Ask Mollie: Christmas Gift Exchange Drag

Dear Mollie,

HELP!! I am dreading this year’s Christmas gift exchange.  My mother-in-law gives me the worst gifts. We have been married for four years now and we get stranger and stranger gifts each birthday and Christmas. One year I got an old sweater she had previously worn, then a rabbit fur muff (we were stationed in Florida, plus rabbit fur: GROSS!) and last year she re-gifted us the back massager we gave her last year to help with the pain while driving.

She has never liked me and I’ve killed myself trying to get her the perfect gift. Now I realize she just doesn’t care and it really hurts my feelings.  She doesn’t put any thought into our gifts and now we have a new baby and could use some things from our list.  So now I have to ask, do I still buy her a gift or just give up? How do I get through Christmas without being so mad at her?

— Lauren

Dear Lauren,

OMG, this is so much worse than getting a fruit cake for Christmas. At least when someone gives you a fruit cake, it’s an obvious “F” you. Any re-gifting by an in-law is way beyond passive aggressive, its nuts. But no worries, this is an easy fix.  Just wrap the back massager back up and give it to her again, because obviously it won’t matter to her.

Wait BETTER YET… what is something you’ve been dying to buy yourself, but never would? Maybe a Keurig? Buy her that, because the next time your birthday rolls around, you’ll probably be getting it back!

I hope you see the humor in this, because if you don’t, it will really drive you insane.

Not laughing yet? Ok, let me show you how to deal with this “Fruitcake” of a situation:

Change Your Perspective.

Make this situation work for you; see the craziness and laugh at it.  OWN the situation and expect the foolish gifts; instead of disappointment, laugh at them. Make bets on what the gift will be, maybe an expired ham, NADS hair removal, a hermit crab? If you do this you will start laughing instead of being angry.

Gifts are gifts. They are not always things you need and we shouldn’t expect people to fulfill our wish lists.  Christmas lists are for children, not adults. If she specifically asks if the baby needs anything, tell her a few reasonable items, but don’t count on it.

Lower Your Expectations.

Realize this is about her, not you. Sounds to me like you could give her the Hope diamond and it still won’t be good enough. I know a lot of mother in laws like this (she may have a serious character or personality problem). I would be willing to bet if your husband opened up about it, you’d discover that you are not the only one she treats poorly.

Unless you are giving out Prozac with a bow on top, you can’t fix her with a gift. So stop tying so hard to get her to like you, when she doesn’t take a moment to think of you in the same way. You’re just going to make yourself miserable.  I am not saying give her a bag of coal, just be thoughtful without expecting it to be reciprocated. That is the true meaning of giving a “gift”.

Create Your Own Memories:

Jon and I have a fun tradition, we make Christmas candy for friends each year and people go nuts! It’s fresh, personal, and people look forward to it every December. We enjoy making it, sharing the cheer, and people feel special that they are remembered.

So in the end, I think you should give your mother-in-law a sweet photo of her new grandbaby in a frame this year. It’s from the heart and so much more personal than an expensive gift from the Sky Mall catalog. Here’s a tip: engrave it, that way you might not get it back.

Merry Merry y’all!,

Mollie Gross

Do you have a question for Mollie you would like to ask? Click on the Ask Mollie section of our website to submit your question. We apologize in advance that Mollie cannot respond personally to every question. Selected entries will appear in the Ask Mollie section of the website. All submissions become the property of Mollie Gross.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply