I’m Shopping for Perspective

My niece-in-law invited us over this past summer for a party for two of her three children’s birthday because they have dates close to each other. We attended, but I decided to provide a third present for the third child as an early birthday present. I didn’t want the one to feel left out of the celebrations when siblings were getting a bunch of presents. This child wasn’t quite yet two so I know they had to help open it and they knew the intent behind it, however I can’t confirm that because they never sent thank-you cards.

A month or so later, we had Aitch’s birthday party. We invited several children including these three siblings. We see them fairly frequent as they are my SIL’s grandchildren. The party came and went and there was never a card, gift or so much as a "Sorry, we couldn’t come to your party," by the NIL. They said they weren’t coming in an email and that was it, which OK, fine. They didn’t owe me an explanation.

Then the third child’s birthday came up and again we were all invited. With really no excuse not to go, we did, but I did not bring a present. I had already done so at the first party, plus they never did get anything for Aitch…I’ll admit, I was a tad bitter. Especially when they took all three of the kids to their cousin’s birthday party that was 75 miles away, whereas NIL and our families live in the same town.

Now that I think I have it all behind me, I get an email today from the NIL asking about Christmas. She writes, "I am trying to get an idea for christmas presents for the kids this year. Otherwise, my other thought is to not exchange at all since the kids are so hard to shop for. I am very flexible either way."

Here’s the deal, I would be thrilled to not to go out and buy anymore presents than I have to, so I’m all for saying no gift exchange. (Sidenote: they’re hard to shop for?? Little kids are not at all hard to shop for. They love everything!) However, this email was sent only to me, not to the other cousins’ family. If the in-laws get together, I’m not going to be the one with the kids who neither get to hand out presents or get presents. My reply: "Will there be a family get together? If so, I’m sure all the kids would enjoy exchanging gifts, especially if we let THEM pick out each gift and have a cost limit. It would be fun seeing what they would pick for each other."

I’ve never been good at diplomacy, but this was OK, right? And I know, no matter what gets "decided", Sparring Partner will require I get presents for his nieces’ children because that’s just the way he is. I know this all makes me out to be an asshole, but I hate feeling as if my children are getting the shaft when the personality conflict is with me, not my kids.