(Closed) Christmas Gifts from Family – A Problem

posted 11 years ago in Family
Post # 47
2393 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

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@coconutmellie:  If you’ve been that clear and they refuse to take the hint, then I’m not sure what else there is to do.  People can be remarkably stubborn, and it’s not your fault if they decide to get their panties in a bunch because they live in a fictional universe.  You can accept the gifts guilt-free (you can’t be held responsible for someone else’s willful self-delusion) or send them back.

Perhaps you can accept the gifts and then donate them to a cause of your choice?  Not the best situation, but you aren’t stuck staring at things that make you uncomfortable and your in-laws might get the message that anything they send is just going to go out the door and stop trying.

Post # 48
14181 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

Man, you’ve told these people point blank you aren’t Christian (which, your husband kept from them up until your recent marriage, so they don’t sound like they are taking it well) and they still don’t get it, eh?

Booooooo for them. I think it’s how they react towards you and your religion that is the underlying issue, not just the gifts. I guess it’d be one thing if they RESPECTED the fact that you guys aren’t Christian but wanted to give you a gift and were like, “we know you don’t celebrate, but we do, here’s a gift!” instead it has all these nasty undertones already, you know?

I’m not sure if i missed this or if the situation is just far too delicate to go there, but your Fiance kinda needs to man up a little.  I know things are kinda weird with my dad, but if my husband ever said to me, “EJS, you need to do something about this, i can’t take it anymore” i’d really change my approach with them.

Post # 49
5822 posts
Bee Keeper

I’m familiar with your relationship with your ILs (very passive aggressive, mean spirited people).  I realize that you have a huge chip on your shoulder with them because they have treated you ROTTEN.  I get that.


I think it’s rude to not accept their gifts at Christmas.  I think it’s rude to not give a thank you card.  I DON’T think you should feel obligated to reciprocate.  If anything, THAT is what will get the message across.  They send, you receive, END.

What I do think is inappropriate is them sending/doing anything for Easter and other Christian holidays.  While gifting one time throughout the year, to me, is acceptable, repeatedly shoving Christianity down your throat is not.  I would suck it up for Christmas.  I imagine THEY feel obligated to include you, since they are giving gifts to everyone else in the family.  They may feel guilty NOT buying you both gifts.

However, if they gift you ANYTHING religious, SEND IT BACK.  That is totally rude, and you have every right to not only not accept the gift, but give it back.  That goes for Christmas, birthdays, Easter, and any other holidays.

On whether you should send them something in the spring…my question is do you send your own family a gift in the spring?  Or a card?  Treat them as you treat your own family and your conscience should be clear about it.

Post # 50
937 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

You are not a horrible person at all.

As Gemstone pointed out, “There’s a religious Christmas and a secular Christmas.” There are many, many people who celebrate a secular Christmas, despite the fact that it IS intended to be a religious holiday. Just because people choose not to acknowledge this doesn’t make it any less a religious holiday. So you are definitely not wrong to view it as a Christian holiday that makes you uncomfortable to partake in.

I don’t really think this is about gifts, though. I think there are issues you are struggling with in regard to your DH’s family, and the gift issue is a manifestation of that. I think you feel frustrated and disrespected by DH’s family. I’m not even sure your issue is totally about religion- I think it’s about how they make you feel. They are using religion as a tool to manipulate, and it sounds like this has been allowed to perpetuate since nothing has really been done about it. If I were you, I would talk openly with your husband about this. As someone who is in an interfaith marriage, who has struggled with religious difference issues with her DH’s family, I know where you are coming from. Things didn’t get better for us until I spoke openly with DH and then WE spoke with his family about how their behavior made me feel. While my IL’s are not exactly going to be breaking out a Christmas tree or coming to Mass with me anytime soon, we DO have respect and tolerance for each other’s religious differences. It sounds to me like that is what you want, too. I think you can get there (or at least try), but your DH needs to step up and talk to his family. He’s a grown man and he has a right to respectfully voice his feelings on this issue with them. If the two of you act as a team, and address this issue with them, perhaps his family will see that you are united and that you are serious about this. It’s hard, I know. Good luck. 🙂

Post # 51
454 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

I completely understand where you are coming from, but I still think you should accept the gifts.  I would send a thank-you note or call to say thank-you, but I would not reciprocate with gifts.

I am Jewish and my stepmom grew up Catholic, but now practices no religion.  She celebrates Christmas and Easter in a secular and completely non-religious way.  Since she has been in my life, she has always included my brother and I in Christmas gift-giving and Easter baskets.  At first we accepted her gifts gratefully but didn’t reciprocate.  In my family, Hannukah was observed nothing like Christmas.  We got one or two big gifts and the other nights we received chocolate coins, small card/board games, or other trinkets.  We got our parents either one thing from both of us, or gave them something handmade.  I guess we did not reciprocate at first because the idea of such mass gift-giving at Christmas was foreign to us.

But eventually as we got older and more mature, it was clear that my dad expected us to give our stepmother and step brothers Christmas gifts.  It does bother me a little to sit around a tree and be expected to celebrate a holiday that means nothing to me.  But it is important to my stepmom, and although we have not always had the best relationship, I give her gifts in order to keep her and my dad happy and to not hurt our relationship.  Also, she did ask us before the gift-giving ever started if it were OK with us, but as 13- or 14-year old kids, we saw no problem at the time with getting some additional gifts each year!

I also give a Christmas gift or tip to my service-people, such as my tailor, mailman, cleaning lady, etc. for the same reason.  Basically the good outweighs the bad for me on this one, with the good being strengthening the relationship and the bad being me feeling a little uncomfortable.

Now, I realize your situation is different, because you don’t WANT to strengthen the relationship since your in-laws have hurt you.  In that case, I say accept the gifts and send a thank-you note or give a call saying thanks, but do not reciprocate with gifts of your own.

Post # 53
160 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

i think you are making to big of a deal of this. Its just gifts. If that is what makes them happy then let them send their gifts. They dont want to leave you guys out. So its very nice. They already know you are not sending them something back and they still send you more gifts. That means they dont care!! they are doing cuz thats what they do!! if you feel so bad send a thank you card thats not religious!! its just common curtesy. let it go.

Post # 54
2319 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

– Just suck it up and receive the gifts, follow with a thank you card.

– Return any gifts that are faith-based (bibles, study books, cd’s, crucifixes, etc.) Don’t just donate them elsewhere or re-gift. ACTUALLY return them. This is a loud and clear msg that though you are accepting of their generosity in gift giving, you have no clue what to do with the religious items. It’s not like you can use them. And why would you donate something that is supposedly very ‘special’ to them? You much rather have them redistribute it appropriately.

– I agree with another PP; only send them gifts at your religious gift giving time if you are sending gifts to your family.

– Your DH and you SERIOUSLY need to have a talk about how he should handle his family’s suffocating religious grasp on both of you. The worst part of this all is that these very people who put on a religious facade are the ones who do not follow their own religion. They will bicker, fight, be selfish, disrespect others, etc. (The list goes on.) I feel like this last point is what’s really irking you that his family is putting on a religious face in front of others, but inside themselves they are deeply flawed. And it’s annoying to want to perpetuate that!

(Did I just go off on tangent there? Sorry! Embarassed)

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