Something I read and something I saw in the past few hours spurred me on to this piece. An editorial of ‘breaking news’ on Babble about wedding gift acknowledgement and how my kids operate with Hub when I’m not around has really set off… not so much alarm bells as a radar on the look-out for BS.
This wedding gift one is a doozey.. seriously. http://www.babble.com/babble-voices/he-said-she-said/controversial-wedding-gift-sparks-text-war-and-ends-friendships/
It warrants psychoanalysis. The wedding receivers seem that far off the mark with what they expect to get and what they farmed out to the poor guy when he didn’t get it.
We’re half heartedly planning our wedding. I’m not really bothered by it but Hub is wildly more traditional (in the church, reception, first dance etc) more than likely from his uber traditional parents. I don’t need a ceremony and paper but I don’t mind doing it because Hub wants to, that’s all cool. During the thankless task of drawing up the guestlist, however, we have the mother of all stumbling blocks.
Our families DESPISE each other; loathing comes close.. so seating arrangements are hilarious in a decidedly non-funny way. His entire invite stack makes up maybe 10? 10 invites, 2 per because non of that end have kids and he has no intention of going into extended family because that is just how he rolls. So… 10.
I, on the other hand, can count a stack of invites well in excess of 70. I didn’t even think it would get that high. So that’s 160 people, of whom, the groom’s family will not sit anywhere near any of mine. Yes, we have friends to intersperse but it is so frustrating trying to not sit our friends miles away from each other just to cater for the fact that my mom can barely deign to look at his mom while his mom can very happily scream for a significant amount of hours on the fact that my parents aren’t divorced because they’re Catholic. Sigh.
Elopement, what? And I would! Heck, I have suggested the city registry so often with a pub to follow that I am even sick of it.
This finally brings me to my point on exchange and receipt.
My family, Mom’s side, dad’s side and both extended as well as the majority of my friends, think giving money, whether in cash or voucher form, ridiculously tacky. Well, voucher form less so. It’s the most major no-no across my entire sphere of blood relation. I think it’s tacky too but being semi broke, sometimes I would prefer it.
Hub’s family only gives money, like, exclusively. Santa is the only being who gives actual gifts. Which I think quite sad (in the sorrowful way), really. On my birthdays, I’d get maybe 4 or 5 big, brightly wrapped gifts. I don’t mean big literally, just in the ‘wow, pile o’ prezzies!’ kind of way. So I get to go through the process of opening and exclaiming and flicking through or whatever. My dad lives abroad, along with all his side so I do get the envelopes and birthday cards and they’re great!
But Hub, from his family anyway, up until a few years ago when I said it to his mom (and she promptly didn’t speak to me for 18 months) that money is worth so much less than the time spent, only got envelopes. Usually white, with not even an exceptional amount in and sometimes not even a card!
Again, I find this sad bordering on devastating. I do refuse to practice it in my own little family and still rarely do with my family at large. Hub didn’t really think of it the way I do until my first birthday while in our relationship and my family threw a party and there was a table literally loaded with gifts. Some in bags, others in boxes, others again in those fantastic mad-wrapped shapes, like when you try to wrap a ball and a book in the same paper. And Hub gave me roses (white ones, because he knew from the moment he met me that I didn’t like red!) and an envelope.
I have gone to a bucket of trouble to get gifts for his side and, disappointingly, Hub always turns them down. The few gifts I have managed to get through him have been more token, from the kids gifts. One that I got for his mom, she thanked me for and regifted back to me a few weeks later for Christmas. Sigh. I really dislike people like that. Not the regifting, but not keeping track. Unless she did it on purpose, which is entirely possible.
My kids have caught on, though, which is really cutting deep. It’s Red’s birthday soon, she’s going to be 4 and asked for a scooter and a baby-doll. That’s groovy, I told her to pick one, because in this house they get one toy and then practical stuff because of the bullshit amount of crap they come home with from my in-laws. Red chose the scooter. All cool. She then, it transpires, turned around and told my mother in law that Mommy won’t get her a doll or a camera or the new ‘Pink Shoes Barbie’.
I can deal with playing off, I did it as a kid; as a divorce kid it becomes a kind of lingo-currency. What bugs me is that Mother-in-law said to Hub, ‘Well, we’ll get her the scooter too since you’re not going to bother getting the things she wants.’ GGGGGGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH
Knife-twist in my rationale. What’s worse is that while we buy our kids good quality toys ON PRINCIPLE because I do not need cheap plastic crap falling to pieces at the slightest provocation, especially around a crawling, hoovering baby, That Side don’t. They’re all for the ‘working our way through Chinese factories of lesser quality and as a result quite ugly and dangerous toys.’
I am actually buying a back-up doll as well as the scooter because I know the doll she gets from them will be sub par. Now I sound awful but it harks back to what I mean by time-spent and QUALITY. Monetary quality or enjoyment quality or whatever. Invest and Reap or Throw and Scrape, it’s as simple as that.
Ahem, to finish, I value the time spent choosing, deciding, humming and hawing, fist clenching and lip biting; deliberating over something being presented. I love it, even if, eventually, it’s nothing more than a bookmark and some sparkly penmanship on a card. I love it.
I do not love heartless money. Look at where it has brought us as an economy, society and culture.
I hope that my children appreciate rather than expect; genuinely adore instead of false-smile and blanks eyes at; that they thank heartily rather than offer a quick ‘Cheers’.
On that note, thank you all so much for following my posts and reading my ramblings. It does mean so so so so so much to me. It took me a long while to work up guts to put this thing out there so, you are all seriously appreciated!