Registering and Gifts

Big uh-oh! I need help!

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Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!

  • I want to know what the gift is, exactly. For all we know it's a joke. Or socks.
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  • Well, if nothing else, it seems to have gotten everyone thinking.  And, for anyone who may care, there is a polite way to turn down a gift, despite what the overwhelming majority of you have said.  My step-mother and I are not very close, so it would be understandable for her to not understand my belief system.  That is beside the point
    .   
    I did tell her that i could  not accept it, and that both my fiance and I were not accepting such from anyone because we didn't agree with it (and yes, if it really matters to you that much,  I will tell you that I know for sure my FI is of the same mindset because we have talked about this very thing, and I talked to him about how to refuse her as well).  I told her that I loved her and respected her, but that I could not take such a gift.  She totally understood and is even going to help me by making sure no other such things are brought to my shower.  I  underestimated her, but I am very glad we worked it out because now she and I are working in tandem to prevent any more embarrassment. 

     For any other poor soul who runs across this issue and gets no support from the other knotties, I hope you find this helpful.   Thanks to the very few (rlavach especially) who actually tried to help me solve the problem, even though she might not have agreed specifically with why it was a problem.  It is a matter of principle and deeply held convictions.  So, contrary to everyone...  Turning down a gift can be done politely and sensitively, AND better things can come out of it. 
  • In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!:
    In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help! : Absolutely. That wouldn't be a very good friend, would it. I don't think that was the case for the OP, but she hasn't come on to clarify in a bit.  I don't mean to say that just because you will accept a cross you are less dedicated or committed to your religion than I am. Not at all. For me, accepting a religious article from another religion actually breaks several tenets and commands. I hold my personal relationship with God far above my relationship with other individuals (friends or not). For that reason, I feel it more important to stand by my beliefs rather than accept a gift to be gracious. I would certainly never be rude or nasty about it.Maybe this is what the OP is thinking, or maybe not.  
    Posted by rlavach
    I agree that I would never accept a religious gift that was outside of my faith. I'm surprised to see so many people saying you wouldn't mind, or would just trash it. That seems way more disrespectful, to trash something of any faith. I don't think I'm holier than anyone else, but I just wanted to say I don't see rlavach as being outlandish here.
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  • DiLynn83DiLynn83
    100 Comments
    member
    edited January 2012
    In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!:
    Well, if nothing else, it seems to have gotten everyone thinking.  And, for anyone who may care, there is a polite way to turn down a gift, despite what the overwhelming majority of you have said.  My step-mother and I are not very close, so it would be understandable for her to not understand my belief system.  That is beside the point .    I did tell her that i could  not accept it, and that both my fiance and I were not accepting such from anyone because we didn't agree with it (and yes, if it really matters to you that much,  I will tell you that I know for sure my FI is of the same mindset because we have talked about this very thing, and I talked to him about how to refuse her as well).  I told her that I loved her and respected her, but that I could not take such a gift.  She totally understood and is even going to help me by making sure no other such things are brought to my shower.  I  underestimated her, but I am very glad we worked it out because now she and I are working in tandem to prevent any more embarrassment.   For any other poor soul who runs across this issue and gets no support from the other knotties, I hope you find this helpful.   Thanks to the very few (rlavach especially) who actually tried to help me solve the problem, even though she might not have agreed specifically with why it was a problem.  It is a matter of principle and deeply held convictions.  So, contrary to everyone...  Turning down a gift can be done politely and sensitively, AND better things can come out of it. 
    Posted by snran1

    Dude.. no, just no.

    Ok you did what you did.  Fine.

    But don't come on here and say we were "unsupportive."  We gave you good, solid advice.  We were all polite and respectful to you.  We explained that the only gracious thing to do is to accept, smile and say thank you.  Manners are non-negotiable.  You weren't looking for support, you were looking for validation for your poor manners, and now you're bitter that you didn't get it.

    When you receive the same answer, over and over, from newbies and established knotties, maybe you need to consider that the majority is correct.
  • In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!:
    In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help! : I agree that I would never accept a religious gift that was outside of my faith. I'm surprised to see so many people saying you wouldn't mind, or would just trash it. That seems way more disrespectful, to trash something of any faith. I don't think I'm holier than anyone else, but I just wanted to say I don't see rlavach as being outlandish here.
    Posted by daniandron
    Thanks! I agree that it feel more disrespectful to take something & trash it than to not accept. 

    For instance, a radio dj was saying the other day that he received another Bible for Christmas and decided he wanted to throw out his old Bible. But he didn't know how to. He wrapped it up & then put it in the trash. Then he took it back out b/c he felt it was improper (it is). The convo went on & on about how you can't do that & how it's disrespecful & sacreligious. It ended with him keeping all the Bibles.

    Although that's not exactly the problem for the OP, it helps to show that at times it's better to decline a gift, rather than be disrespectful. 
  • snran1snran1
    10 Comments
    member
    edited January 2012
    In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!:
    In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help! : Dude.. no, just no. Ok you did what you did.  Fine. But don't come on here and say we were "unsupportive."  We gave you good, solid advice.  We were all polite and respectful to you.  We explained that the only gracious thing to do is to accept, smile and say thank you.  Manners are non-negotiable.  You weren't looking for support, you were looking for validation for your poor manners, and now you're bitter that you didn't get it. When you receive the same answer, over and over, from newbies and established knotties, maybe you need to consider that the majority is correct.
    Posted by DiLynn83
    If I were looking for "validation", as you so put it, I would have posted my question by saying "Just got an offer for this gift, and I don't want it because of this, this, and this.  Does anyone else feel the same?"
    But, seeing as the question was not posted as such, validation was obviously NOT the point.  I truly wanted advice on the best way to turn it down.  You don't have to agree with someone to give them advice on how to handle a situation, and it seems to me like the only "advice" I got was that I was being rude.  Well, ya'll can think that, but I just needed a little help on the best way to word a kind refusal.  Refusing something is not in and of itself a rude thing to do, it is how it is done and why it is done.  My intentions were kind and the reasons and convictions behind it was deeply held, so a little advice on how to follow-through isn't a lot to ask.  At least, I didn't think it was. 

     One final thought before I peace out for good on this convo:
    There are many people out there who are pro-peace and anti-war.  They do not believe it violence at all, and they do not condone anything related to violence.  If someone told them they had a gift for them, and then gave them a gun, what would the peacemaker do?  They would refuse it.  they would have to.  they believe in peacemaking, no matter the cost, and accepting the gun as a gift would violate those beliefs.  They could not even take everyones advice and take it and "throw it away".  Why?  Because taking the gun in the first place would violate what they stood for.  The very action of even acknowledging the weapon would go against the very core of their being.  Even if they honestly just took the weapon and immediately dropped it into the trashcan, the weapon and its significance in and of itself is a HUGE blow against their belief system.  Would you honestly blame and attack this person for being rude and not accepting the gift?  I don't think so. 
    Now, this situation is entirely different, but the principle behind it is entirely the same:  When the very state of something violates who and what you are, accepting something to avoid hurting someone crosses the line between being nice and allowing the world to tread on you like some dead rat.  You have the right as a human being to hold values and beliefs that may disagree with what others think, and you also have the right to kindly speak out and point out where your values differ, and to take action accordingly.  If your intent is not hateful, there is nothing wrong with refusing or disagreeing with someone over something.  this applies to the world of gift-giving and receiving as well.  Luckily, I am finding this out on my own, and there are plenty of articles online on how to refuse a gift in a polite and sensitive manner.

      I just hope you all remember that no matter how weird, off the wall, or crazy someones beliefs may be (such as being against intimate articles of clothing), they have the right to think and believe that.  and if they are simply asking for help. try and EMPATHIZE with them.  Put yourself in their shoes, and try to feel as well as you can how you would feel if you held their beliefs and were in their situation.  Then give your advice based on how you would feel coming from THEIR perspective. 
  • In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!:
    In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help! : Thanks! I agree that it feel more disrespectful to take something & trash it than to not accept.  For instance, a radio dj was saying the other day that he received another Bible for Christmas and decided he wanted to throw out his old Bible. But he didn't know how to. He wrapped it up & then put it in the trash. Then he took it back out b/c he felt it was improper (it is). The convo went on & on about how you can't do that & how it's disrespecful & sacreligious. It ended with him keeping all the Bibles. Although that's not exactly the problem for the OP, it helps to show that at times it's better to decline a gift, rather than be disrespectful. 
    Posted by rlavach

    I thikn that is an entierly good point, and I really agree with you on that.  I would rather respect them in the first place and refuse nicely than to disrespect and devalue their thought and gift by trashing it. 
  • rlavach, why couldn't he just donate the Bible?

    As a Jew, if someone gave me a copy of the New Testament, I'd say thank you and shelve it, knowing that if my Catholic boyfriend and I ever had children, my old copy of the Old Testament and my new copy of the New Testament could go to good use someday.
    Or I could donate it to Goodwill or ask my boyfriend's grandmother if there was anyone at the church who could use it.
    If it's an heirloom, I'd keep it to pass it down.
    There are literally millions of things I could do with it that wouldn't be sacrilegious.

    You're making someone very small into something that doesn't need to be a big deal.


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  • If someone told them they had a gift for them, and then gave them a gun, what would the peacemaker do?  They would refuse it.  they would have to.

    In New York state it would be illegal for someone to buy me a gun. Actually, it would be illegal for me to keep it, since I don't have a license. And as a pp stated on the first page, if it's against the law, that would be an exception.

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  • In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!:
    In New York state it would be illegal for someone to buy me a gun. Actually, it would be illegal for me to keep it, since I don't have a license. And as a pp stated on the first page, if it's against the law, that would be an exception.
    Posted by Simply Fated
     

    Yes, and you are entirely missing the point of that example.  But that is your choice. 
  • I think there's a big difference between informing someone of your preferences and declining a gift.  I do see a difference between saying, "hey, stepmom, I know you said you were going to shop for a nightgown to give to me as a gift, but I wanted to let you know that I prefer to pick out my own things and am sensitive about being modest," and "here, take your gift back, I don't want it."  If you were asking about how to do the former, I don't think it was phrased well. 

    With Joy's alcohol example, it's the difference between telling a guest that asks "what kind of wine can I bring" that you don't have alcohol at home and sending a guest home with their gift.  For another example, my vegetarian dad used to receive steaks in the mail as a holiday gift from a business acquaintance.  He eventually mentioned to the gift-giver that while it was a very generous gift, my brother had been enjoying the steaks instead of my dad because of his dietary preferences.  The gift-giver was happy to send something else, and I don't think it was as insulting as sending back the steaks with "murderer" written on them. 

  • In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!:
    In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help! :   Yes, and you are entirely missing the point of that example.  But that is your choice. 
    Posted by snran1
    I got your point, but I was just saying that your example was extreme.


    If someone told them they had a gift for them, and then gave them a gun, what would the peacemaker do?  They would refuse it.  they would have to.


    No, they wouldn't have to refuse it... unless someone was holding a gun to their head. It's a choice to refuse a gift. It's always a choice.


    I will try not to harp on your use of the term "peacemaker," but I'm curious. Does this mean people who support guns are warmakers?



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  • In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!:
    rlavach, why couldn't he just donate the Bible? As a Jew, if someone gave me a copy of the New Testament, I'd say thank you and shelve it, knowing that if my Catholic boyfriend and I ever had children, my old copy of the Old Testament and my new copy of the New Testament could go to good use someday. Or I could donate it to Goodwill or ask my boyfriend's grandmother if there was anyone at the church who could use it. If it's an heirloom, I'd keep it to pass it down. There are literally millions of things I could do with it that wouldn't be sacrilegious. You're making someone very small into something that doesn't need to be a big deal.
    Posted by Simply Fated
    That's exactly what all of the other people told him. That would've been a much better solution.
  • In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!:
    I think there's a big difference between informing someone of your preferences and declining a gift.  I do see a difference between saying, "hey, stepmom, I know you said you were going to shop for a nightgown to give to me as a gift, but I wanted to let you know that I prefer to pick out my own things and am sensitive about being modest," and "here, take your gift back, I don't want it."  If you were asking about how to do the former, I don't think it was phrased well.  With Joy's alcohol example, it's the difference between telling a guest that asks "what kind of wine can I bring" that you don't have alcohol at home and sending a guest home with their gift.  For another example, my vegetarian dad used to receive steaks in the mail as a holiday gift from a business acquaintance.  He eventually mentioned to the gift-giver that while it was a very generous gift, my brother had been enjoying the steaks instead of my dad because of his dietary preferences.  The gift-giver was happy to send something else, and I don't think it was as insulting as sending back the steaks with "murderer" written on them. 
    Posted by jessicabessica

    You are ABSOLUTELY correct, and I agree with you completely, and being entirely rude and hateful was not my intent.  If it was, I would not have asked for help here.  You are probably correct in saying I did not phrase what I was asking very well.  I certainly would never say "I don't want your gift" in a malicious tone.  That is not at all what I really meant by it.  I appreciated her efforts very much, and it is very sweet to me that she cares and took the time to pick out a gift.  I really meant it in the tone of your first (see bolded) statement, and all I was looking for was a little help on how to say something like that to her.  you really nailed it on the head there, and that is all I was asking for in the first place was for someone to give me advice like that.   My intent was not to (maetaphorically) write "murderer" on the steak and send it back, my intent was to gently inform and refuse.  You really hit the nail on the head.  Laughing
  • In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!:
    I will try not to harp on your use of the term "peacemaker," but I'm curious. Does this mean people who support guns are warmakers?
    Posted by Simply Fated

    I really don't think that is the point of this whole conversation.  Let's stay off the bunny trails.
  • RunsWithBearsRunsWithBears
    10 Comments
    member
    edited January 2012
    OP, you got very good advice, it just wasn't what you wanted to hear.  Understand that the women here aren't going to help you to be rude or less rude, they are going to tell you not to be rude at all.

    I'm glad your situation worked out and that your step-mom was understanding.  However, not all people are going to be like and there's a good chance that you might really offend or hurt someone by acting as you did, even if you don't intend to (remember it's the thought of the gift that counts - not necessarily what it is). I think it's best just to learn how to act politely and respectfully sooner rather than later.

    Also, please remember that donating stuff to charity is a perfectly acceptable way to get rid of a gift that you cannot use or do not want.

    Edited for clarity.
  • I take religious beliefs very seriously, and have a few strange religious beliefs of my own, so, OP, I'll give you belated advice.

    There's an analogous situation in the old etiquette books: That of an unthinking man giving a young woman an intimate gift. In those old days, accepting such a gift would imply to anyone who learned about it, including the 2 people directly involved, a more intimate relationship than they had. The examples in the books are silk stockings and anything too expensive. The books advise that the young lady look all flustered and say, "Oh, thank you! It really is lovely. But I couldn't possibly accept such a gift from you. I really appreciate your wanting to make me a gift. I'm sure you understand." and hand it back.

    I guess that's what you did. I'd be really interested in any plans for dealing with such gifts at a shower. Will you make a scene and hand them back immediately, to avoid taking spiritual possession of them? or will take the guest aside before the shower is over? I'm unaware of any religion that would value protection against the appearance of immodesty over the dignity of an elder, but I only have 12 years of formal religious education.

    "intimate" is a funny word. I'd wonder if it wasn't just a very large check or family heirloom the family member didn't want passed around in front of others. If I were in OP's situation, I'd just arrange not to open the gift on the spot. How OP knows without seeing it that this gift is against her religious beliefs is beyond me. It's not like an observant Jew being told, "Harry&David sent me an e-mail that the crab cakes I ordered for you won't arrive until after Chanukah, but I wanted you to know I was [half] thinking of you during the holidays." Then you'd know for a certainty the gift was not something you could use. [Most observant Jews would just thrown the crab cakes out, rather than refusing delivery, though.]
  • In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!:
    . I'd be really interested in any plans for dealing with such gifts at a shower. Will you make a scene and hand them back immediately, to avoid taking spiritual possession of them? or will take the guest aside before the shower is over?
    Posted by ElisabethJoanne

    As far as the shower is concerned, most people know me well enough to know that if such a gift was brought to my shower, I would refuse it and ask them to leave.  Also, on the invitations to the shower the wording "no intimate gifts" will be printed. Although asking them to leave is harsh, I find it entirely disrespectful when someone knows where you stand and STILL does something to disrespect that.  So, I guess I should say, rather, that those people who DO bring such gift and know better will be asked to find the door ASAP.  those who make an honest mistake will be privately informed.  their own shame and embarrassment when they find out what they have done will be enough.
  • In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!:
    OP, you got very good advice, it just wasn't what you wanted to hear.  Understand that the women here aren't going to help you to be rude or less rude, they are going to tell you not to be rude at all. I'm glad your situation worked out and that your step-mom was understanding.  However, not all people are going to be like and there's a good chance that you might really offend or hurt someone by acting as you did, even if you don't intend to (remember it's the thought of the gift that counts - not necessarily what it is). I think it's best just to learn how to act politely and respectfully sooner rather than later. =
    Posted by RunsWithBears
    I do know how to be polite and respectful, and of course it is the thought that counts, but I am no moron to sit back and allow people to walk all over me.  I will tell them exactly how I feel and why.  Shading or keeping the truth back does no good.  Feelings are created by the person herself.  If she feels hurt or offended by what I said or did, SHE created those feelings, not me, and therefore, those are her responsibility.  I cannot chnage how she FEELS about what I did.  She may be offended if I did accept it (as in some cultures it is offensive to accept gifts), she may not be.  It is HER feelings, and my only responsibility is to be honest and truthful with her, and allow her to see where I am coming from.  That doesn't mean rude or hateful.  I am honest, yet gentle.  What happens inside her after that is up to her and her alone.
  • In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!:
    [Most observant Jews would just thrown the crab cakes out, rather than refusing delivery, though.]
    Posted by ElisabethJoanne
    If they were kosher, we could either throw them away, give them away or present them to other guests, "Oh look, what so and so bought us! Please try one!"

    I'm not kosher, so I'd eat them. For the record. :)

    Refusing delivery would be so rude. My Rabbi and his wife told me they received non-kosher gifts all the time from well meaning neighbors, friends, and even members of the temple. They graciously accepted and did one of the things I mentioned, but never declined them. There is no reason for that.
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  • I'm sorry, I just don't really understand the comparison between lingerie (or a freakin' nightgown) and a GUN. Nighties never KILLED ANYONE.

    I Just. Don't. Get. It.
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  • I still want to know what this offensive undergarment is that has sparked this great debate.

    Also, the gun thing was really a terrible analogy. 
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  • I think TK ate one of my posts, so I'm going to attempt to give the cliffnotes of what I had posted. Hopefully the post shows up again.

    [Most observant Jews would just thrown the crab cakes out, rather than refusing delivery, though.]
    More likely we could give it away, share with neighbors... there are plenty of options.

    Refusing a gift isn't on the list of polite options, though.

    The Rabbi's family told me this happened to them often from well meaning people. They would happily give out the food, especially baked goods, to other non-kosher people.

    Wasting food is a sin, FWIW.
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  • In Response to Re: Big uh-oh! I need help!:
    I'm sorry, I just don't really understand the comparison between lingerie (or a freakin' nightgown) and a GUN. Nighties never KILLED ANYONE. I Just. Don't. Get. It.
    Posted by Ali092011
    Yes, but maybe people with nighties kill people?  (I agree the guns was a poor analogy, and I'm not really sure that the religious articles are such a great analogy either.)

  • While I do agree with pretty much everyone else that you should just accept the gitt and then return it, this decision is completely up to you.

    Just explain the situation to her and thank her for attempting to give you a gift.  Of course she won't feel good - that's just the nature of rejection.  Just be as nice as possible about it.

  • If its my birthday and I am a vegan and my boss offers to take to to a steak dinner, should I just suck it up, or should I politely refuse?

    OP- I feel your pain.
  • I say accept the gift no matter how distasteful or undesired it is. My future mother-in-law is Muslim (I'm Christian) and gave me almost a dozen books on how to raise children in a Muslim home and even some (to me) slightly humorous books on acceptable positions for consummating our marriage. She meant no harm. After reading countless warnings that it is very rude to refuse a gift, I feel you would be the distasteful one if you still insist on offending someone for your own satisfaction.  
  • I accidentally took my fiance to a BBQ restaurant when we first began dating. As I mentioned, his family is Muslim and they do not eat pork (which is a staple at BBQ joints). He ordered fish but was still uncomfortable because the food was prepared together. He had a few bites, and then told a little white lie that he was no longer hungry, but that he did enjoy my choice of restaurant. This is the type of person I want in my life... not someone who would have made a scene of refusing to eat at one of my favorite restaurants. Honestly, if he had humiliated me in that way, we probably wouldn't have had another date. 
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