An Xmas gift reaction.

A lot could change judgments about this depending on a lot of contextual details but, in general, given the following scenario, can you understand (or at least see as understandable) the wife’s reaction?

The scenario is: A family receives from the father’s family a Christmas gift, on December 14th let’s say (don’t look too closely at that posting date!), of a $400 gift certificate to Kohl’s, along with a note (and no cards) saying “please use this to buy gifts for your children.” (The number of the counting of the children is: four.)

On seeing this, having looked at Kohl’s website, the mother of the family in receipt of the card begins crying and says she is very angry.

The reasons for the anger are:

  1. No heads-up so she can prep for buying stuff, either at the store or delivered online, and wrapping it etc

  2. No cards for the kids

  3. The kids do not need clothes, and the family was not asked if they need clothes, so if the card is used for clothes, it will be either later (and so, fewer gifts under the tree) or now but bought for the future, which of course does not particularly excite children.

  4. The toy selection at the website is full of stuff that is either boring and overpriced or boring and cheap. None of it is anything the kids have registered any kind of interest in. (Like, for example, this ninety dollar remote controlled rolling dinosaur thing, is pretty typical of the selection.

  5. Any good reason for buying a Kohl’s gift certificate is a better reason to buy a more general cash card or Amazon gift certificate

  6. This feels like a last minute, thoughtless ‘throw money at them’ gift, part of a pattern of such behavior on the part of said grandparents.

I tend to sympathize with the mom in this scenario, but others do not. What do you think?

I’m sorry, but I don’t sympathize with the mom. I mean, if she were rolling her eyes a bit, that’d be one thing–but “very angry” to the point of tears?


Here’s what you do: make a card for each kid telling them that Gramps and Gramma have given them $100 to spend however they like at Kohl’s. Show them how to fill a shopping cart on the website, or visit the store in-person. Let them get whatever bizarre and weird bullshit they want.

Yeah, I think the grandparents are fucking off on their gift-giving responsibilities. I don’t know them, so I don’t presume to know why. But I think this can be turned into a fine occasion for the kids without too much work.

Its unfortunate that the grandparents didn’t include a gift card for therapy for the mom.

Last time I checked $400 is a lot of money. Sure, we all get gifts that aren’t appropriate or to our liking. But it is a gift! Someone thought of you.

But anger?

I think we are missing some of the story.

I’m afraid I don’t sympathize with the mom. It’s a very generous gift, even if it’s not what they really wanted. Many grandparents give one gift to their grandchildren, so the mom could buy one gift and save the rest for summer clothes and toys or school clothes next year, while telling the grandparents that it was so generous that she didn’t want to buy so much right now since the parents and perhaps Santa were already giving gifts.

It’s not a store I go to very much, and it would take me a very long time to figure out how to spend $400 there, but it’s a gift.

I think that the mother ought to be grateful for the gift and shut the hell up.

No one in my family has ever, in my entire life, received from or given a card to grandparents on Christmas. Cards came from friends and more distant relatives. So I don’t see the butthurt in that. I agree that Kohl’s wouldn’t be my choice for kids’ Xmas gifts, but I like Left Hand of Dorkness’s idea about letting the kids spend it themselves on whatever they want. It could be both fun and educational.

Oh man I gotta say, cards are a Big. Fucking. Deal. To the mom in question.

She has literally every card that was given to her, and each kid has literally every card that was ever given to them stored in four separate boxes.

I figure she can’t be the only person to whom such things are important. I admit I’m certainly not one of them… :wink:

It’s $400, and in my family at least, that would be considered a kingly gift.

And there’s no reason you necessary need to spend it specifically on the kids; use that money for anything you want or need from Kohl’s (or use it to get gifts for others who would appreciate a gift from Kohl’s more than your kids), then take the money you saved to buy the kids something they actually want and tell them it’s from their [grandparents? or whoever]. You may even come out ahead on this one (I’m sure that’s not part of it, but hey, coming out ahead is never a bad thing IMO).

Cut the grandparents some slack. It can be difficult to shop for children when you’re not their parents. Gift certificates are an easy way to ensure they’ll end up with something they want (or something their parents will want them to have).

Yes, the grandparents placed an unexpected burden on the mother. But buying gifts for your children with somebody else’s money hardly justifies the response the OP described. It’s pretty obvious there are a lot of other issues here.

She needs to accept that cards may not be as important to other people as they are to her.

This is exactly what I would have written. Especially the part about letting the kids buy whatever they want. Teen girl wants $100 shoes…go for it. Pre-teen boy wants $100 worth of video games…they’re all his. Christmas presents from grandparents are meant to be fun.

I’ll side with the mom in question. The holidays stress me out and to have a task like this - buy gifts from person A to persons B-D from a crappy store that I never voluntarily go to - would piss me off. #1 problem - the gift shows no consideration of the recipients. It’s the thought that counts, and there’s no thought here. #2 problem is the adding of yet another thankless task to an already overwhelming list.

If my in-laws pulled this stunt, I’d be in tears, too.

this is why I hate this time of year. people flip their shit obsessing over whether or not they’ve “spent” enough on everyone. Or that they didn’t get enough. In my immediate circle I’m probably the most (or second most) well-off, and I don’t really want for anything. yet when December rolls around, people who really could use their money for their own purposes get all bent out of shape because they’re afraid they didn’t buy enough for me.

as far as I’m concerned, Christmas should be more or less like Easter and Thanksgiving. A reason to get together for a day or two, with good meals. I’m from (mostly) Eastern European heritage, and one of the things I actually like about this time of year is being tasked with getting everyone’s holiday sausage. My grandfather used to do it, then my uncle did it, now I’m the one going down to Hamtramck and walking out with pounds of kiełbasa krajana.

That’s the part I like. This “BUY ALL THE THINGS” crap can die in a fire.

I think the mother is off her freaking rocker- not her preferred store I understand but jesus, it’s $400. The kids are never going to need/want clothes? Fewer packages under the tree? Get real.

She should sell the gift cards for cash and buy a copy of the original Grinch movie. Maybe learn a lesson from it. Better yet, Tell the kids what the grandparents did and see if they want to each donate $25 of their gift card to shop for some underprivileged kids for Xmas and spread the love a bit.

Cut the grandparents some slack like the others said. THERE IS NO CRYING FOR $400 GIFT CARDS to anywhere and Mom is way out of line for that. Kohl’s isn’t my kind of store either but, the last time someone gave me a much more modest gift card to buy anything I wanted there, I quickly realized that they had almost anything you could want at fairly reasonable prices and, if you couldn’t find anything you liked, it was your own fault.

Seriously, it is an old school department store just like the grandparents grew up with and that is what they know. I wouldn’t expect grandparents to know that their grandchildren prefer iTunes or GameStop cards. I know my own kids quite well and I still can’t figure out what to get them this Christmas because their preferences change every week. One of the last decent general department stores seems as good a bet as any.

I am always thrilled with gift cards to Target and Wal-Mart and my daughters are too. If you can’t find a single thing you like in a store that big, that means that you lead an unusually exclusive life.

I mean just to be clear, everyone understands, right, that the mom did not (and for the record would never) say anything to the grandparents about this…

People who are angrily characterizing her as ungrateful seem to be forgetting that gratefulness is as much a behavior as a feeling.

But that aside, anyway, yeah, while I kind of sympathize along the lines of what BetsQ said above, I’m also personally more of a “roll with it” kind of personality so I sympathize, but don’t quite get it. Was hoping others might get it and explain it. :wink:

As a kid, I disliked getting clothes for Christmas.

But in retrospect, I think it’s because the clothes were always things I wouldn’t have picked out for myself. Hell, my mother still gives me hideous clothes for Christmas. I don’t shop at Steinmart, but I really wish she’d just buy me a gift card there as long as she insists on doing all her Christmas shopping there. Maybe then I could get something not quite so pleathery or bedazzled.

So your wife needs to calm the freak down. This gift gives the kids a chance to do something they don’t get a chance to do that often–shop for themselves. And ya’ll don’t know what your kids might like in that store.

I wish I were the type of person who could spend $400 just to piss someone off, because that’s what it sounds like to me. Tossing a store specific gift card at some one with instructions to do your shopping for you is never generous, even if it is extravagant.

However, if this is pattern of behavior, why isn’t mom handing the card off to dad, “Your parents, your problem”, instead of getting upset?

And she’s behaving un-gratefully.

Kohl’s wouldn’t be my choice either, but this thread is full of great ideas on how to deal with it - especially BoBettie’s idea of donating some of it.

If your wife is so stressed out that she can’t deal with a $400 gift card , she needs to drop some things off her to-do list.

Either way, the obvious solution is to deal with it after the holiday. If she’s so worried about having gifts under the tree, she can just print 4 “gift certificates” put them each on a box, and wrap them up. Or better yet, you do,it. It would take no more than 10 minutes.

The card thing? She needs to grow up.