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Christmas gifts that are continually not ideal, and general etiquette - Page 6

post #101 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by aran View Post
I am not the one you are asking, but I have the same problem, and have found that none of the charity organizations around us are interested in already-been-used toys. I am not talking about beat up stained or worn out toys either. I have searched on the Internet and all the local organizations I can find ask for new toys in the original box
There is always some organization, shelter, daycare, hospital, doctors office, dental office, salvation army, or charity of some sort that will except old toys.

We regularly donate older toys to all of these types of places. Not so much thing holiday because of our situation, but everytime there is a birthday or christmas we clear out the toys. It was like that when I was growing up too.

the only one I know of where it has to be a New toy is for the Santa Fund (or toys for tots, or Lions Club, it has different names) where they give these brand new toys to children who are in need of them. Many of whom never get new toys. They want to make Christmas special for these children who have nothing else.

All else fails there is always Freecycle.
post #102 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by TulsiLeaf View Post
Let me put it to you this way.

If I bought you a gift, I bought YOU a gift. ....Toys with bells and whistles and lights and batteries are the NORM and most people scoff at a wooden barn.
.
You=people who think that all gifts should be accepted humbly and kept and cherished indefinitely
Them=people who receive gifts

So you scoff at their feelings about what they want to have in their homes, but you claim that you are being thoughtful when you buy a toy with bells and whistles and lights and batteries in deliberate contradiction to what you know about them? Instead of, oh, say, buying a very small toy that does fit with everything you know about them and their way of life? Or, better, not buying a toy at all and giving something consumable, or making up a story, or offering to spend time with people you care about enough to want to give a gift to?

Your choice is to buy something that has nothing to do with them and their lives and then to get offended when they aren't 'grateful enough' that you spent money on them. And, in fact, you will be MORE offended if they remind you that whatever it is doesn't fit into their lives at all so that you can, theoretically, avoid wasting more of your money.
post #103 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bellabaz View Post
I disagree with everyone saying it is rude to donate unwanted items. I genuinely don't want a winter coat with fur on it for my 1.5 year old who already has two winter coats. That is why I create wish lists, because our families don't live close and therefore don't know what my kids are into. Its the same for me with my nieces and nephews. We are always grateful that someone gives us a gift. But then its our gift to do with as we see fit. I think it is rude to buy someone a gift that you would love for them without thinking if it is something they would like. Gifts should be given with the reciever in mind.
Yes. This. Thank you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
I'm a big believer in "it's the thought that counts"
So gifts where it's clear the giver put no thought into it "they told us they don't have room for ride-on trucks and that there are dozens of toys their kids would rather have, but we always give them a ride-on truck", don't deserve gratitude.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
You=people who think that all gifts should be accepted humbly and kept and cherished indefinitely
Them=people who receive gifts

So you scoff at their feelings about what they want to have in their homes, but you claim that you are being thoughtful when you buy a toy with bells and whistles and lights and batteries in deliberate contradiction to what you know about them? Instead of, oh, say, buying a very small toy that does fit with everything you know about them and their way of life? Or, better, not buying a toy at all and giving something consumable, or making up a story, or offering to spend time with people you care about enough to want to give a gift to?

Your choice is to buy something that has nothing to do with them and their lives and then to get offended when they aren't 'grateful enough' that you spent money on them. And, in fact, you will be MORE offended if they remind you that whatever it is doesn't fit into their lives at all so that you can, theoretically, avoid wasting more of your money.
BRAVA on both of these, seriously. I mean, this "be effusively grateful for ANYTHING ANYONE gives you, and never donate or return it" principle? How far does that go, exactly? What if I really, really want to give a bottle of specially aged scotch to my hypothetical uncle, who has been a recovered alcoholic for 30 years? He's obligated to be grateful to me, and to be sure to keep it around because donating or regifting it would offend my generous spirit of giving?

Yes, that's an extreme example. But there are plenty of examples I can think of where people know of a family's values and deliberately go against them/ignore them. A huge package of Hickory Farms for a vegan family - those INGRATES, I can't believe they wouldn't chow down! A beautiful, personalized, leatherbound picture Bible for a Muslim family. Take the holiday context out of the picture. You're a breastfeeding mom, and Aunt Linda decides to continuously bring you cans of formula and bottles and pacifiers and onesies with "Enfamil Rocks!!!" all over them. Come on, nursing mom, be flexible! Not everyone shares your precious 'values'.

Yes, less than ideal toys are a little bit different - and to be crystal clear, like another poster upthread, I am also not talking about a one-off oops, or even an occasional oops. I'm talking about repeated, intentional affronts to values. I mean, how does what our kids play with NOT matter? Isn't play a huge part of how children learn? Isn't how children learn a huge part of being a parent? Isn't that what we're all doing here in the first place, being conscientious parents (however that takes shape for you)?

What really strikes a nerve to me, that I haven't seen discussed (maybe it has been, I just haven't seen) is how this casts YOU (i.e. the parent of the recipient) in the role of Bad Guy with your kid. Let's say you've decided you're not doing video games in your household. Then Grandpa, who knows this, comes over with a deluxe X-Box and 10 new games. Your kids are thrilled. So, because you don't feel that you are obligated to completely change your own values due to Grandpa's generosity, the onus is on you to take the games away from your kids. THANKS FOR MAKING ME THE GRINCH, GRANDPA. And on top of that, now that my kids are pissed at me, we're not even allowed to donate the game to a family who would really appreciate it? I. Don't Get. It.

Rant over. Thanks for indulging me. (Can you tell I have some issues with my in-laws?)
post #104 of 122
Great post, RoseDuperre!!!!
post #105 of 122
Thread Starter 
This is the OP. May I just say thank you?!

I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude to the people who posted about how offensive it is to donate the unwanted items, but donations are a kind and thoughtful thing to do in my book.

There are so many families and individuals who could actually use donated items (maybe not so much toys but certainly for families with children that is the case).

To let them sit in my closet or basement or, worse, throw them away is just wasteful.

I'm not going to do that. I'll donate and be glad to do so.

Also, yes, it does seem sort of rude to buy things they know we won't use, won't like, and don't believe in, and then direct ill feelings towards us (me) when we donate them.

The first year it happened, I accepted with a polite smile but made what I thought were maybe comments about what types of toys and clothing I buy, giving not so obvious hints and also explaining reasons. Well, that just went right over their heads.

The next year I explained that no, we really do not have room and maybe instead get these items. Again, that was pretty much dismissed.

Third year I just repeated, and now subsequent years I'm donating! And not feeling bad about it in the least.


Quote:
Originally Posted by RoseDuperre View Post
Yes. This. Thank you.




BRAVA on both of these, seriously. I mean, this "be effusively grateful for ANYTHING ANYONE gives you, and never donate or return it" principle? How far does that go, exactly? What if I really, really want to give a bottle of specially aged scotch to my hypothetical uncle, who has been a recovered alcoholic for 30 years? He's obligated to be grateful to me, and to be sure to keep it around because donating or regifting it would offend my generous spirit of giving?

Yes, that's an extreme example. But there are plenty of examples I can think of where people know of a family's values and deliberately go against them/ignore them. A huge package of Hickory Farms for a vegan family - those INGRATES, I can't believe they wouldn't chow down! A beautiful, personalized, leatherbound picture Bible for a Muslim family. Take the holiday context out of the picture. You're a breastfeeding mom, and Aunt Linda decides to continuously bring you cans of formula and bottles and pacifiers and onesies with "Enfamil Rocks!!!" all over them. Come on, nursing mom, be flexible! Not everyone shares your precious 'values'.

Yes, less than ideal toys are a little bit different - and to be crystal clear, like another poster upthread, I am also not talking about a one-off oops, or even an occasional oops. I'm talking about repeated, intentional affronts to values. I mean, how does what our kids play with NOT matter? Isn't play a huge part of how children learn? Isn't how children learn a huge part of being a parent? Isn't that what we're all doing here in the first place, being conscientious parents (however that takes shape for you)?

What really strikes a nerve to me, that I haven't seen discussed (maybe it has been, I just haven't seen) is how this casts YOU (i.e. the parent of the recipient) in the role of Bad Guy with your kid. Let's say you've decided you're not doing video games in your household. Then Grandpa, who knows this, comes over with a deluxe X-Box and 10 new games. Your kids are thrilled. So, because you don't feel that you are obligated to completely change your own values due to Grandpa's generosity, the onus is on you to take the games away from your kids. THANKS FOR MAKING ME THE GRINCH, GRANDPA. And on top of that, now that my kids are pissed at me, we're not even allowed to donate the game to a family who would really appreciate it? I. Don't Get. It.

Rant over. Thanks for indulging me. (Can you tell I have some issues with my in-laws?)
post #106 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoseDuperre View Post

What really strikes a nerve to me, that I haven't seen discussed (maybe it has been, I just haven't seen) is how this casts YOU (i.e. the parent of the recipient) in the role of Bad Guy with your kid. Let's say you've decided you're not doing video games in your household. Then Grandpa, who knows this, comes over with a deluxe X-Box and 10 new games. Your kids are thrilled. So, because you don't feel that you are obligated to completely change your own values due to Grandpa's generosity, the onus is on you to take the games away from your kids. THANKS FOR MAKING ME THE GRINCH, GRANDPA. And on top of that, now that my kids are pissed at me, we're not even allowed to donate the game to a family who would really appreciate it? I. Don't Get. It.

Rant over. Thanks for indulging me. (Can you tell I have some issues with my in-laws?)
Yeah. Exactly. Especially when it's not the first time the issue has come up. And let's face it, many kids will go crazy over the battery operated bells and whistles toys. It's just not fair to do that to a kid.

It reminds me sort of a family who is tv free. They are raising their 4 children tv free and have been for years. But when they go to their inlaws, the grandpa always turns on the tv and tries to get the kids to watch it and shows them cartoons and says aren't these cartoons great? Just think if you could watch these at home?

My inlaws aren't quite that overt, but sometimes they border on it. For instance, other than the toy issues, we've had two other issues sort of along this vein.

I decided we would not use a pacifier with our infant. ...for philosophical reasons but also because we had trouble with latch and breastfeeding and the breastfeeding consultant said to not use one.

I talked at length to my mother-in-law about that and when I took some powerful pain relievers after my c-section and fell asleep for about 20 minutes I woke up and my infant had a pacifier!

Another instance is that I am vegetarian. I have been for years. I expressed that I might raise our child vegetarian and my father in law said something like "if my grandchild comes to our house I'm serving hamburgers and that's that."

I don't think they've ever actually done that, but they've never really had the opportunity to do so.

I don't know...there's just a general lack of respect for my (our) values.
post #107 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
I don't know...there's just a general lack of respect for my (our) values.
This is the heart of the problem, the unwanted gifts are just a symptom. Maybe this is what your DH should address with his parents, if he hasn't already. If he has addressed it, then it needs to be repeated over and over and over again every time they step out of line.

It's tough dealing with family that intentionally tries to undermine your parenting. We've been dealing with it for 8 years. We have finally just about got them to a level that is tollerable. Good luck!
post #108 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post

I don't know...there's just a general lack of respect for my (our) values.
I understand the sentiment here

but I admit I am a little confused. How is having this big truck a lack of respect for your values?

I understand the having to many of one thing issue, but that seem, to me, like more of a lack of paying attention, or something more then a values thing.

Big trucks, while a PITA space wise seem pretty normal and unabtrusive. In the its a truck way, not the I have 7 and thats enough way.

What about a "hey can he get something other then a truck cause he still has all the others kind of question?


And before anyone jumps on me I am not being rude I am trully trying to understand how a truck is combine with values. I mean a gun or weapon I could totally understand, but a truck?
post #109 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimberlyD0 View Post
I understand the sentiment here

but I admit I am a little confused. How is having this big truck a lack of respect for your values?

I understand the having to many of one thing issue, but that seem, to me, like more of a lack of paying attention, or something more then a values thing.

Big trucks, while a PITA space wise seem pretty normal and unabtrusive. In the its a truck way, not the I have 7 and thats enough way.

What about a "hey can he get something other then a truck cause he still has all the others kind of question?


And before anyone jumps on me I am not being rude I am trully trying to understand how a truck is combine with values. I mean a gun or weapon I could totally understand, but a truck?
I would equate the general wastefulness of with a value I dislike. Frugality and environmental consciousness are values I abide by, so having multiples of something is against those values.
post #110 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
I would equate the general wastefulness of with a value I dislike. Frugality and environmental consciousness are values I abide by, so having multiples of something is against those values.
So its better to be rude and shun gifts and family members then have more then one truck? That seems worse then having 7 trucks.

Mind you this comes from someone who values my families (ALL of them) feelings over anything else. Multiple toys isn't something to get worked up over. Its something you say "hey thanks, great truck, we still have the other 6 you bought too. I think thats enough" and then you move on and donate or not donate. Its not a waist to give a gift, its waistful to throw away family over something so silly.

As I said though in our home there is never an issue with that. Now we treasure what little we have, and before we always got rid of the old toys for these occasions. We gave them to other family, free cycled them, thrift store, schools. daycare, shelters. Where ever they were needed more.
post #111 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimberlyD0 View Post
What about a "hey can he get something other then a truck cause he still has all the others kind of question?


And before anyone jumps on me I am not being rude I am trully trying to understand how a truck is combine with values. I mean a gun or weapon I could totally understand, but a truck?
Hey, no problem! I will not jump on you! Yes, a gun or weapon is more obvious.

The issue with the trucks is the size (large), the amount (let's see...I've lost count...but quite a few year after year), the repetitive nature of the gift (again, year after year), and the (values thing here) fact that they are battery operated, bells and whistles, loud, "male gender" oriented (the truck, in a man's voice says, "let's load 'em up, guys" or something like that.

We've said the "hey, how about something else this year" and one year it sort of worked but it was back to the same old thing this year...large plastic battery operated trucks, etc.

Oh, well, what are you gonna do? It's not the biggest deal on earth. I mean, an earthquake just hit Haiti. That's a tragedy. This is small potatoes and I care less and less about it, especially after I've donated the stuff.
post #112 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
I would equate the general wastefulness of with a value I dislike. Frugality and environmental consciousness are values I abide by, so having multiples of something is against those values.
Yes, thank you. Having multiples (clutter) and not using something when someone else could (letting it sit in a basement, garage, or closet) is against my values.

So, I donate. And I bet someone else finds a use for them.

Just as when I shop at thrift stores, I find use in something someone else couldn't find a use in. It's a lovely system.



But when inlaws get upset that multiple or inappropriate for us toys are donated, it's difficult to deal with.

And when they continue buying those things, even when they've gentle, subtly, and not so subtly been told to please stop, that is also difficult to navigate.

And, yes, sometimes it feels like it's maybe a passive aggressive attempt to change our values, or to dismiss them as stupid. (As much has been said).
post #113 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimberlyD0 View Post
So its better to be rude and shun gifts and family members then have more then one truck? That seems worse then having 7 trucks.

Mind you this comes from someone who values my families (ALL of them) feelings over anything else. Multiple toys isn't something to get worked up over. Its something you say "hey thanks, great truck, we still have the other 6 you bought too. I think thats enough" and then you move on and donate or not donate. Its not a waist to give a gift, its waistful to throw away family over something so silly.

As I said though in our home there is never an issue with that. Now we treasure what little we have, and before we always got rid of the old toys for these occasions. We gave them to other family, free cycled them, thrift store, schools. daycare, shelters. Where ever they were needed more.
I am trying to see your point, and it is probably how my inlaws see this, too.

I wish I could come up with a good example. OK, let me try this. I am vegetarian. They are not. What if I bought them a vegetarian cook book every year for Christmas, and then I asked them, "did you use it? where is it? what did you cook? how come all the vegetarian cook books aren't displayed where I can see them? why don't you want it?" And then maybe they explain politely, well, we're not vegetarians, but thank you. And then I just repeat the same questions I asked the first time, "did you use it? where is it? what did you cook? ..."

And then I buy them a vegetarian cookbook for the next 10 Christmases. And what if they live in an apartment with say only one book case and they want to store some of their own books on the shelves and they donate the vegetarian cook books to thrift store and a person who is a vegetarian buys them and uses them and loves them? But I get mad about that and just keep buying them more vegetarian cook books every Christmas.

And they finally say, look, we're not vegetarians. We're not going to use the vegetarian cookbooks and we have like 15 of them from you. Please don't buy us more vegetarian cookbooks. You were upset when we donated the last few, so, here, please take these ones with you and store them at your house.

And I get really mad, say some things like "it's so hard to buy you presents, we just don't understand, you make things so complicated, what is wrong with the vegetarian cook books?"

And even though I've had this conversation with them, the next Christmas I still buy another vegetarian cookbook...and buy a vegetarian cookbook for each of their birthdays, too!



Obviously, it's not exactly the same, but hopefully you see my point.
post #114 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
I am trying to see your point, and it is probably how my inlaws see this, too.

I wish I could come up with a good example. OK, let me try this. I am vegetarian. They are not. What if I bought them a vegetarian cook book every year for Christmas, and then I asked them, "did you use it? where is it? what did you cook? how come all the vegetarian cook books aren't displayed where I can see them? why don't you want it?" And then maybe they explain politely, well, we're not vegetarians, but thank you. And then I just repeat the same questions I asked the first time, "did you use it? where is it? what did you cook? ..."

And then I buy them a vegetarian cookbook for the next 10 Christmases. And what if they live in an apartment with say only one book case and they want to store some of their own books on the shelves and they donate the vegetarian cook books to thrift store and a person who is a vegetarian buys them and uses them and loves them? But I get mad about that and just keep buying them more vegetarian cook books every Christmas.

And they finally say, look, we're not vegetarians. We're not going to use the vegetarian cookbooks and we have like 15 of them from you. Please don't buy us more vegetarian cookbooks. You were upset when we donated the last few, so, here, please take these ones with you and store them at your house.

And I get really mad, say some things like "it's so hard to buy you presents, we just don't understand, you make things so complicated, what is wrong with the vegetarian cook books?"

And even though I've had this conversation with them, the next Christmas I still buy another vegetarian cookbook...and buy a vegetarian cookbook for each of their birthdays, too!



Obviously, it's not exactly the same, but hopefully you see my point.

No sorry I don't. Its not even close to the same. A large truck is something ALL kids love. Boys and girls so its not the same as trying to push something they don't like. If your SON disliked trucks then maybe. But its not your son who has the issue with the gift its you.

If it worked once to ask for something else then it can work again. No need for a big talk though, just a nice suggestion. Something non confrontational and non picky.

Sometimes people need to be told more then once.
post #115 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimberlyD0 View Post
No sorry I don't. Its not even close to the same. A large truck is something ALL kids love. Boys and girls so its not the same as trying to push something they don't like. If your SON disliked trucks then maybe. But its not your son who has the issue with the gift its you.

If it worked once to ask for something else then it can work again. No need for a big talk though, just a nice suggestion. Something non confrontational and non picky.

Sometimes people need to be told more then once.
Oh, very true. I hear you.

It's not ONE big truck, though. It's multiple big trucks, multiple years. It's big ride on ones, multiple years.

They've been asked, hinted at, asked again, and it's been both nicely and politely and more firm. It's been an ongoing issue.

Things that we didn't want or need, I donate. They have asked where the things are, though, of course.

With the big trucks, yes, it's what they're made out of and the sounds, etc, but also space. It takes A LOT of space to have all those big trucks underfoot in the living room.

But they've all been donated. It was actually a good lesson to my child about children who are less fortunate. We talked about how other kids would have fun playing with the trucks and then we picked out one new toy at the toy store to repace the 10 or so that were donated.

We're sort of minimalist in all other things in life, and I've been working on clutter for a long, long time, so it just doesn't make a lot of sense for us to have that many multiple toys.

Sorry if you don't see my point. Thanks for the comment!
post #116 of 122
its not that I don't understand your point, I just think that the trucks are a bad way to make them.

I also can see this from your IL's POV, which is your son loves the trucks. Therefor they're trying to make your SON happy and they get him what he loves. You mentioned they don't come often, its possible they didn't know you still had all the other trucks still NWIM??

As your son gets older HE can ask for things, and I'm sure they're accomidate them.

This is on value that I see family trumping only because from my POV family value will always be higher then any other. So for us, with little family left, they're more importent then if they got the right gift.
post #117 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimberlyD0 View Post

This is on value that I see family trumping only because from my POV family value will always be higher then any other. So for us, with little family left, they're more importent then if they got the right gift.
But why, from your POV, should the gift giver be afforded respect and not the receiptent of the gift?

Family ties should definitely be valued, I agree with you there. But that also includes the gift giver respecting the wishes of the parents and respecting how they chose to conduct their own family life. That means that if the parents say no more trucks please (whether it be because of size, noise, plastic, MIC, whatever), then the gift giver should at least make an attempt to abide.

You personally may not understand the big deal about trucks as gifts, but then again your personal values may be different from the OPs. You are making the assumption that the child's love of big trucks and the grandparents desire to please the child trumps the value system of the family as a whole. In your assumption, the respect for family ties goes only one way--to the gift giver.
post #118 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimberlyD0 View Post
I also can see this from your IL's POV, which is your son loves the trucks. Therefor they're trying to make your SON happy and they get him what he loves.

As your son gets older HE can ask for things, and I'm sure they're accomidate them.
Thanks. I appreciate your attempts to see their point of view.

I'm not sure my little one loves the trucks, though, and this is why they buy them. I mean kids tend to go ga ga to anything that is presented to them (at this age) including empty boxes and wrapping paper.

Yes, my child is definitely attracted to the lights, sounds, buttons...what kid isn't drawn in by this?

I'm sure if my in-laws raided the candy store and brought 10 giant candy bars to my child as a gift, my child would go ga ga over that, too. But would that be healthy? It might be fun, but is it a good thing for grandparents to do?

My point is my child doesn't need that many trucks (just one example, might be getting to hung up on the trucks) but does need other things, and the nature of the gifts is that they are repetitive and not what we need.

So, that is the exasperation...not be listened to, not being respected in our choices and values, and then not being allowed in a gracious manner to donate what we don't see as fit for our house and our family. It just creates issues with DH, my child, me, everyone involved. If they listened better or were more thoughtful in what they did, it would be better.

But it is what it is.

A month or so later, it doesn't matter. It's a non-issue and not that important, as I said earlier.

Haiti is important. THIS is a tiny mosquito that will hopefully fly off and not bother us again for some time.
post #119 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama1803 View Post
But why, from your POV, should the gift giver be afforded respect and not the receiptent of the gift?

Family ties should definitely be valued, I agree with you there. But that also includes the gift giver respecting the wishes of the parents and respecting how they chose to conduct their own family life. That means that if the parents say no more trucks please (whether it be because of size, noise, plastic, MIC, whatever), then the gift giver should at least make an attempt to abide.

You personally may not understand the big deal about trucks as gifts, but then again your personal values may be different from the OPs. You are making the assumption that the child's love of big trucks and the grandparents desire to please the child trumps the value system of the family as a whole. In your assumption, the respect for family ties goes only one way--to the gift giver.

Thank you.

This is exactly my point of view.

And now I'm moving on to other things...a month later, this is such an unimportant issue and non-existent problem. Yes, it is annoying when it happens, and, yes, it's a missed opportunity to spend the dollars more wisely on things we actually need and could use, but it's not my call, and if they want to waste their money, then that is their choice.

The toys will be used by someone, and so it's not a loss.

Not a huge deal, just a small disappointment, easily forgotten.
post #120 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama1803 View Post
But why, from your POV, should the gift giver be afforded respect and not the receiptent of the gift?
I think she's viewing the son as the recipient (which is true) rather than his mom. If he enjoys the truck, that's important, too. I view parenting, especially when my ideas come into conflict with extended family's ideas, as a balancing act. At some point, I give on some things because it will help the overall relationship develop; at other times, I step in and put our household values first.

My dad bought my son an ESPN t-ball machine last year. Though I *love* sports, it's not something I push on my son (and really isnt' something he shows interest in). Still, I chose not to say anything to my dad and let DS enjoy the t-ball machine for a week or 2 until he got tired of it. I could've donated it, but it was better for me for my son to get to play with the toy his grandpa bought him. My dad's terminally ill. There may not be any Christmases left with him, and I'm not going to go head-to-head over a values difference in a toy.

Now if someone bought my daughter a Bratz doll, then that crosses that imaginary line for me that says 'no, these aren't the values we're teaching our daughter.' So I wouldn't let her have it, and I'd explain that to the giver.

It seems in this situation that you need to sort out the various issues you have: giving a truck (though I honestly think you're limited in how you think trucks can be played with - they're more open-ended than you suggest); getting multiples of the same items; and general disrespect for your space and emotional needs. Even with the multiple trucks, I wouldn't like it, but lots of folks do. I know families with 10 or so riding toys for their kids; we just have different values. If your ILs don't see you often, then perhaps they truly don't understand that you don't want the trucks. Also keep in mind that some people say "no, please don't get us that," but they don't mean it. They're saying it to be polite. Your ILs really may misunderstand what is going on. (Some people don't do well with hints!)
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