Monday, November 16, 2015


I've come to that fork in the road where being a relative expected to give a gift is about to be derailed by years of being ignored by said Giftee.  My only nephew on my side of the family (who's an only child and the only grandchild on our side) is not familiar with the term, "Thank You" when it comes to gifts.  Not even verbally.  As a small child he simply opened boxes as fast as he could, peeked inside, then tossed it aside for the next box.  He was finished with all his gifts (three times that of the adults) in less time than any of us could open one.  I've never heard him say, "Thanks."

His father and I were raised in the days of hand written thank you notes for any gifts received from a relative out of state.  That meant writing ONE note to the Grandma who didn't live next door.  Granted, as the oldest kid, I wrote more notes...but without prodding. When the nephew was a small child, they occasionally prompted him, but when he failed to comply, they merely laughed and rolled their eyes.

Well, eye rolling is not the way to instill manners.

I've tried being patient.  I grew up in a family where birthdays were a big deal: my sis-in-law did not.  They never celebrated birthdays.  When I asked why, thinking it might've been because they were military and away from home a lot, she simply declared they only celebrated Mother's Day/Father's Day.  Took every ounce of me to not gasp, "Really?"  I gently shared that when you marry into a family, you generally adopt some of their holiday ideas too.  It's called compromise.  For me it was easy because Hubby's family was even crazier about birthdays than my Father-in-law went to great lengths to create "Birthday scavenger hunts"...which is how I know which part of their home faces north.  :)  But my sis-in-law remained unmoved.  When the nephew was 3 she told me, "We can celebrate his birthday, but we're not participating in the others."  She's stuck to that policy.  

I finally stopped sending birthday cards to her and my brother, feeling slightly guilty.  But I haven't received one from them in almost 20 years and they didn't even seem to notice.  But every year nephew gets a birthday gift and a Christmas gift.  And I get....silence.

In two weeks this kid will be 16 and honestly, I'm getting a little grumpy about being the package delivery person.

I understand giving is an act of love.  I realize you can't fault a child for what his parents haven't taught him.  But I believe acknowledging a gift is an act of respect.  How to merge the two to benefit both of us?

I sent him a text last week, asking for Christmas ideas.  He ignored it.  I'm thinking it's because he's about to turn 16 and is...busy.  When I sent a text to my brother (because they don't answer phone calls or e-mail) his reply was, "He's on a weekend trip.  But since he ignores our texts, he'll probably ignore yours too."  So far, he has.

So, anyone have a suggestion on how to rise above without taking a swing at my brother for raising a son oblivious to the fact that the world is made up of give and take...not just gimme?

If not, I wonder if I can get a good family rate on a bucket of coal.


debra said...

Make a donation to something you believe in---or you think might be important to him---in his name.

savannah said...

I LOVE debra's idea! Remember, there is no rule that says what TYPE of gift has to be given at anytime, for any reason, or any holiday. Besides, it's not like your brother or sister-in-law can say anything about it! xoxoxo

p.s. we LOVE birthday celebrations around here!!! *wink, wink* :)

hope said...

debra: we run a non-profit charity for wounded soldiers and I said to my husband the other night, "Maybe I ought to make a donation to our charity and send nephew one of our 'Donation made in the name of....' gift cards to that kid." :) Thanks for backing me up.

Sav:so that makes 2 of you who don't think that's nuts. :) Maybe I'll just adopt part of your family...they seem to know how to make a joyful noise. ;)

debra said...

I think it's a splendid idea. Chances are, the kid doesn't need much. Others need so much more!
And I like to celebrate, too (my b'day is April 16 :-)

hope said...

debra: I'll make a note of that. :)

Kim Ayres said...

Sounds like you've got it worked out now with Debra and Savannah. I agree completely. Make a donation in the name of, if you feel the need to give. It obviously makes no difference to him, so it should at least be meaningful to you :)