Wedding Woes

Jean is a dick

Dear Prudence,


I’m a single woman with a large extended family. I cope with the enormous project of buying Christmas presents by getting them very early. Everyone in my family knows this; it’s the family joke that I have all my presents purchased by Halloween. My brother’s wife “Jean” sent out a group text last week saying they have decided not to exchange gifts with the extended family and would only be getting gifts for each other and their own kids. They have five kids, both together and via previous marriages, so I understand, but would have appreciated more notice. My mom asked what I was going to do, and I said I’d keep the gifts for the kids but return the ones I got for my brother and Jean. Unfortunately, my dad, the family big mouth, overheard us and told my brother.

This weekend, Jean made a snide remark about how I didn’t understand the “true meaning of Christmas” and how I’m withholding their gifts simply because I’m not getting anything in return. In the moment, I snapped that she doesn’t get to spend my money for me but on reflection I’m a little afraid she’s right. Would it be petty of me not to give her and my brother the gifts I already bought for them? Or am I within my rights to return them?

—Christmas Gift Drama

Re: Jean is a dick

  • edited November 30
    So I don't really think Jean is a dick. Was "the true meaning of Christmas" a dick comment? Probably. But maybe she regrets that comment. Just as LW regrets snapping at Jean. 

    And really...who the fuck cares? Water under the bridge. LW can return the gifts or not and she doesn't owe anyone an explanation either way. If Jean says "where's my gift?" (she won't), LW can say "we thought you didn't want to exchange gifts, but we couldn't resist getting gifts for the kids."

    Going forward though, LW should probably just make her own decisions about gifts and stop gossiping to her parents (and likely other extended family) about her response to someone who's just trying to make Christmas not cost thousands and thousands of dollars.
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    short+sassycharlotte989875
  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska
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    Exchange:

    • the act of giving or taking one thing in return for another. 
    • the act or process of substituting one thing for another


    mrsconn23OliveOilsMomshort+sassyInLoveInQueens
  • So, sure Jean is a dick. 

    BUT I do think it's a little petty LW returned the gifts. Sure, in the future I wouldn't participate, but you bought them because you thought it would be something they like, no? That doesn't change IMO just because Jean isn't participating anymore. Why tell anyone (even Dad) that you purchased then returned; that just seems a little immature to me?

    southernbelle0915
  • Meh, I would interpret it as "Hey - we decided we're not doing that this year!" 

    So to me, that's the invitation to stop the exchange and do what you want with gifts.   IMO it's not really spiteful.     And even finding out that things may be exchanged shouldn't make you upset.   It should make you relieved unless you're someone who constantly takes and rarely gives. 
    lovesclimbingOliveOilsMom
  • GBCK said:
    Dad is a jackass too.


    Yes, true!  I had a similar thought.  And the brother should have also just kept his mouth shut, because I'm assuming he knew it would upset his wife.

    I don't remember the exact wording, but there is an adage that is something like:

    It takes two people to hurt you.  Your enemy who says something bad about you.  And the friend who tells you about it.

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    STARMOON44mrsconn23eileenrobcharlotte989875
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
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    So, sure Jean is a dick. 

    BUT I do think it's a little petty LW returned the gifts. Sure, in the future I wouldn't participate, but you bought them because you thought it would be something they like, no? That doesn't change IMO just because Jean isn't participating anymore. Why tell anyone (even Dad) that you purchased then returned; that just seems a little immature to me?

    Well, Dad overheard, and I think that makes him a dick for repeating it to Jean. But the LW's Mom didn't need to ask about it, and I agree with you that the LW didn't have to tell her.

    It may have been petty for LW to return the gifts, but that was her prerogative. When Jean announced that she and her husband weren't going to participate in the gift exchange, I think it was logical for the LW to assume that they didn't want gifts for themselves. And in view of Jean's dickness, I wouldn't have sent the gifts to her and her husband (though I still would have to the kids, but what's the odds that the kids would even get to receive them?)
    charlotte989875
  • GBCKGBCK
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
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    Eh, I don't see returning as petty as much as the social niceties.

    I'd probably return because there is something very awkward about giving a gift when you can't reciprocate.  It kinda sucks to be to poor to give, and I do always get pissy when people give when we've agreed not to becuse of that.  (nd that is why kind inexpensive and/or token/generic gifts exist.)
    mrsconn23OliveOilsMom
  • For me on whether or not she should return might depend on the dollar value of the gifts and how it fits in her disposable income. So if they are $10 gifts I'd probably just have given them anyway and then in future years not purchase. If I'd spent $50 or $100 on each I might reconsider and return them. Now of course Jean's comment might have pushed me to return no matter what. 

    My brothers and I don't do sibling gifts anymore (and we never did a high value) but one year right after we decided that my local brother got me a gift and I hadn't gotten him anything and I felt really bad. But we had decided not to get them and he had forgotten. It sort of evened out in the sense that he had a kid and I didn't so I had probably spent a similar amount on her but I of course expected no reciprocation. 
    mrsconn23charlotte989875
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23
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    edited December 1
    kvruns said:


    My brothers and I don't do sibling gifts anymore (and we never did a high value) but one year right after we decided that my local brother got me a gift and I hadn't gotten him anything and I felt really bad. But we had decided not to get them and he had forgotten. It sort of evened out in the sense that he had a kid and I didn't so I had probably spent a similar amount on her but I of course expected no reciprocation. 
    Same.  We don't even exchange gifts with my parents any more.  We do a stocking draw (so each person buys for another person's stocking...We went to that several years ago because my mom was doing all the stockings and it was getting to be $$$) with a $25 limit and then a white elephant (no gag gifts) with a $50 limit.   We do the same white elephant on DH's side as well.  We end up spending less because we were spending more than $200 trying buy gifts for everyone. 

    I will sometimes sneak a gift in to my mom and dad 'from the kids', but only if I find something that's cute or just totally 'them'.  
    charlotte989875OliveOilsMomInLoveInQueens
  • If someone told me they weren’t exchanging gifts, I would think it only polite to respect their wishes and not give them gifts. I’d have returned or regifted the presents, absolutely, and Jean is selfish and dreadful. 
    mrsconn23OliveOilsMomJediElizabethInLoveInQueens
  • mrsconn23 said:
    GBCK said:
    Dad is a jackass too.


    Yes, true!  I had a similar thought.  And the brother should have also just kept his mouth shut, because I'm assuming he knew it would upset his wife.

    I don't remember the exact wording, but there is an adage that is something like:

    It takes two people to hurt you.  Your enemy who says something bad about you.  And the friend who tells you about it.

    Yes, dad and brother share blame here for playing messenger to Jean.   

    But I still hold the opinion that Jean didn't need to shit on LW when JEAN decided she (and presumably her H) were no longer going to participate in exchanging gifts with LW (and the other adults in the family).  What LW had purchased or not and what she does with those purchases after obtaining the new information is LW's prerogative.  Jean assuming LW was going to give her a gift anyway is dickish.  

    Furthermore, LW *should* be able to have a conversation with her mom, even with her dad in earshot, and expect it not be blabbed all over the family.  If I were LW, I'd definitely be telling dad that what he did was BS since his flappy mouth caused the drama in the first place. 
    I'm with you @mrsconn23.   I'd think that I could have a conversation with my parents and also be honest: If they don't want to exchange any more than that's an invitation to return my gifts.   Obviously none of us are inferring tone but I just took it to mean that the LW interpreted this as a way to save her money so now she is.  

    We just decided to do that this year with DH's brother/SIL.   We have two kids and they have 3 and it's just easier at this point to buy for the kids. 

    Frankly that's easier on us but we came to the mutual decision. 
    mrsconn23STARMOON44OliveOilsMom
  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska
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    About the time two of my sisters and I got married, we started doing a drawing in my family. You only have to get one gift! Before that, a lot of us were going together on larger gifts so people were getting fewer gifts in general. 

  • Adults who want gifts from other adults besides their SO baffle me.
  • Adults who want gifts from other adults besides their SO baffle me.
    Why? Lots of us like gifts! My best friend and I exchange them because we love each other and know each other’s tastes really well. 

    Also, like horrid Jean’s sister, not all adults have SOs and yet still enjoying giving and receiving things is totally normal. 
  • kerbohlkerbohl
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    edited December 7
    Adults who want gifts from other adults besides their SO baffle me.
    Why? Lots of us like gifts! My best friend and I exchange them because we love each other and know each other’s tastes really well. 

    Also, like horrid Jean’s sister, not all adults have SOs and yet still enjoying giving and receiving things is totally normal. 


    I'm sort of with not giving gifts for adults, but that's more for Christmas or even birthdays specifically. I'm fine with not getting or giving gifts for birthdays or Christmas, but if I see something throughout the year in a store that I know someone will like, I'll give it. It's just not really a gift (I don't wrap or anything) - more of a "I saw this and thought of you".

    edited for clarity ...

    imageimage
    short+sassy
  • Adults who want gifts from other adults besides their SO baffle me.
    Why? Lots of us like gifts! My best friend and I exchange them because we love each other and know each other’s tastes really well. 

    Also, like horrid Jean’s sister, not all adults have SOs and yet still enjoying giving and receiving things is totally normal. 

    Ok, I think I worded what I was thinking incorrectly. I meant "adults who get all up in arms about gifts from anyone other than their SO baffle me". And even with the SO thing, I'm kind of being hypocritical - I just know I've felt disapointed when old boyfriends have gotten me things that were really unthoughtful. If giving gifts gives you joy, than I think you should continue to do that thing, but if at any point it turns into a stressor for you or your friend, you should be able to let go of it without conflict. I just don't think adults should demand gift exchanges during the holidays or otherwise. JMO
    InLoveInQueens
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