Discussion Topic

What to do with the Christmas gifts...

Posted on 10/09/13, 11:50 pm
This will be our fourth Christmas since the yuck started. I'm guessing that we won't have our es this Christmas either. I see no reason that we would. We haven't had our son with us for Christmas for 5 Christmases (including this year) because of our dil's family. They all 'have to' spend Christmas together because her parents' son (our dil's brother) that died 17 years ago...it was his favorite holiday. Ok.

In the beginning we had no idea all of this would last this long. So, we bought gifts. We explained to our es that we wanted to open them *with* her and him. We didn't care which day or where. They refused. They mailed their gifts to us. They live in town. It's a small town. We left the gifts up on a shelf. They still sit there. My dh thought we should just give all of the gifts away. I still keep hoping to open them with them....

I wonder how hard it is on the younger children to see them. To me, they've become part of my surroundings and I rarely think of them...

What do y'all think?
Showing 1 - 10 of 28 Replies
  • Reply #1 10/10/13  12:46am
    what is wrong with people? No respect for the ones who give them life and give them bitterness, and resentment, and stubbornness. Im sorry you have to go through this. Mail them with cards that say, time heals what can we do to heal, we love you.
  • Reply #2 10/10/13  4:21am
    I like Sarahsma's idea. I keep making things and picking up little things here and there and I keep them in a box in the closet,p in hopes that someday, maybe even this year. I know it's unlikely but if I give up hope I get lost in my grief.
  • Reply #3 10/10/13  9:32am
    ByHim4Him - Sarahsma has a great idea. As I was reading your post, my thoughts were that you need to get those gifts out of your house and move on. Sending them with a note, as Sarahsma suggested, is perfect.

    Then - look ahead, not back. I would not buy any more presents until there is a healing. I have never bought a present of any kind for my GD because I have never met her. When I get a chance to meet her, I plan to take her shopping and together we will buy her things from grandma. Why buy something for a 3-year-old if I don't meet her until she is, say 16? At age 16 she will want different gifts age-appropriate.

    If you or any of us feel the need to buy presents, thinking of our estranged GC, there are many needy children in our country who would love to receive presents.
  • Reply #4 10/10/13  12:15pm
    I grapple and wrestle with this same issue. I love coming here and getting food for thought.
  • Reply #5 10/11/13  2:56am
    I do like the idea... But, both mailing the gifts and saying "time heals" are... "sore points"?? in our relationship, so we can't do those. But, it might be a good idea to get the gifts to them in some way...? I'll talk to my dh about it.
  • Reply #6 10/11/13  9:04am

    Christmas is an especially tough holiday because it is the season of giving to those we love. Even the atheist will celebrate "The Holidays" with Santa as the focus. However, for us Christians it is the season when we know that our gift giving is a symbol of how our Savior came to earth as a child to give his life for us so that we may have the greatest gift of all - eternal life with Him. When we are prevented from doing what even non-Christian families do by rote, we are even more saddened. At Christmas time I stay away from the shopping centers, avoid TV as much as I can and find other things to do to keep busy. It is easier.

    You say that in the beginning you had no idea that it would last this long and so you bought gifts, so from what I gather from your post, is seems as if the estrangement began over ES and DIL not making time to exchange gifts with you and DH at your house after they got married. Is my assumption correct may I ask? If so, perhaps holding your ground may not have been the wisest move? Compromise should be the mainstay of the Christian so long as that compromise does not offend our God's command to put Him first. ~ Romans 12:18 "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

    What to do with the gifts? I agree with your DH. Give the gifts you bought for them to charity. But, I think sending the gifts that they bought for you and DH back to them would be too insulting to them and would only widen the gap in the estrangement if there is any contact with them at all at this time.

    When I am in a quandary about what the right thing Jesus would want me to do, if I stop and think about the Golden Rule, it usually answers my question pretty quickly...."Treat others the way you would like to be treated." I would be so hurt if my son sent back the gifts I had bought for them. In fact, we did have that happen in a slightly different way once. During a brief reprieve in estrangement, we had asked our son if he needed a dresser that we no longer wanted for our granddaughter. They jumped at the chance and so we loaded it up in our camper and took it to VA (a 500 mile trip) when we were going for a second counseling session with them. When we got there, DIL had changed her mind because she said the first session was too stressful for her. (She got called on her erroneous accusations against us is why it was "stressful" for her!) Anyway, after we had traveled the distance to be there for it, we were obviously upset that it was all for nothing and that we should have been told before we left. We begged them to meet with us but they held their ground and would not allow us to give the much need dresser to our granddaughter along with the other gifts we had brought down for her son from a previous marriage. The hurt was tremendous in addition to the mistreatment both from our son, our DIL and the Christian counselor as well that lied for them to us only because the counselor was a member of their church.

    In our situation, they had an obligation before God to meet with us to complete the prior agreed upon steps to bring lasting resolution to our estrangement and to do it truthfully. They held their ground for no legitimate reason and estrangement has continued now for an additional 5 years to make it 7 altogether. As I read scripture, holding ground should be for when God's laws have been violated and when we are asked to violate those laws. Christmas is a man-made Holiday along with Thanksgiving which was apparently prompted by a memorial drafted by local “bankers and business men on June 28, 1870, and was only a federal holiday at that time. http://www.senate.gov/reference/res...

    Shouldn't the goal to be always doing what is best to obtain peace?
  • Reply #7 10/11/13  9:38am
    Thank you Mom2Guel for that heartfelt post. I used to be so rigid about being "fair" on holidays (way before the estrangement). When we married I insisted we spend Christmas eve with husband's mother and Christmas day with my parents. T-day and Easter we switched every other year.

    But as you say, these holidays are man made. We never had any conflict with DIL on holidays because she quickly wrote us off and my ES sent a note saying he wanted no contact with us. But as I have aged, I realize time together is the most important, who cares what the date on the calendar says.

    Regarding the gifts, definitely donate them. What a good feeling knowing some other children of God will enjoy your gifts.
  • Reply #8 10/11/13  11:30am
    Thank you, Mom2Guel. No, that Christmas isn't what started the conflict. It happened May 30/April 1 earlier that year. During that time they were giving the appearance of a relationship to the public (her dad is the pastor we were members of at the time). We had asked our son (who wasn't married to our dil at the time, but was engaged to her) for them to meet with us for Christmas Day at some point. OR, if that wasn't something they wanted to do, any time any where to exchange gifts. They refused. We had said at the time... we want to open the gifts *with* you (in person), we'll wait until you're ready (Of course we thought that would be a short time). Well, the years passed and it never happened. But, at this point, it would be too awkward for both of us...? (I'm not even sure they realize (remember?) we have gifts for them) I don't see this as us 'standing our ground'. I see it as something that just happened. We had wanted to do it a certain way, we had said we'd wait... Then the wait just turned into something.... "different".

    Would it be helpful if I wrote our story down? Is that supposed to be done in the journal?

    I'm beginning to believe something needs to be done with the gifts... I just don't know what.
  • Reply #9 10/11/13  12:57pm
    ByHim....Thank you so much for the clarification. And yes, you and anyone else certainly can write your story down as a topic. It helps to get the broader picture.

    As far as the gifts goes, I still think it is better to not send them back for the reason I gave above - it will only add fuel to the fire. Since they had communicated to you that they would not meet with you to exchange gifts and had mailed their to you when they lived in the same town, then I would take that to mean they were still upset about the May30/April event that precipitated the estrangement.

    But what to do with them? I would say that there are several choices - keep them and open them up for yourselves, give them to charity, sell them on Craigslist, or give them to friends or neighbors, or have a yard sale.
  • Reply #10 10/11/13  2:56pm
    The last big flare-up of our DIL to us was in Sept. That Christmas we bought them gifts, wrapped the and laid them under the tree. I sent my ES a note telling him we had gifts for them under our tree whenever they had time to stop by. They never did, so after a month, I returned the gifts to the store (since I had the receipts) and we moved on (sadly).

    The following spring I bought my DIL a gift card to a spa and mailed it to her. Never a thank you. I found out that she "re-gifted" it to her step mom and the step mom used it 10 days after her birthday. When I found that out I sent step mom a note saying that although I was sad my DIL did not use the gift certificate herself, I was happy she gave it to step mom to use instead of just throwing it away. Step mom thought my ES and DIL spent all this money on her b'day for the spa certificate. She was surprised, huh?

    Ever since, no gifts to my ES or DIL or GD. I know I have a GD but have never met her so for all practical purposes, I have no GD. When she is old enough to look me up, I will take her shopping!


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