Tag Archives: gifting

“Jaw With John” – You Get What You Give

I have a large family and we celebrate family birthdays at a monthly get-together with a potluck dinner. The dinner is always held at my house and I usually furnish the entree.

One granddaughter and her husband never contribute anything and never bring birthday cards for the honored family members. I have specifically asked her to bring something, and I made it easy by suggesting something simple like a Jell-O salad — but still, they bring nothing. Others are beginning to complain. Should I tell her that others are wondering why she never contributes to the meal? These two always eat.

I don’t want to alienate them from the rest of the family, as we all love them and want them with us. — Wondering Gramma

Dear Gramma:

Large family eh? Sounds like you were busy? Wink wink nudge nudge.

Stay with me here because everything will make sense, I swear. Around Christmas time my family has a saying “If you don’t believe, you don’t receive.” Meaning, if you fail to believe in Santa, you will not receive any presents. It’s a way to keep that childlike spirit of Christmas around even as an adult when you know the truth. It’s not really enforced but it’s still around.

Tell your granddaughter that if they don’t feel the need to participate that when it comes time to celebrate their birthday then they will receive what they gave: nothing. It doesn’t take much to buy a card and sign it or, hell, even buy a gift card. They are doing the least possible and need to know that it is unacceptable. This will send the message loud and clear.

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“Jaw With John” – Ugh, Her Parties Suck

Please update us on current customs, etiquette and hospitality.

My husband and I have a younger friend, “Laura.” She is a psychologist in private practice and a yoga instructor on the weekends.When she had her 35th birthday at a local bar/party room she told everyone to “order lots of food and drink.” We had a can of Sprite and a small bag of potato chips and left early. The next day Laura asked why we left without paying for our refreshments and share of the room rent.

For her 37th birthday, she solicited donations to pay off her student loan. At her 39th birthday party, she had a “smile table” for guests to pay for her dental work (I skipped parties on other years).

Now we are invited to her “wedding.” She was married last year. They are having a reception with “light snacks” on their first anniversary. On the invitation they requested contributions for fertility testing and an IVF procedure.

My husband and I like to help others. We have willingly given Laura thousands of dollars over the years. I’m a retired nurse and volunteer many hours caring for homeless people.

Should we start saving for their eventual down payment on a house? — Bewildered in Seattle

Dear Bewildered:

This girl just want people to finance her lifestyle. Don’t give in. You’ve already given more than enough. She is at the point in her life where she needs to be doing things herself and stop asking others.

There is clearly a pattern for soliciting money. She encourages people to “order lots of food and drink” and then gets mad when you don’t pay for your soda and chips? I’m willing to bet that there were some party-goers who did as they were told and when the bill came for them they must’ve been surprised because she made it sound like she was going to pay for it all. This is the kind of person who would divide up the check evenly amongst an entire group of people even though some people’s meals were significantly less. Those people annoy me.

Break the pattern. Wish her well in her marriage and leave it at that.

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“Jaw With John” – Ah, Adults Acting Like Children — It Must Be Christmas

I have been dating my boyfriend for over a year. We feel like we are very serious about one another. His older siblings and their spouses do a long-distance gift exchange each year. It originally started out at $50, but last year it increased to $100. Each person sends his/her gift requests to everyone in the group and names are pulled at random and secretly assigned by one sibling’s secretary.

These gifts are then purchased and sent to the respective recipient and then we Skype one another on a certain date/time and open the gifts “together.” It seems foolish and materialistic to me.

My boyfriend included me in his family’s gift exchange plans without consulting me first. I reluctantly agreed to it. I tried asking my boyfriend to negotiate a better price point, but he said if I didn’t want to participate I could back out.

I have only met these family members once. Part of me wants to suggest nonprofit organizations they could donate to on my behalf, but I don’t want to make any enemies

How do I walk this line? — Tightrope Walker

Dear Walker:

Your boyfriend’s family needs to rethink this whole “Secret Santa” deal. What’s the point in giving a list to people with things that you want and then getting them those gifts? This sounds very needy of them. They send a list of things they want and then someone is tasked with going out and getting said things??? I don’t like it. It sounds very childish.

You don’t want to make enemies, but you clearly don’t like anything that this gift group – that you were roped into – is doing. As I’ve done Secret Santa, you are assigned a person and then you buy them a gift or gifts, all the while staying under a dollar amount. Suggest this and if they balk send them your charity list. Or just get out entirely.

I don’t care for the Skype date for opening presents. If you’re not there to see them open it in person, they can call you and tell you about it after. This too, seems childish and fosters a “look at me” attitude which, as adults, shouldn’t exist.

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“Jaw With John” – Let Me Call The Whambulance For Your Cousin

How do you deal with family over the holidays?

I have one out-of-state cousin who is the Grinch, and he’s going to be staying with us. He thinks, “If I buy you a $50 gift, you buy me a $50 gift.”

I think you buy what you can afford and not expect anything in return. If someone gives you a gift, then great; if not, then great!

I am only a receptionist and cannot afford lavish/expensive gifts for everyone.

I get my other cousins $2 lottery tickets and that’s it. Now I feel like if I do that for him, he will cry to our grandma or, worse, say something on Christmas morning!

We are all adults now and I feel like we are in eighth grade! Any advice for dealing with him? This is bringing unwanted dread and anxiety when I should be excited and happy during the holidays. I think he forgot the true meaning of Christmas. — HO HO NO

Dear Ho Ho No:

This guy goes and cries to your grandma? Uhhhhh, clearly this guy has issues that extend BEYOND gifting.

By his logic, if he bought you a .50¢ gift then you could give him a .50¢ gift. That’s just stupid. You afford what you can afford and if he doesn’t like the gift/approve of what you spent then take it back and get your money back. You could spend $20 on something that may be perfect for him but since it didn’t cost what he spent on you, he’d be mad. Who gives a shit? That’s not the point of giving gifts or the true meaning of Christmas.

One Christmas, I bought my mom a set of hand made glasses from Italy that she mentioned she liked. It didn’t matter how much it cost to me because I knew she would love it and that made me feel good to do so, no matter the cost. I did not expect her to get me something comparable in price. In fact, that very same Christmas she gave me an awesome Batman mug and it’s one of my favorite gifts that I’ve ever received.

Your cousin needs to learn this maxim that I’ve known since I was young:
Happiness is not getting what you want, but being content with what you have.

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