Christmas Gifts

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Christmas Gifts

Post by rubycrownedkinglet » Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:10 pm

For those of you that are newer to this forum, my DH and I cut off the ones that were left of his adopted family 8 years ago and never regretted it. In the mean time, through DNA research, we located DH's biological family and found that he had a half sister. After thinking about it a year, he decided to reach out to her to see if she wanted to meet him.

We all hit it off immediately and became very close and still remain so today. DH and NewSIL are actually having coffee together right now. We enjoy their company very much, enough that we moved over a thousand miles to be near them. We have dinner with their family a time or two each week and spend the holidays together. NewSIL has a large family (8kids) with two teens and a tween still at home.

We hosted them for the summer when their house was found to have had a leak and mold and they had to move out with nowhere else to go. We all lived together mostly peacefully, but it was very loud and boisterous when their oldest daughter joined us with her 3 girls under 10. That added up to 10 house guests! They found a temp place for all of them and moved out in August.

ODN, joined the party because unbeknownst to anyone, had been suffering a horrible marriage with a narc of the first order. NewSIL and the other kids showed up at her home as a surprise and found out how unhappy she was. She had been isolated and so berated that she was depressed and alone. She had no friends because he didn't allow it. He was giving her $80 per month for food for herself and the kids. She was on food stamps to make ends meet while he was out eating with his friends and his older children from a previous marriage. ODN decided to leave him and move back in with NewSIL and BIL.

Needless to say, divorcing a narc is quite a dicey venture and he is making it a living hell, forcing her to drive the 5 hours biweekly to bring the children to have visitation with him. Now he is refusing to pay for her hotel to stay the nights or for gas to make the trip. Yet she is on the hook to meet the visitation agreement. NewSIL and her DH have run out of savings from helping her.

DH and I found out that because of the mold, all the family's winter clothes had to be discarded and they had no coats. Under the guise of "early Christmas" we paid for new coats and boots for them for the winter. Now Christmas is coming and I just can't show up Christmas morning with no gifts for the kids. Also, ODN is on the ropes when it comes to money, having just weaned the baby and although she has just gotten a new from-home job, there are going to be big legal bills and travel costs coming up.

In the past, we stepped up many times to help DHs adopted family get by. Then, later we found out that we were being played for suckers most of the time. We really regretted all of it. DH and I swore: Never again.

We are at a crossroads of deciding how much we should help. We aren't rich but we definitely are better off than they are. I am very generous by nature, but I carry the scars of our previous dealings with the adopted ILs. DH feels the same way and neither of us wants to make the same mistakes.

Any words of advice would be appreciated.

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Re: Christmas Gifts

Post by miwako » Sat Dec 07, 2019 3:10 pm

As far as Christmas goes, my first thought is to make cookies. You can wrap them in little gift bags for the kids if you want, and that way you're not empty handed, but not bankrolling the whole thing either.

I can totally see why you feel once bitten twice shy about any sort of financial assistance. From what you've said they sound different. It's one thing to work and take care of yourself and have an accident, emergency or whatever that destroys your stuff and need to suddenly replace a lot of things, and another thing to refuse to work your whole life and subsist by screaming at people to give you money.

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Re: Christmas Gifts

Post by KeeperOfPrecious » Sun Dec 08, 2019 12:51 pm

Continue to go with your heart. Since you’ve been bitten before, you know the signs. Do enough that if you’re screwed over, it didn’t hit you hard financially. It doesn’t sound like you need to worry about it in this case.

We have opted to do nothing this year. We told all family in advance that this year we aren’t contributing to anything. Nobody needs to know our reasons, we just made it clear that we are taking a break this year. Maybe you can give a heads up that this year you and the hubs are planning, XY instead of XY and Z...

Maybe have a gingerbread house party... supply the houses and icing, and have other family over with all the goodies to decorate.

The devil himself is impressed with her handiwork.

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Re: Christmas Gifts

Post by Melody » Sun Dec 08, 2019 2:10 pm

DH and you have been through quite the whirlwind and have demonstrated that truth IS stranger than fiction! Of course you are wary of being taken advantage of.

On the other hand, when you generously hosted 10 guest for an entire summer you are all still miraculously on good terms. That is amazing! There has to be a real connection there (as well as appreciation).

So this is a tricky question! You have already helped your (DH's) new family out in very practical and I'm sure very appreciated ways. IF you want to do more (and by all means, no need, you could always celebrate a quiet holiday with DH or go on a trip - you already had the holidays well covered) .

But IF you want to do more gift giving, focus on the kids. I don't know their ages, but if if you have an AC Moore close to you - raid it! They are closing and have great sales on crafts and games! (I did this for my sister's kids - I let her know and she thought it as a great idea), and crafts are great for when there is limited space.

Gift cards would be very appreciated - maybe for an experience a little out of their reach - like the movie theater, a local fun attraction, or something very practical like a Target gift card, so if oldest daughter is in truly dire straits, she can buy groceries or medicine without embarrassment. Just a thought.

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Re: Christmas Gifts

Post by SonOutLaw » Sun Dec 08, 2019 7:35 pm

I agree with what others have said. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I'm generous with friends and family as well, but when that is not reciprocated (not in terms of money, but the generosity of spirit) I would be more inclined to send a nice hand made a gift (cookies in a tin, picture, etc).

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Re: Christmas Gifts

Post by rubycrownedkinglet » Mon Dec 16, 2019 9:41 am

Thanks, everybody. It's so good to be able to run these dilemmas past people who have been there and done that. I can't imagine a Christmas with no gifts to make or wrap because I realize I am the one that really enjoys that part the most. To me, that IS Christmas. Sooo, I just wrapped some things yesterday and put them under our tree.

We kept things simple, like comfy throws from Costco for the teens, fuzzy house socks from CVS, mostly free with rewards, and Frozen 2 bubble bath and PJs for the baby. I will bake some cookies and make some pumpkin bread with the last of the makings I already have.

The only place we splurged a little is we got a board game for each of the younger kids because they lost their games to the mold fiasco so we thought it would be the gift that keeps on giving. New SIL and BIL are really fun and we do sometimes just lose track of time while we are all hanging out, so the kids sometimes get bored. I got some nice folding chairs that can be extra dining room chairs or moved down into the finished basement around our round table, perfect for games. We'll just invite them to bring their games when they are coming over.

DH decided to give DNIL some cash for gas and she graciously accepted it. The court forced Narc to meet her halfway to get the kids from now on, so she doesn't have to pay for a hotel any more. I'd have to start a whole new thread to tell that story. Maybe later.

The NewILs have very limited resources but are the most generous people with what they have. I have to remind myself to not compare them to the horrible :twisted: ILs that I am blessed to have no more. I also have to remind myself-and my DH-that our generosity to the NewILs, as long as we don't go overboard and make them feel weird, will be welcomed, appreciated and reciprocated as best they can.

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Re: Christmas Gifts

Post by willthetruthbetold » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:42 am

I'm weighing in on this kind of late, but wanted to say that looking back on my experiences with extended family, I remember how I felt, not necessarily what they gave me. I had serious aunts, nice aunts, mean aunts and fun aunts.... and the best memories were how they all (even the mean one, to some extent) made me feel like I belonged, that they cared for me, they listened to me and included me.
Like you, RubyCrownedKinglet, I've been taken advantage of by awful ILs who had their hands out and their hearts closed. Giving to them felt more like I was robbed than anything else since they weren't grateful. When DH and I gave MIL and FIL an expensive import luxury car, the first thing that FIL said wasn't "thank you," it was "Now I have a nicer car that (DH) does!" Golden SIL complained incessantly that she and her husband/my pervert BIL had no money so after one particularly good financial year, DH and I gave them a hefty check that should have put them on track to get their finances in order. Instead, GSIL and pervert-BIL spent it on some conspicuous things for the outside of their house. DH and I didn't get a "thank you" for that, either, just a smug GSIL saying "Our house has XYZ in the yard, and it's bigger than yours!" They still owed a fortune in credit card debt, but it was my feeling that they expected DH and I to write them similar checks every year. Forget that! DH and I felt so used that we never did that again.
I like what you did, RubyCrownedKinglet. It would be a nice family tradition to do cookies, hot chocolate and games every year. I sure wish that I had lived closer to my extended relatives when I was younger and had such memories that you are making for yours. They should understand that you aren't going to be shelling out money and expensive gifts, you are giving of your time and attention. You will have good times and those are priceless. You've already been more than generous to your DH's crazy ILs, now it's time to enjoy the good ones!

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Re: Christmas Gifts

Post by PutMILinherplace » Fri Jan 03, 2020 4:55 pm

A little late on the reply Sorry. Got a lot going on.

MANY MANY years ago when my kids were still very young, we stopped the whole gift buying thing. My kids made an ornament every year from a different material. One year was a duct tape rose, one year was made from origami, one year we did paint in a glass ball, you get the idea. (we have friends and family who now have a collection of them since this is the 15th year we have done this) We also do a variation of the gift jar. We put the dry ingredients in a zip lock bag. Then put it in a white lunch bag that the children have decorated. We had two relatives turn their noses up at it. Guess what? that was the last year they ever got anything. Only one was foolish enough to ask the next year where their gift was. I told them, "you made it clear that the homemade gift was not good enough for you so we aren't going to bother with ungrateful people." You can imagine the shock but I am not playing that game.

We are at a crossroads of deciding how much we should help. We aren't rich but we definitely are better off than they are. I am very generous by nature, but I carry the scars of our previous dealings with the adopted ILs. DH feels the same way and neither of us wants to make the same mistakes.
You have been very wonderful and giving. But you have learned those people were ungrateful or you were enabling them. Live and learn.

Honestly, I wouldnt bother anymore. Give your time, energy and love to those you know really need it and really want it. No more money. If you feel the need to give money away...I will give you my address. Just kidding...unless you are serious. :wink: Give donations to charities you KNOW for a fact use the money wisely. Dont give money out anymore. If they are cold then buy a coat, hungry then buy food , need gas meet them at a gas station. Dont give help to those who are ungrateful. Give to those who truly need it and are grateful for it.

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