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.

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6 thoughts on “I’m Shopping for Perspective”

  1. Sounds very diplomatic to me! Please teach me oh master! I have a really hard time being diplomatic, and have ceased doing so with my s.i.l. The witch has three kids for whom I’ve bought gifts- despite the fact that not ONCE has she or her husband ever included my oldest daughter (whose been in the family longer than HER), Hubs and I have always included their children and purchased gifts for birthdays and Christmas, etc etc… I now have two children who are BIOLOGICALLY related to her husband; therefore related to her and her children BY BLOOD- and have never gotten so much as a Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas. My husband totally lost his shit over it last year and said they can “suck it”! No more gifts for them.

  2. Your reply sounds very diplomatic. We don’t even do Christmas or birthdays with my husband’s family. We invite them for my daughter’s parties once in a while, but I’ve even given up on that. Of course, who do we see at the venue for my daughter’s last birthday? My husband’s sister and her son (who is 10 months older than my daughter). Ugh. Anyway, it does sound like she’s not interested in buying presents, but wanted to put it on someone else.

  3. I have the opposite problem with the kids of my in-laws. They get my kids several expensive and elaborate gifts for Xmas and I have always been outdone. Not this year! I am getting those kids tons of crap!

    You did fine with your reply. She just wanted to you to be the one to say “no gifts.”

  4. I think your response was perfectly fine – no asshole-ish felt at all. You’re simply clarifying her original question. And yeah, you can buy kids a package of new pencils and they’re pleased. I think she’s looking for YOU to be the one to say “nope, no presents!” and then she can feel better about herself. I lucked out with my family and husband’s family – we barely do presents for anyone anymore!

  5. Oh I have this with my in-laws. Sigh my kids are not the favored ones and it sucks for all of us because I know for certain after 20 years they hate me although i do EVERYTHING I can to make my time with them pleasant. They adore my barbie doll sister in law though. Sigh. I’m sorry hope you get a resolution. I hate the holidays

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