My oldest son (he's 11) asked the other day if he could send my MIL his Christmas wish list because she "always gets me knick knacks and I don't want knick knacky stuff." Of course, I was very proud to hear him say this, because I am not a knick knacky kind of gal and I can see I am successfully passing on that wonderful trait to at least one of my children. As soon as he said this, my brain immediately went on super fast rewind trying to recall if I had complained about this in the past and now he is taking advantage of it. Thinking...thinking...thinking...nope. I have not said this within earshot of him anytime in the not so distant past. I can't remember the last time I said I was tired of getting things that go in the trash as soon as my in-laws leave. And, yes, they have literally pulled out of the driveway and I have thrown some of our gifts in the trash. (Do you know, the Christmas Motorcycle Guy and I were engaged, she gave me some cleaner for cleaning French Corningware dishes? WTF? I love clothes, what about a gift card?) It has been a LONG time since I have complained out loud, I guess because I have gotten used to it.
So anyway, I thought my husband should handle this, so I said, "We will talk to dad when he gets home." Later that evening, I asked Big E to tell Motorcycle Guy what we had discussed. Big E told him and thankfully Motorcycle Guy agreed. He is going to call his mom and ask her if she would be interested in seeing and purchasing anything from Big E's wish list. And if she doesn't, then we will know to tell Big E she would like to pick out her own gifts for him. My husband thinks she will be more than willing. I have my doubts. She is one of those people who wants you to have what she wants you to have. She wants to talk to you only if it's something she is interested in talking about. One year Motorcycle Guy asked that she and his dad contribute to a larger gift we were saving for to buy our family. Her response? "Well, at least now I know what you want." What did we get? Crap that went into the trash. I think that was the year she bought us these really awful decorations and left that clearance tag of $1.99 on the box. (They do not have financial difficulties and this is not really about money.)
Now that I have whined and complained, here is my issue. At what point is it rude to let a person know what you would like to receive? I am someone who would rather get you something you want and know my money was well spent and the gift will be enjoyed than to buy something you have no desire for. I don't think she feels that way. Is it rude to "guide" her into getting the kids something they want or should we just keep throwing the gifts away? She had no hesitation in telling me what she wanted for Christmas. And I did get it for her.
I have mixed feelings about this. I do like to be surprised with gifts that I wasn't expecting. And I like to surprise others with gifts they weren't expecting, so I understand her desire to do this. And I think my kids like that, too. But someone has to know you really well to be able to pull this off succesfully. You have to be able to put yourself in the receiver's shoes and think about what THEY like, not what you like. And, in general, my MIL does not do this. Add to it she does not have very good taste. It all adds up to her wasting her money on my kids (and often, me and my husband). At what point has one crossed the line by asking the shopper/giver to review a wish list and make a purchase?