I love my sister Shelley to pieces but like most siblings, there are a few things she does that annoy me. Quite frankly, I know there are many things I do that annoy her, but one of her annoying qualities is Christmas-themed, so it bears recounting at this time of year.
Shelley is tight. Really tight. In fact, if I discovered that somehow she was a descendant of Ebenezer Scrooge himself, I probably wouldn’t be that surprised. She takes frugality at Christmas to new heights.
I have deals going with many of my friends where if we honestly can’t afford to buy one another gifts, then we just don’t. Or we just buy small things for each other’s kids. This has worked well for many years.
I have tried unsuccessfully to get Shelley involved in the Christmas deal process but she pooh-poohs it as if such behaviour is beneath her. She says that her kids – my niece and nephew – love getting Christmas presents from Australia; that they look forward to the parcel I put together every year.
Now I love putting that parcel together and every year I hope a similar parcel will wing its way over from America for my boy, but no parcel comes. For 13 years no parcel has come.
A couple of years back I got really sick of it and didn’t send a parcel to America. The fallout was tremendous. Shelley went on and on about how disappointed her kids were. She even got my Mum involved and I was painted as the most selfish sister and aunt ever. Yet the one little detail of my son never getting a Christmas parcel from his aunt in America was overlooked.
I got tired of trying to explain myself, so I started to send the parcels again, but my heart really wasn’t in it. I don’t need to take as much as I give, but sometimes giving, giving, and giving some more just gets to be too much; especially when you have a son who would dearly love a parcel from America.
So the parcel is off this year. I don’t want to disappoint the kids but there has to be a limit to this non-reciprocal thing. I feel bad, but I feel good at the same time. Scrooge is definitely in the house.
*Image by SweetSoulSister at DeviantART.
You are indeed the good Auntie. Much kinder than I am, on so many levels!
I’m sorry your sister is being such a pill, and I really wish she would figure out that it would be nice to show the same courtesy to her nephew that she expects from you.
I think it’s a true testament to your character that you would send the parcel with the kid in mind rather than your sister in mind. Good on you. 🙂
I felt terrible reading this as I may very well be your sister. My sister lives in USA and send us either packages or Amazon certificates so we can pick things and then she posts the stuff to us. I never send anything- to anyone- not even Xmas cards.
My main reason is most of the things I can buy here they can get better in USA and for a heck of a lot cheaper. I could send them crafts and things I guess. I don’t know- I barely even get myself organised for people right here in my house. Xmas is not such a big deal here. And too I don’t like the whole emotional guilt thing about it. I’d actually prefer that she not send us anything because I don’t like the guilt. Maybe I should just tell her that.
It’s very odd that she could do that. I couldn’t. My sister and I have an agreement that we don’t exchange parcels for ourselves or the children because it seems pointless given how much stuff all our children have. But there is no way I could not send one to her if she put together a parcel for my lot. I would just feel so AWFUL.
It makes me wonder how her brain works, especially with the hooha you describe when you didn’t send one.
It’s a pity your mother didn’t take the fair route and intervene to explain how it was unfair that you always sent something and she didn’t, rather than involving herself to stir things up.
Gift giving at Christmas is such nasty business. I don’t send stuff to the nieces and nephews. I never have – it’s too much. I have TWENTY of them!
My biggest hang up was I would actually put some thought into things, and it was never reciprocated back when I was younger. I would search and search for something THEY would like, not what I would give myself – and my family would always get a game THEY thought was fun (but we hated it) or a scarf THEY thought was pretty (looked dreadful on me), etc. – and I’d try to be grateful and keep it around… finally I just started chucking things because they all just reminded me of how little people thought about me. I didn’t need the negative memories. With the few exceptions, of course.
So I do presents for a few, and the rest, IF they’re lucky, which some years they aren’t, get Christmas cards. And they can scream and holler and moan all they want (sometimes they do that) – and I don’t care one wit. It’s not about giving presents so we can hate each other. It’s supposed to be about love, and when we can’t do that anymore (or won’t), then it’s just time to STOP. IMO, of course. 😉
You know – something that makes me giggle about all this is that it has nothing to do with you or Shelly – at least, the way you paint it. It’s all about the kids. Which, Mama bears are ferocious, so what wouldn’t normally bug you grates 10 times across the nerves.
Or is it really about them? Hmmm…. intriguing post to ponder.
As for your mom – good grief. Well, some moms just aren’t objective – I’m sorry you went through something you shouldn’t have. No – you shouldn’t continue to have to do something your heart just isn’t into.
Selma, I love families. Famlies at holidays send me over the edge! LOLOLOL. I HATE this kind of bullshit that goes on. I pulled a post (before all but two could see it) about how upset I was that I was forced (and really wanted to) be at every birthday, every graduation, every event in my grown niece’s and nephew’s lives. When it comes to my son? They ignore him. Act like he’s a nuisance…we just had a recent incident. And the way your mum sides with her — ohhh makes my blood boil.
But here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m not kidding. Email me (email@example.com) and give me your address or PO and I will send your lovely boy something from America. Hell, tell him it’s from his aunt — I don’t care. I mean it! He should have it, too!
It’s not like I haven’t asked her if it’s a money issue because honestly, why should I mind if she can’t afford it? However, if she can afford it then there’s no excuse. She’s coming across as being a bit thoughtless, unfortunately.
I do try and put the kids first. It’s not fair to drag them into the middle of well, I’m not quite sure what it is. But I would like my boy not to constantly miss out. C’est la vie.
Some people just approach Christmas differently. I’m sure your sister would tell you if it was a problem for her. There is an element of stress involved in the rigmarole of choosing presents and writing cards and so on. I feel it too. I tend to send my sister ‘Aussie’ things that I know she can’t get in the States because let’s face it, there is so much more on offer in the US than here and with the exchange rate and postage she is best to buy anything Fisher Price or what have you over there. Sometimes it might be T-shirts or kangaroo stickers or a cap that says I Heart Sydney that I send. It’s the kind of stuff that tourists buy, but the kids love it. If you feel guilty you should mention it to your sister. You might find that organising the gifts is something she enjoys, anyway!
Families can have strange ways of doing things. I don’t get this one at all. It’s not as if the whole thing hasn’t been discussed ad infinitum. It can sometimes be hard to understand someone else’s perspective.
As usual, you have hit the nail on the head. I think it is a Mama Bear protecting the young kind of thing. I can also relate to your gift experiences. For years I spent ages choosing gifts for people, really personal things that I thought they would like, only to get something like perfumed soap in return. Now there is nothing wrong with perfumed soap but anyone who knows me knows I can’t use the stuff due to asthma and eczema, so it seems like an odd thing to give as a gift. It really used to bother me too. My favourite gift would be if any money spent on me was just given to charity. That would be a really positive thing for me!
You are an absolute darling, but it isn’t necessary. I wish I could spend Christmas with you and just enjoy it. You know what I mean? The game playing really wears me out. I’m sorry to hear your lovely boy is disregarded by the rest of the family. What a shame. They are the ones missing out. Thanks for your beautiful offer. That is the real spirit of Christmas right there!
Cant you just tell her ‘I’m sure Nick would like to hear from you too at Christmas”
Or dont put anything in the post and then when it doesnt arrive, just tell her you posted it. Do that every year, she may get the message.
I have a tight sister but at least she is upfront about not buying presents so I don’t mind. I think if you give them notice that you aren’t buying them anything than they don’t have a leg to stand on – you can’t get disappointed if you know it’s not going to happen.
All I can say is GOOD FOR YOU. That’s not right, the fact that she has NEVER sent a present to your son in 13 years is a disgrace!
I have told her in the past but it just doesn’t seem to sink in. I am not saying anything about a parcel this year. I know it’s a bit of a cowardly way out, but when I’m honest with her it causes such a kerfuffle. Hopefully, she’ll catch on after a few months when it hasn’t arrived.
You are so right. I just wish Shelley would accept it. Maybe she’ll surprise me this year!
It’s not too good, is it? The worst thing is that every year I make an excuse for her to Nick. Things like – ‘ the parcel must have been lost in the mail’ or ‘Australia Post is on strike.’ It’s not fair to always blame the mailman!
I just don’t understand how some people’s minds work. How can Shelley possibly not see how unfair she is being when she knows she hasn’t sent anything for Nick either? The cheek of making a song and dance about it with your mother too when she is guilty of the same thing. It just blows my socks off…truly.
My sister can’t participate in gift giving this year due to a tough financial situation. She explained it to all of us and frankly I’d be mortified if she made her situation even worse by trying to give my kids gifts. I will still give her children gifts because i can and I know if the situations were reversed she would understand too.
I know. It’s the only time Shelley and I disagree. Usually we get on very well. Sometimes I wonder if there’s something she’s not telling me – like major financial problems – and she’s just too embarrassed to say so. Perhaps I’ll never know.
I’m glad you and your sister can be open with one another. That is really important!
When I was a kid, we got packages from relatives in the states and several provinces in Canada. It WAS the high point of the season, Canada Post even delivered on Christmas Eve night in those days WOWSA…I can understand your sister’s anticipation of the package arriving from you but at the same time, $$$ and time are more of a consideration now days. And we were content with very small gifts compared to what kids expected now days. I don’t know Sel, you have to follow your heart on this one…
Hugs, G 🙂
Would you believe the postage costs more than the gift, especially if I send books? My sister is living in Alaska now and the postage from here to there is over the top. I’ll just wait and see what happens, I think.
Well, now … I’m one of the people whose toenails curl at the words ‘essential’ and ‘must-have’ around Christmas. I think what you both ought to do is just put together a package of small, inexpensive items you can’t get in the US or Oz (as the case may be)
I think the gift I treasure most was from my brother-in-law; a completely blank notebook, titled ‘The Aussie Book of Humour’
Now that is funny. 😆
I also don’t like the essential gifts. Nothing is essential, except perhaps, air. And I’m sure some marketing whizz somewhere is already packaging bottles of air as we speak.