts however we can. If my BIL chooses not to buy the gift that would make him DD's "favorite person ever" and gets her something bizarre and random like he has in the past, it won't be a big deal. We would never mention it to him afterwards.

If my inlaws end up getting DD the large scale toy they e-mailed us about (which we said was way too big for our house), we'll figure out something.

The point is that we will assume the best of intentions about the gifts we are given. We will be thankful for them, and then get whatever use we can out of them. We will not just throw them out or give them away because they don't meet some predetermined value system we have. We won't sabotage them (by removing batteries). And we won't teach our child that she should appreciate gifts based on our value system rather than the spirit in which they were given.
That's wonderful for you. Really.

Though I'm a little confused about how you reconcile that with your earlier statement about how it "sucked" that you didn't get more than one Barbie. Why wouldn't you just appreciate the gifts you got based on your value system? Or is this value system something that you have developed as an adult but have not yet not applied backwards to your childhood?

FWIW, we take the same approach: we are grateful for all gifts we receive. We just don't want to spend all day opening gifts. We would rather spend time with the people we love. I think that's a perfectly reasonable set of priorities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JL83 View Post
I'm also not going to give gifts any power over me by spending any real time (online discussions aside) thinking about it.
You have a way to make "fake time" that you then use for online discussions?!! That is AWESOME. Please, hook me up! Tell me your secret!!
post #155 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
I agree. Relationships being the biggest issue (that I've noticed anyway). I find it hard to believe that people who have a good relationship would undermine another person's beliefs (not only about gifts, but about parenting, and life style, etc).
Perhaps you have a much higher bar for what you consider a good relationship? I'm glad for you. I really am.

Some of us have weird histories with weird relatives. The fact that we have (had) issues over gifts doesn't mean that the relationship is bad.
post #156 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~pi View Post

However, outside of those, "Oh, that's easy, you just modify your expectations/change your perspective/give up control/fix your relationship," cases, there are genuine sticky situations that do not always have such a simple solution. (If only all of those solutions were actually simple!)
Seriously, no where in my post did I say fixing relationships would be easy! If it were, I wouldn't be 40 and still trying to make things better with my mom every day. It would have happened a long time ago. All I can do is keep trying, and not let that trying be derailed by side issues, like resentment over holiday gifts.

You seem to feel very strongly that directly tackling the issue of unwanted giftgiving is the way to go. My belief is equally strong that the gifts aren't really the problem for most people, and at least for my own family. I don't really feel any common ground with your post, to be honest, so, I remain solid in my conviction! I will continue to read the next eight pages of posts though, because I think this discussion is very interesting and we're never all going to agree.
post #157 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by madskye View Post
Seriously, no where in my post did I say fixing relationships would be easy!
Sorry, I didn't mean to imply you said that. That was intended to be just a light-hearted side comment. I should have included an emoticon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by madskye View Post
You seem to feel very strongly that directly tackling the issue of unwanted giftgiving is the way to go. My belief is equally strong that the gifts aren't really the problem for most people, and at least for my own family. I don't really feel any common ground with your post, to be honest, so, I remain solid in my conviction!
Fair enough. All I can tell you is that it worked *wonders* for us. And actually made it easier to tackle some of the other, smaller issues (on both sides.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by madskye View Post
I will continue to read the next eight pages of posts though, because I think this discussion is very interesting and we're never all going to agree.
post #158 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~pi View Post
That's wonderful for you. Really.

Though I'm a little confused about how you reconcile that with your earlier statement about how it "sucked" that you didn't get more than one Barbie. Why wouldn't you just appreciate the gifts you got based on your value system? Or is this value system something that you have developed as an adult but have not yet not applied backwards to your childhood?
Like most feelings it's complicated.

The barbie was WRT my parents. They were the ones who got me a token one of my own and only because my sister threw a fit and insisted that they get me my own barbies so I wouldn't keep taking hers (used in a very elaborate game she and her BFF played). I think that parents tend to give different gifts than other people. I know that's vague, but I'm not sure I can clarify.

Quote:
FWIW, we take the same approach: we are grateful for all gifts we receive. We just don't want to spend all day opening gifts. We would rather spend time with the people we love. I think that's a perfectly reasonable set of priorities.


You have a way to make "fake time" that you then use for online discussions?!! That is AWESOME. Please, hook me up! Tell me your secret!!
What I think about and discuss online has very little relevance most of the time to what I think about and discuss IRL. I have probably never put this much thought into Christmas gifts before.
post #159 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by JL83 View Post
Like most feelings it's complicated.

The barbie was WRT my parents. They were the ones who got me a token one of my own and only because my sister threw a fit and insisted that they get me my own barbies so I wouldn't keep taking hers (used in a very elaborate game she and her BFF played). I think that parents tend to give different gifts than other people. I know that's vague, but I'm not sure I can clarify.
No, that totally makes sense. And I would agree that it's reasonable to expect parents to have a better sense of what fits you as a gift. It sounds like you got typecast by your parents. Sorry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JL83 View Post
What I think about and discuss online has very little relevance most of the time to what I think about and discuss IRL. I have probably never put this much thought into Christmas gifts before.
I get that -- I was just poking fun at myself with the "real time" issue. I would personally really enjoy having "fake time" for online discussions.
post #160 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~pi View Post
Fair enough. All I can tell you is that it worked *wonders* for us. And actually made it easier to tackle some of the other, smaller issues (on both sides.)


Probably because you were honest! That's always a good step towards a/sign of a healthy relationship. And it sounds like you put a lot of thought into how you approached it.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Parenting
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Multi-spinoff - Gifts, a sign our culture is "sick"?