Dear Annie: I visited my son and his family overseas for two weeks in December this year but left on Dec. 17, so I wasn’t there for Christmas. Because I seldom get to give them birthday or Christmas gifts in person, I spent a lot of time, thought and money on gifts for my three grandchildren and was very excited to give these gifts and to enjoy their excitement. I felt (and still feel) very sad, frustrated and hurt when my daughter-in-law refused to let the children open their gifts until Christmas Day.
The reasons she gave were that the children – ages 3, 6 and 9, bright and well-adjusted – would wonder why they didn’t get a gift from me on Christmas Day and that she doesn’t want them to get too wound up before Christmas. I also did not get to open the gifts they made for me while I was with them. I appealed to my son and his wife several times to reconsider but didn’t press the issue because it would have caused tension for the rest of my visit.
Was this rude of them, or am I overreacting? – Sad and Somewhat Angry Granny
Dear Sad Granny: I’m not sure if it was rude of the parents so much as it was controlling. Part of the joy in giving gifts is to see the reaction of the people you love. This is especially true if they live overseas and you don’t get to see them much. I’m not sure why you couldn’t open the gifts they made for you either. If they were made for you, then you should be able to open them anytime and express your gratitude to your grandchildren. Share with your son and daughter-in-law how much it means to you to open gifts face to face. Perhaps they aren’t big gift-givers and don’t understand the importance for you. And the next time you visit them all, just say that you are bringing your grandchildren presents – no special occasion required.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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