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Gift giving should be an expression of love
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Dear Alma,
I have been married for 20 years, and we are a close-knit family, large in numbers. Our son is 18 years old. Every Christmas, I go all out for my mother in-law's gifts -- one from my husband and me and one from our son. I know it’s the season to give, but I have given and given and given. Earlier this year, my son asked me why I continue to buy grandmom gifts when she gives us nothing. I tried to play it off like he didn't know what he was talking about, so I said, “She gives you gifts.” He said, "Name one." I couldn't. So I decided to skip the gift giving this year. Should I warn the family in advance or should we just show up at dinner with empty hands and smiles on our faces?


Got a problem? Need advice? Alma is here to help. Her advice column is published each Friday on Qcitymetro.com. Email questions to askalma@qcitymetro.com. All names will be kept in strict confidence.

Wow, after 18 years your son mentions Grams never gave him a present and now no one is getting anything. Really!?

What is this about? Let's back up a minute, because gift giving is where I'd like to start. When your son asked about presents from his grandmother, you had a teachable moment on your hands. You could have explained how we make sacrifices for others. It was your opportunity to teach him about giving. You should have discussed how a person should never give a gift to get a gift. That was your moment to explain when we give from the heart, for the sake of giving, we are expressing a kind act to others.

We all should teach our children that grandparents are a blessing and we want at every chance we get to do something nice for them. They've lived long lives and deserve our best. When Grams makes lunch or dinner because we're hungry, that's a gift. When she picks you up after school or babysits you to help your parents, that's a gift.

Tell your son his grandmother doesn't owe him a Christmas present. The love you receive from her is priceless. The same applies teachers, your pastor, the neighbor down the street.

Now, on to your question: Should you warn the family?

Warn them about what? They'll see you don't have any gifts when you walk through the door. That will be a big enough announcement.

Double check yourself and take inventory about why you were giving in the first place. Seems to be more to this story then meets the eye.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. I know it's politically correct to say “Happy Holidays,” but I'm a “Merry Christmas” girl. Give your mother in-law a holiday hug from me. And make your son do it, too.

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October 9, 2015
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