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