Spending time with Friends and family at christmas, the best jolly time of the year right? Where family, fun, friends, food and presents merge into a joyous often alcohol fuelled concord of sorts? Such a great event isn’t it? Wonderful stuff…magnificently beautiful, fabulous time..great! ….the birth of Jesus Christ! it’s for the kids! they say, Christmas is for the kids!
Ah, well, for me, it neither was only about the baby saviour, nor about the kids. For me there was also that empowering, abuse-prone and incredibly convenient knowledge that members of one’s family don’t always keep grudges against you. Which can mean if you missed buying them a present this year, it was okay most times and you can always buy them one next year.
So, on christmas eve, I found myself sat at home in the living room enjoying hot chocolate, mulled wine and nibbles in the company of family, as most people in the western world do at christmas, watching an episode of You’ve been framed. Dinner was almost ready, with the kitchen bustling with activity. The Chicken (we prefer that to Turkey) was slowly roasting away in the oven – with richly seductive aromas vigorously colonising the warm hearty atmosphere; Rice, carrots, bean curry and juicy Parsnips were sat on pots about the hob – waiting to be devoured; A Walnut cake sat besides the double cream in the fridge, and adjacent the Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough in the freezer compartment above, all awaiting an amalgamation into a gourmet dessert which would make Auguste Escoffier swoon.
But unlike the heavy 3 course dinner awaiting us, the discussion wasn’t as lovely.
We are talking the often complicated dynamics that drive the motivation for gifting.
So, say someone in your household (hereafter the ‘householdee’) found themself in the slightly embarrassing scenario where they went to a distant relative’s house, to give them their christmas gifts, only to find the not so distant sister of the distant relative. And her daughters. For whom no gifts were immediately at hand :-). And say the not so distant sister had the nerve / cheek to highlight this obviously uncomfortable fact to the householdee, that went something like “Why do you only come to big sister (sister A) to see her and give her gifts, and not to my house (sister B’s), and my children (sister B’s children). Last year and the year before that were the same?”
Awkward. I mean AWKWARD, no I actually mean AWKWARD!
How does one even begin to dig themselves out of a hole that deep, sticky and slippery; without being rude or hypocritical, while maintaining cordial relations and a level of self-respect, in front of both sisters?
Especially when the reason behind the obvious favouritism, however bizarre it may sound, is somewhat calculated?
Let me explain. According to the householdee, sister A above is a single parent and has 2 kids (well, they are both over 18, so they are not really kids) and it follows that such a state means she “requires more support, whereas sister B is a married woman who works full-time and has a husband who also works full-time”, and so apparently, it naturally follows that sister B won’t complain terribly, if no gifts are presented to her or her children at Christmas year after year, since she and her husband can help each other sort the gifting, unlike sister A who has to do it all alone.
But does sister B understand this unstated assumption? Without insulting her intelligence, does she even know that this is the householdee’s angle in her gifting mechanics? Or is this fact obvious?
I’m not exactly dumb, but it wasn’t obvious to me. I didn’t previously think much about this yearly gifting exercise before this confrontation (even though i knew of the householdee yearly Christmas gifts to sister A), so it is quite likely that sister B has no idea of the exact motivation for the partiality!
But even if she did, surely if she didn’t so much as care about the favouritism, she probably wouldn’t have flagged it up? But by the very fact that she spoke up means that maybe she is genuinely troubled by the bias?
Anyway, I hope we all had a merry christmas, lovely gifts and all, and take this opportunity to wish you all a happy new Year!
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