The Naked Truth column: To gift or not to gift?
VAIL CO, Colorado
How do I tactfully stop giving Christmas gifts to my brother’s family? They are out of state, so I never see them, however, I have been sending gifts and money to their three kids for years. Money is getting tight and the kids never say thank you anyway, so I am feeling like it’s time to quit. Is there a way to end the giving gracefully or am I in for hurt feelings and anger if I suddenly quit the giving?
Oy vey. You just opened a can of worms. There are two kinds of people in the nightmare of Christmas: the ones who would give their left kidney wrapped in a bow, and the ones who beat up the next Wal-Mart shopper for the last Tickle Me Elmo. You, my friend, are the organ donor. The gift of giving has been so twisted in today’s society and has turned its ugly head to sometimes make family matters worse. You can’t pick your family.
This is a case of sibling estrangement and you feeling obligated to hold up the majority of connection by continuing to be the bigger, better person. No matter the relationship, whether friends, spouses or lovers, there is that need and want to be treated just the same as we treat others. When the giver has that personal satisfaction of making their loved ones happy and fulfilled, it becomes routine to consider their happiness before your own time and again. But then we start to feel animosity growing. Resentment builds while we realize that the givee could give a damn and your sentiments and offerings remain unnoticed. Then the anger. They aren’t maintaining their responsibility to balance the harmony. You are drained, hence you want to throw in the towel. The only way to be good to others comes directly from being good to yourself first. This is key to any healthy mind frame when dealing with the ones you are bonded to. You say money is tight? Then it has to be stretched to satisfy your primary needs. Got some cash leftover? Go on and treat yourself for a change! Then, and only then, treat the ones around you who you are closest with and mainly those who do their best to return your thoughtfulness. We may not ever receive the exact personal touch we give, but I find kindness spreads like wildfire after even simple gestures, like a gentleman who opens a door for a lady or a bus passenger who offers his seat on a crowded bus.
This is tricky and must be done gently, yet firmly and with absolutely NO emotion involved. The only thing you are in for is a boost of self gratification. Look at it for what it is. Those kids are learning by example. Get closure with your brother by stopping the money, stopping the packages and just send a Christmas card to the whole family, maybe with a picture enclosed. That way you are not totally giving up on them and yet making a bold statement.
We are a dying breed in this world but don’t lose sight of what matter most: You.
Perrine Vogt has been a local resident off and on for 10 years. She now resides in Eagle-Vail. Have a question for her? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.