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Old 07-07-2003, 01:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
rat
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Location: College Station, TX
A matter of etiquette

I find myself in a slight dilemma these days when it comes to my birthdays. Seeing as the next one (#20) comes on July 19th, I'm attempting to decide how to approach the process. I don't mind the family get-togethers that tend to waste at least a day of my life, and yes, I do mean waste when I say it. I've given up on making birthday lists, because like any child, I learned early on that the list is rarely fulfilled, and that brings disappointment. However, my family has an "eclectic" sense of appropriate for presents, and I usually return them if given a chance or simply discard/hide them. However, I feel like simply asking for money (despite needing it far more than a new wardrobe or books or such with the next semester looming close) is crass, ungrateful and unappreciative of their efforts. So do I pointedly say, "Give me money, because I'd rather choose the way it is spent" or simply smile and accept then return the gifts I'm given? I was raised very southern and very proper, so the first one seems distasteful but better than the second. I have 12 days till the old birthday, so I've gotta figure this out some time soon.
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Old 07-07-2003, 02:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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You could gently suggest gift certificates...that way you aren't getting cold hard cash but still retain the ability to pick exactly what you want within the financial limitations you've been given.

Truthfully....my gut instinct is to take what you get and smile and say thanks! lol....but I've never been one to create waves with people I care for so I'm not the best advice-giver here!!!!
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Old 07-07-2003, 03:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Just say you arent really sure what you want and suggest gift certificates or cash for when you find something.
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Old 07-07-2003, 03:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Location: Chicagoland
This sounds really corny, but how 'bout a rat's scholarship fund?

Just as newly married's accept cash gifts, couldn't the family do monetary gifts toward your school expenses?

And gift certificates are a great idea, as Minx mentioned.
I buy practical & fun gift certs for my son, who does not want presents. Jiffy Lube for his car, Blockbuster for fun, restaurants, etc.

Last edited by Double D; 07-07-2003 at 04:56 PM..
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Old 07-07-2003, 03:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Rat, don't take this at all personally. You seem like a nice person, but this is the latest in a string of questions like this I've heard/seen and I'm going to burst if I don't get this out.

I hate to turn this into a rant on our materialistic culture, but I find it disheartening that every occasion that used to be a meaningful ritual or mark a meaningful occasion has now just turned into an occasion to collect loot, so much so that we feel entitled to tell those who are generous enough to give us stuff exactly what to give us. Weddings used to be about declaring one's love and commitment in front of a community, not an excuse to invite 300 friends and family to finance your honeymoon because you can't afford it. Birthdays used to be about celebrating the very fact of your existence and that you didn't die this year. Gifts should be a happy side effect, the icing on the cake. The cake itself should be the love that people show you - you say the family get-togethers "waste" the day - the time will come when you will long for those people and regret the time you didn't spend appreciating them.

I understand the sentiment, however: gift-giving IS expected, and if they're going to spend money anyhow they should spend it on something I'll appreciate. I think your instincts about the crassness of asking for cash are appropriate. However, framed in the proper way, if someone asks you what you want, it would be perfectly appropriate to say "gosh, I'm just thinking about all those books I'll have to buy - some money for that would be more helpful than anything else if you really want to give me something." Otherwise, suck it up and give the unwanted loot to the Goodwill or something.
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Old 07-07-2003, 05:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Rat, I appreciate your dilemma. Two pieces of advice. It is all right to ask for what you want , but be gracious abt what you get. Some people really get their feelings hurt if you take back a gift.
At twenty you may feel like spending time with your family is wasting it, but believe me someday you will cherish that time and wish you had a lot more.
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Old 07-07-2003, 09:13 PM   #7 (permalink)
rat
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Thanks for the input guys, and I appreciate the different thoughts, but I do have some very concrete expenses that must be paid for me to even entertain returning to school. rent, car note, insurance, books, tuition, etc. and though gifts are nice, any money helps when it comes time to pay the bills.

Budah, you may have a point about cherishing the time I spend with my family, but for those outside of my father and sister, sending me a card and a gift on major holidays is what they consider to be "being a good aunt" or "being a great uncle." Yes, I do work every major holiday, but for someone not even to make a phone call and say "Come spend a weekend with us" when they live an hours' drive away, that's not effort. I always extend the offer to my cousin to come see me (the one cousin I have left ) whenever he gets a chance, but to no avail. And ours is not the type of family where you show up on the doorstep w/ a duffle bag and say "Got a spare weekend?" These people live no more than 60 miles from me, and phone calls and offering their time is too much, so yea, there are times when it really feels like a waste. My mom lives 20 miles away from me, but won't even pick up the phone to get in touch with her youngest son and spend some time with him. I'm tired of making the effort for people who don't care. My dad, who I see maybe three days a week despite living with him, always says "hey, let's go grab a movie" or "what're you doin _____ night? Well, if you can work me in, lets get dinner" and attempts to plan things. Outside of him, the family is a waste who think that seeing each other on holidays counts as staying in touch.
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Old 07-08-2003, 03:00 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Location: Australia, Perth
well the cliche/old saying is its the thought that counts. And sometimes i feel that money is a kind of cop out present, in that they're not really interested in yourself. I think it depends on your friends or the poeple you know. People who know you well enough, you should accept whatever they have to give you, but even more so, be grateful to share the experience with them, the poeple you care about
Although i am not too sure about the whole family thing....

like doubled said, but you should maybe start a fund or a charity...
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Old 07-08-2003, 11:06 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Repectfully ask that there be NO presents. Tell your family that the time you spend with them is really the gift you want. Say it like you mean it.

Anything you get, accept graciously. Then restate your assertion that the time together is more valuable to you than the lovely Pocket Fisherman you just received.
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