My family makes me feel horrible for not being able to afford christmas

posted 8 months ago in Holidays
Post # 2
1309 posts
Bumble bee

Kslim13 :  Aw Bee.  I’m sorry to hear you’re going through this.  If it makes you feel any better, I too ordered some gifts for my nieces that didn’t make it in time as well.  And I ordered them in plenty of time too.  I read that deliveries are really behind this year.

No one should make you feel like you have to spend a ton of cash on gifts, especially with a baby on the way.  My husband’s family is one to shower each other with (in my opinion) useless gifts just to have the quantity there, where we prefer to buy one or two special gifts.  My Mother-In-Law said something similar to my husband because we got our niece one gift (“that’s all you got her?” was what she said) and my husband put her in her place.  Well, that gift was the favorite one she opened up and didn’t care that she didn’t get 10 little crappy things from us.

You shouldn’t have to explain yourself, and since you already did, maybe take a step back.  There’s a reason the holidays are the most stressful time of year.  You’re not alone in feeling like you have to go into debt and you’re being smart in not doing that.  Take a step back and realize you have to take care of your finances first, and if your family can’t understand that, screw it.  It’s not like you didn’t get them anything; the deliveries are beyond your control.

Big hugs.

Post # 3
9138 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

If a baby’s on the way, you’re going to have to grow a spine very quickly and get used to putting your foot down with your family. There’s really no other solution. Your family can be annoying/frustrating/etc., but you can’t control any of that. You CAN control standing up for yourself and your little family and learning how to say no.

Other thoughts: a $20 gift card isn’t “useless junk”…! I’d love that. 5 gifts for your nephew alone seems excessive.

Post # 4
7447 posts
Busy Beekeeper

Kslim13 :  she sounds like a peach. Don’t give it a second thought though – people who only care about getting a gift on December 25th to feel like “family” aren’t particularly good family. Next year I would send cards to everyone (and ONLY cards) and call it done. 

Also – Christmas ends on January 5th. December 25th is the START of Christmas. 

Post # 5
272 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2017

That sounds so harsh! My husband and I were discussing how people today celebrate Christmas so different than we were kids. It wasn’t about all these dang presents, it was about celebrating the birth of Jesus and spending time with family. Now we are NOT super religious by any means but Christmas was just so different. Nowadays it’s the expectations of presents because it’s become so commercialized. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to spend a lot on presents. It’s ridiculous! And don’t even get me started on the “filler” presents. The ones you get because you can’t think of anything else to get the person. I’m so sorry you are dealing with this but I think you should stand up to your mother. It’s your life, your money, and your time! You have a family of your own to take care of. 

Post # 6
4388 posts
Honey bee

Your family are kind of jerks.

But maybe I’m not one to talk because I bought one book for three children to share.  My family is not big on having to have things the day of, and we’ve kind of outgrown the whole doing it up big on presents thing, particularly for adults of working age (I tended to spoil my grandma a lot when she was alive, but we were very close).  I actually find five gifts for your nephew a bit outrageous – he has parents, parents who likely bought him more than enough. 

That isn’t to say we never do gifts, we’re just more “spending time is most important” people and we tend to buy little things all year round as we see them and decide we really want people to have that thing rather than buying gifts for the sake of gifts because of a date on the calendar.

So that’s my way of saying to tell them to stuff it.  I would hope you at least called your grandmother close to the date if you are close to her.  But otherwise, your mom can stuff it.  It’s fine if that’s how they choose to do their holiday but they have no right to impose those same expectations on other adults.

Post # 8
6736 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2016

Kslim13 :  How old is your nephew?

I will say, especially for kids, they don’t need much and they certainly don’t need anything expensive! My son turns 1 tomorrow and while he did end up with a ridiculous amount of presents this Christmas, aside from one thing that cost us $50, all his other gifts were under $20 (many under $10). And he loves them! Young kids are pretty easy to entertain cheaply. Once they get a bit older it gets more difficult. So while you may think of spending under $20 as “useless junk,” I guarantee the kids don’t see it that way. 

Now, as for your mom making you feel bad… Tell her tough. You did your best. You have a lot going on in your own life right now. They can kick rocks. The nephew will still get his gifts. It just makes Christmas last even longer! I think you need to learn to stick up for yourself more. And if she’s really making you feel bad, tell her that’s uncalled for and you refuse to be talked to that way. Then hang up the phone! 

Post # 10
47175 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Stop trying to please your parents. One of the tasks of growing up and becoming an adut is to develop your own value system, separate from your parents’. One of those values is being accountable for your own finances. Adults are answerable for their life obligations, including employment, bill paying, house chores and upkeep, and being as good as their word.

I suggest you cut back even further and from now on send your nephew only one gift. Can you imagine how many gifts he would get if everyone sends him FIVE gifts? You will be helping to start him down the road of delf-entitlement.

Post # 11
1456 posts
Bumble bee

One of the toughest things about adulting and prioritizing your own family (you, hubby, and little one) is growing a titanium-IDGAF-steel spine and setting firm boundaries around your family of origin.  Because to be a full-fledged adult, you must realize that your #1 responsibility/priority in life is now putting your children/husband’s health & well-being first and are NEVER responsible for anybody else’s feelings getting “hurt” because you chose to prioritize what works for your family over other peoples’ wants/needs/convenience, etc.  

Also, it sounds like as your own family is growing, your values around money and beliefs about “what really matters in life” are changing from what you were taught during your childhood.  Based on your update, your family seems to prioritize money/how expensive something is and equates how much you spend with how much you “love” them.  Which is really shitty and shallow because true unconditional love is priceless and no amount of money in the world would ever be enough to properly convey that.  So already you are in a losing battle because none of your gifts will ever be “good enough” for them unless it equates some crazy arbitrary number/value in their minds based on how much they feel they’ve given to you.

Sorry bee, but unless you set strong boundaries, you and your child(ren) will be the only ones who will lose out the most from this.  Unless your family realizes and decides to change how they equate love with money spent, you will always lose.  Another thing to consider is, do you want your children growing up with this type of gift-giving value system?  Because I guarantee, the only thing they will learn and experience is how whatever they give is never good enough to your parents/siblings (unless they spend a lot of money like their cousins, etc) and instead of joy and love, be filled with anxiety, fear, heavy guilt, and stress whenever the holidays with your parents, sister, etc rolls around — just like what you’re going through right now.

Post # 12
1044 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2019 - USA

I’d tell them (if this comes up again) that bottom-line, it’s none of their business what presents you do or don’t buy. It’s not up for discussion, and it’s also incredibly rude to imply that what you’re giving isn’t good enough. Gifts are just that- GIFTS. There shouldn’t be strings attached to your love for your family. If that’s what they’re implying then they need to re-evaluate what love means to them. As long as some effort is made in the ways you can (which you did!), it really isn’t a big deal. Christmas happens every year. This means much more about them than it means about you. 

Post # 13
1167 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

Kslim13 :  You need to stand up to her and say you and Darling Husband won’t be giving gifts. You don’t give, they don’t send you one in return. Be firm about it and stick to it. 

Post # 14
6736 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2016

Kslim13 :  Well, as I said above, I do have a child and I still think they’re being ridiculous about the timing of your nephew’s Christmas gifts. It’s not like because of you he had absolutely no presents on Christmas. They’re trying to guilt trip you because you are letting them! Don’t stand for it Bee. 

Post # 15
1891 posts
Buzzing bee

You just need stronger boundaries. Your mom tries to tell you who to buy for? Say, mom I am a grown woman with a family of my own. I will not have you telling me how to do Christmas or who to gift to. Then hang up. She keeps trying to talk about it? Repeat yourself and hang up if she won’t take your response for an answer. This is your life not hers. You can let her know that trying to force you to do what she wants results in a hangup, and a firm no. People treat you how you let them. You are capable of refusing to listen to her. You can control that. 

As for spending on Christmas, just figure out something to do each  year and make that your new standard. Whatever you feel comfortable doing. My family don’t exchange gifts with anyone they aren’t spending actual Christmas with in person. Even then we only do immediate family. If we have a family gathering the night before we do a white elephant/ yankee swap thing for fun which just means buying 1 gift to participate. 

I don’t know anyone who would be mad at someone not wanting to give gifts. If that was someone’s style then no problem. 


Kslim13 :  

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