Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas gift stuff...

I am heartbroken in facing this holiday gift season.  I really only buy gifts for my kids and my nieces and nephews.  The nieces and nephews range in age from 19 to 7.  Traditionally, there are wish lists, allowing me to shop and trying to find "just the thing" for each of them.  My sister and I are best friends, and her children are very close to me and my family - my nieces (ages 16, 11, and 7) and I have a great relationship.  However, my brother and his wife have maintained more distance between me and their kids.  We have divergent religious and political views and I think this really makes the relationship difficult for them (I have no trouble leaving those issues at the door when we are together and focusing on family and loving up their kids).  My sister in law is a control freak who prefers to buy the gifts for her kids and have us then purchase them from her.  I resist this, because it is way too impersonal.  This year, their youngest (13) gave us a catalog with certain items marked.  Shipping was ridiculously expensive so both my sister and I bought her similar items but not the identical things from the catalog - I am quite certain we will get the hairy eyeball from the sister in law for that.  The boys (19 and 14) gave us nothing for ideas.  I am sad to say they are getting cash this year from me.  I will not allow my sister in law to put my name on some gift I wouldn't recognize if she dropped it in my lap and just give the cash to her. 

While this irritates the heck out of me - I have my share of control issues - it also breaks my heart.  Why?  Because I don't know a damn thing about her children that would allow me even to buy a small token gift in which to put the cash - a book, a snack, a T-shirt...anything!  How can I have so much love in my heart for these children and know nothing about them?  Do they have personalities?  It won't be long and these kids will be out on their own and I'll be lucky to see them once a year...have I missed my chance to know them?  I thought I talked to them a lot when we are together and it is disheartening to find myself in this spot.


  1. Having just watched "Home for the Holidays," with Robert Downey, Jr. and Holly Hunter, the comic version of adult sibling rivalry, is alive and well. This is not to trivialize your dilemma, but to put any sort of spin on it, that diminishes the discomfort. A person "who prefers to buy the gifts and have us then purchase them from her," needs to loosen the reins. Kids who are forced into funny-shaped packages, have a tendency to explode when they get older, from the pressure that builds up within that box. Thank you for allowing me to better appreciate the relationship I have with my eight siblings' combined total of twenty nieces and nephews, and that is before partners are combined. Though I do not exchange gifts with them all at Christmas, we celebrate the gift of family each year down at Sebtown's house. All too beautiful for words.

  2. I have given you an award Sarah! Love your writing.

    Any chance of an email subscription? I'm hopeless with readers & feeds!

  3. Julia - thank you so much! I will be popping by to check out this award very soon! And thank you for the email subscription question - I didn't know I could do that! I think I have added that little gadget - please let me know sometime if it works!

  4. Yes, Amen! to Marky. I, too, am sad for your family, sad that the children's mother sees the gift thing as what? a shopping list of acceptable gifts? Where's the chance for love to show through in that?
    And how sad that you can't know your nieces and nephews - what a a gift they are missing in you and what a loss you have in not feeling a connection with them. I know my nieces and nephews have been such a pleasure in my life. When my sibs and I were all in the core raising children time and the kids were all about the same age, we had annual camping trips and Christmas gatherings which set the stage for connections now. They crack my up AND they are all interesting and intelligent people who add a lot to my life. I would share them with you if I could.....

  5. My heart goes out to you on this one (and to the kids whose mother is acting out her own issues by being the gatekeeper in such an unfair fashion. I was just thinking the other day how much I love being an aunt. The relationships I have (and look forward to having in the case of the itty-bitty ones) with my ten nieces and nephews (and one grand-nephew) are the least complicated--and therefore some of the most pleasurable--familial relationships I have.


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