30 June 2009


We had an eventful weekend. There is much to say. So much that I don't know where or how to say it. I'm feeling blocked again, although I don't know by what. The impending move, perhaps? Dunno.

In the world of Official Officialness, Maddie and Riley are three. They had a party, they got bikes, it's real. The party was a low-key-to-be affair, with some family and some friends, just a brunch gathering at my mom and stepdad's house. I guess in the realm of kid birthdays, it was pretty sedate. There were no bouncy houses, there was no character theme. The cupcakes were homemade.

All of that was well and good, but there was one bit, a big bit, so more than a bit, that threw me for a loop: the gifts. No one went overboard, but there were still many, many gifts. Maddie and Riley knew there would be gifts and had been asking me incessantly in the days leading up to the event, "Mama, we gonna get presents on our birthday? Mama, there gonna be gifts?" The kids could not wait to start tearing off paper. Cards were snubbed, and the gifts themselves barely given a second glance before the next wrapped box was clawed, ripped, ravaged. Forget saying thank you.

Yes, it's the age. But I find it very uncomfortable, irritating, and embarrassing. I realize that this is my problem; I'm not good at giving or receiving gifts, and I also loathe consumer culture in general. It troubles me that Maddie and Riley want things, so many things, anything, in fact. They just WANT STUFF. The quality and condition of the stuff does not matter to them, they just have this inherent desire to possess things, which they often cherish for no longer than a few moments before discarding them and moving on.

I buy very little for Maddie and Riley. Why bother when they are content with rocks and sticks, bubble wrap and cardboard boxes. It's not that I don't want them to have toys, but I don't want them to think that we buy anything we want or that getting gifts is what holidays and events are all about.

I'm such a Scrooge. It's only gotten worse since John died. I used to take a certain pride in finding the perfect gift for someone; now it feels like a chore. John's death sucked the little joy I got from gifting right out of it. As a result, I've stopped, and I'm not shy about blaming it on widowhood. Pulling the widow card is not something I take lightly, but when it comes to gifting, I do it frequently. Even on occasions such as birthdays, when it is a social expectation that one will come bearing a token, I just show up empty-handed. It's rude, and I know it, but I can't seem to stop. Gifting is very tiring.

It's all especially rude in light of the fact that I've been the recipient of countless gifts since John died. I've received tangible gifts and the intangible gifts of love, support, and time. It's all meant a lot to me, but it hasn't yet inspired me to start giving back. I hope someday it will.

Maddie and Riley and I have been enjoying their new toys together. It was a good birthday, but a reminder of what a strange journey grief can be, and how grief comes out in unexpected and sometimes inappropriate ways.


Anonymous said...

Put "no gifts please" on the invite next year. Ask family to take them out for ice cream or to the park for a "date". If gifts are given save them for later - allowing them to open one per week. Send thank you's - handmade drawings made by the kids right after the party. Later call the person when their gift is opened to say who much the kids are enjoying the ____.
Heading to Portland next week. Looking forward to fresher, cooler air, new food, visit with BIL, etc.
If we pass the DOT I'll look for you in the sheer dress I recommended earlier. Good luck with that!
Amanda in ATL

Karishma said...

y'know, you're grieving, and i think everyone should be able to understand that in your grief, gifting just isn't something you're able to deal with. and that's fine, i mean, honestly, with everything you've had to juggle.

and the kids and gifts? eh. live and let be. they'll learn the true significance of holidays in time, but nearly everyone loves to get 'stuff,' and if adults can't get over that consumerism, it'll be nearly impossible for kids to understand it. only problem is when it gets out of hand and kids never actually end up learning what the holidays and events are about but at their age? i doubt abstract thought and intangible significance of days really means anything to them. they like the gifts because they can see them.

Anonymous said...

You need to lighten up and get some badly needed perspective. First of all, let your kids be kids. Secondly, accept that many other people have tragedies or problems in their lives, and still manage to be consider of and generous with other people. At some point, it isn't the widow card; it's just cheap and plain disrespectful.

Susan said...

Hmmm, this might be a "heavy" topic considering how one Anon above answered. I don't know Snick. It is one of those things that is hard to answer when we all walk different shoes of life. I did have a hard time with the amount of gifts when my guys were little. I finally asked grandparents to get one gift and then start a bank account/bond whatever for future college. Kids get way too much today and thus are not content with one toy. As far as gift giving....I don't know. I do enjoy gift giving even if it is homemade. Hopefully you will enjoy it again one day!

SmileyGirl said...

Let's just ignore the last anonymous comment. If you haven't been there you really don't know. I haven't personally but my Mom went through it when we were young with my Dad and yes widowhood does suck the life out of you for a while. You will get it back when it's time. Don't stress. Try not to worry about the kiddos though - they will follow your lead as they grow older and are able to make some decisions on their own. For now, let them enjoy the fun and the new toys. The rocks and sticks will always be their fallback and the most fun anyway. As for the widow card - pull it anytime you need it. Cuz you earned it, unfortunately, but you did earn it and it is your right. And anyone that thinks that's a cop out hasn't walked a mile in your shoes. We are all different and we all think, learn, grieve and exist differently. Hugs to you and I hope you are enjoying your new job and location. It's nice to hear that you are near family.

Jess said...

FWIW, I don't think its disrespectful to show up without a gift. I tend to think it is disrespectful of people to EXPECT gifts. Your friendship, love, support, and willingness to come celebrate with them is a gift...why do you have to bring them something to augment that? And why would it be "better" to bring ANYTHING - even something they DON'T EVEN WANT - than to show up empty handed. It doesn't make sense, and I think (hope) its possible to opt out of that in a graceful manner. There are a multitude of ways to make people feel loved...bringing a material present is only one of them.

Morgan said...

Personally, I think everything you're saying is completely normal. It's normal for you not to want to buy your kids lots of stuff and want them to be more grateful. (I feel the exact same way!) And, it's normal for you, after having lost your husband, to be dealing with what you are with the whole gift thing. If I knew you in real life I would have mass amounts of grace for you and just be glad that you were there to share in my day. And, I'm guessing that every single one of your friends and family feel that way.

Dr. Smak said...

I think grief/stress/tragedy brings out the true tendencies in a person...we let the social rules fade away a little, recognizing how little they matter.

Play the widow card, Snick. It's the hand you were dealt, and no one would want to trade theirs with you.

Yummy Mummy said...

When we have a party or Christmas comes, I simple put on the invite, no presents please...you presence is all we need. A few won't abide, but most will. I also hate to by for my son, I never want him to thinks things just come to him.

You are a widow. there is no card. The things you are feeling are very real and you have every right to feel them.

Good luck with the move. I hope your family enjoys their new home. You deserve only the best.

CV said...

The best gifts are those from the heart. You know there's such an outpouring for the twins because the people that love you guys want to be able to see their joy and know they had a part in it. It's all very normal, even if the twins are too young to understand it. I think in time you'll have the urge to shower gifts (or love in other forms) onto others. For the time being you can be sure your friends know you to be generous with your time, attention, and your heart. You are very much present in our lives, which is much more than many people 'give' of themselves in friendship.

Sandi said...

I hear you about the gifts. I always put "no gifts please" on their party invitations. Some people still bring them, but they are so much more low key--sticker, balloons, books.

As for the gift-giving--I too took a lot of pride in finding the "perfect" gift. Since my husband died, I don't have the time or energy for it. I tend to just pick up a gift card when I'm at the grocery store.

mek said...

I don't have anything to add to the grief component, but the gift-hunger of the kids is something we see too in our 3 year old. I don't know if this works or not, but as the days go by, when the toys come out, I try to mention who the toy came from. I don't think we can really hope for gratitude in the moment, but over the long haul I have seen it kick in maybe half the time.

Cora also frequently asks for things in the store, or if she sees one at school or a friend's house. We can usually put it off (it's for bigger kids, it's a summer toy, etc.) but that will only work so long! She also will sometimes, if I say we can't buy something, ask if we can make it (tonight it was a pig costume). That is different - I like that impulse much better. And sometimes just talking about how we would make it is enough for her. I think sometimes it is not really about the thing, as it is about a feeling, and sometimes it works for us to just take care of the feeling.

But, you know, talk to me on Oct. 29th when I'm trying to make a snout and curly tail.

Elaine said...

Parents have always worried about this, and it IS an age. My mother still remarks about how "revolting" it was when my brother and I were small and Christmas came...we were around 4 and 3 at the time. They'll grow and learn from your example.

Presents? Who cares? You're bringing the present of your presence. A nice bottle of wine is always appreciated at a party, if being empty-handed truly bothers you.

Susan said...

Maybe at next year's birthday you could request that guests bring their favorite childhood book to add to R&M's library and donate any duplicates you get.

Buying gifts is totally stressful, widow or not, so you do whatever works for you.

Pop and Ice said...

You really don't have to worry about the kids getting too many presents at their birthdays and Christmas because you don't buy many during the year. And that's exactly what I did. I let everyone else spend the heavy money when my kids were young and concentrated on buying the constant clothing that was needed.

As far as not being able to gift yet, your friends should understand. And besides, we all have too much stuff anyway.

Fairlington Blade said...

I'm on the curmudgeonly side of kids stuff. Not that I begrudge the kids having good "things", but it seems overwhelming at times. Fortunately, I think I balance Mrs. Blade out.


Namaste: Nals said...

I think you're doing great. You serve as an inspiration to us all :)

Anonymous said...

This too may pass - at 3, my daughter wanted 'stuff'. At 7, she rarely asks for anything, is perfectly content to check out books from the library, and watch the same few things on TV over and over. She also delights in passing on her outgrown things to other kids.

It sounds like maybe you value spending time with people rather than things... maybe your 'thing' can be to cook dinner or see a show/art gallery/concert with people instead of giving them things.

Jen said...

I don't think it's rude to show up empty handed at a birthday party -- I think it's rude to invite someone to a party *expecting* a gift!

Do cut yourself some slack. I'm not a good giver or receiver of gifts either -- it wears me out. You are probably already so tired, emotionally. Just give yourself a break.

Anonymous said...

It's not that your kids are inherently "greedy" or anything because of the behavior they exhibited at their party. They are just at an age now where they are actually aware of what is going on on their birthday and that gifts are a part of it, and it is exciting and new to them. With such a thoughtful person as yourself for a mother, they will not be able to help but to learn to be grateful gift-receivers!

In my circle of friends, it is an unspoken thing that gifts are never expected at birthdays, and I LOVE it.

Lily said...

Let's face it: When emotionally drained, it's far more difficult, if not impossible, to be a giving person.

Anonymous said...

Just remember, if you don't buy anything for your kids you must not buy anything for yourself as well.

Dianne said...

When my son turned 3, I, too, could not believe the gifts. So when he turned 4, I wrote "No gifts - your presence is present enough!" on the invites. A few people brought gifts anyway, as did aunts, uncles, grandparents. I don't think my son even noticed that not everyone brought gifts anyway.

I also do not open the presents at the party - we do that at home later. Then no worries when they don't say thank you!

Krys72599 said...

What amazes is that those 2 anonymous posters actually thought it was appropriate to lecture you about how you feel and how you want to raise your children!
You know what, Snick? You just go on doing what you're doing. You are feeling exactly what you should be feeling, and you are doing a terrific job of raising your kids.
The important thing is NOT "lightening up" and "getting some badly needed perspective." Your perspective is just fine. I don't wish death and grief on that anonymous poster but when the day comes, and it will, that he/she needs to face such horrific loss as you have, well I hope they remember what they said to you.
And as for not buying for yourself if you're not buying for your kids? WTF??? You're the parent and the wage-earner - you can spend your money any way you want.
And it sure sounds to me like you're thinking about your kids first, before you make any decisions, whether it's where to live, whether to buy a home or rent an apt, whether to throw an elaborate and unnecessary party or a family-oriented get-together.
I admire you - you're doing just fine. Keep on keepin' on!

Gillian said...

From the perspective of the kid - I can still remember a birthday (was I 4? 5? something like that) when I got exactly what I wanted from a friend - a Pound Purry. The whole party I loved on that thing and carried it everywhere. Towards the end my mother dragged me aside and hissed at me through her teeth - put down that cat and hold some of your other toys. Here, take Snoopy. She was so worried that the other parents would notice I didn't like what their kids brought quite as much! As a kid I was sort of bewildered, but now as a mom I totally get the performance anxiety-by-proxy.
I hope you get your gift giving joy back someday. Grief permeates so much of a life. Big sigh.
Happy birthday kidlets!

Gillian said...

Oh, and I don't buy birthday gifts for friends usually - I write them a long note about what they mean to me. I don't think it's "cheap and disrespectful" - I think it's fiscally responsible, and living within my means, a quality that is too little prized. I show them I love them by being there for them all year, not buying them some cute $30 forgettable consumable.

Mandy said...

I totally feel you on the gifts, and I don't even have a proper "excuse." Weddings and baby showers are fine, but Christmas is the worst. Why must we spend our money buying each other gifts that neither one of us needs (or even wants)? Let's just spend some quality time together, have a nice meal, and call it a day...Yeah, I'm a complete Scrooge!

Anonymous said...

This post made you come off as a very unlikable person. You need to start thinking about people other than yourself. I realize that this will be difficult for someone who has a blog about herself but for the sake of the kids you need to try. Please don't become a "Kate-like" personality! Were you really upset this weekend because it was all about the kids and not about you?

alyssa said...

long time lurker here, with a different perspective.

my parents didn't want tons of gifts around, and let guests know it. it sucked for me, sucked. i felt cheated--yes, even at 4. i remember my fourth birthday for this reason.

worse, when i went to other parties i saw the mounds of gifts other kids got and felt more unloved.

granted, i have my own issues about things i did and didn't get as a child. however, if they see other kids getting stuff and they don't it can be confusing.

Anonymous said...

It is the age of your children to want, want, want. It may be hard, but try to enjoy them being three because they do grow up fast. I would not exclude gifts from their birthday parties. Part of being a kid is getting gifts at birthday parties - let them enjoy this. Just because they want a lot now does not mean they will grow up being rude, disrespectful people. Now is a good time to start them with thank you notes. You'll write them, of course, but they can draw a picture on each note. You'll be starting a good habit early. Don't be too hard on yourself with gift giving... and don't worry about playing the widow card. One day you will find joy in gift giving again.


CV said...

It's funny - clearly some people who don't know you IRL are under the impression that Maddie and Riley have nothing but sticks and rocks and the occasional bubble-wrap to play with. I don't think they realize how much STUFF these kids already have and receive on a regular basis.

I can report that the playroom at our house, once stuffed to the hilt with maddie/riley toys looks barren now compared to when they were here. I swear, I think I saw a tumbleweed roll through the other day!

Maddie and Riley are not wanting for creature comforts, for toys, for attention or for love. They don't have John but they pretty much have everything else one could imagine. Snick, on the other hand, doesn't seem to buy much of anything for herself. Oh, there was the ice cream from ranc's on the occasional evening after the kids went to bed.. selfish!

(Obviously, I take offense on your behalf that people get the wrong impression of you sometimes. On the flip side, I do agree you shouldn't let it bug you that they want STUFF and that your family/friends want to provide it. Just try to feel the love.)

You're probably also feeling the strain of not having a place to call your own right now. I'm sure that adds a layer of stress - wanting the kids to behave and be grateful may be part of the overall sense that things just aren't where they need to be just yet. (total speculation.) Once you're settled in your new house, all the STUFF will find its proper place in the house and off your mind.

Be good to yourself. We miss you.

Jennifer said...

Snick - Ah, birthdays. And kids wanting "stuff." This, too, shall pass. My kiddos are 10 and 7 and sometimes it's pulling teeth getting them to make a list of things they want for occassions. Other times, it's something "big ticket" and I tell them they'll get that, and nothing else. It's all part of the growing pains. And I think it's great that you're addressing it now. You're a great mother.

Anonymous said...

By the time my daughter was around age 6, we sat down and talked about how much "stuff" we had and how lucky we were to have the things we wanted and needed, and that a birthday party was really about spending the day with friends and family and having a fun time celebrating the person of honor...without all the gifts. Of course our children always got the special present they had been wanting from us, and you can't ruin g-ma and g-pa's life by not letting them spoil them, right? But to the rest of the family and friends, we put on the invitation to please bring a can of food for the local food bank. One year it was a pet supply for the local animal shelter, which would include old towels or blankets that they can always use. My kids were never deprived by this as they were more enriched by taking these donations to the centers and seeing what good had come from their celebration after their special day of celebrating with loved ones was over.
To this day, I still have very charitable kids that find ways to give instead of take. My son is in a rock band and does a show in the park every year where they collect food for the food bank and my daughter works on campus collecting the things students leave behind at the end of the year to give to people in need.
Don't worry about what others say. I had people tell me that it was sad that my children only got cans of food at their parties, and those some of those same people sit and cry their sad stories to me about how selfish their children have grown up and they just don't know why??

liz said...

Re: when you need to gift to someone else, I think most poeple understand when you show up empty-handed. Aside from your widowed status, you're raising 3-year-old twins! Anyone who doesn't give you a break is someone you don't need in your life.

But here's a way to give yourself a break. Go to your nearest farmer's market or store that stocks locally made goods. Buy a case of local honey/jam/soda/beer/wine/soap/whatever
Bring a jar/bottle/bar or two wrapped with a ribbon to all occasions.

No, it doesn't express your finding the perfect gift, but it supports the local economy.

Anonymous said...

Hey Snick, as far as gifts go -- the kids' behavior is totally age-related, I assure you. It gets better -- I remember being taken aback by the free-for-all that was my daughter's birthday present opening when she turned 3.

I too get kind of blown away by the amount of STUFF one child can accumulate in gifts, and that's just one kid. I wish we didn't do massive amounts of gifts on my dad's side of the family at Christmas especially, but it's the way that family works and it's not worth it to me to make waves over it. We do the drawn thank-yous though.

We do talk a lot about how we have a lot of stuff with our daughter (now 5), and not everybody does, and how fortunate we are -- and we go through her toys every 6 months or so and donate those that are in good shape but no longer interesting, and talk about how someone who isn't as lucky will enjoy them. It's gotten to the point where she volunteers to donate things, which reduces clutter while helping her learn to think about people who have less. We also make a point to do toys for tots and/or Angel Tree at Christmas, and let her help choose the presents. But your kids are pretty young for that yet.

As far as gifts for adults -- for me, the default token is a bottle of wine (unless, obviously, the person doesn't drink). I like the PP's idea about jams or other goodies from a farmer's market.


Anne in Upstate NY said...

I can't weigh in on the kid/gift issue since it's been 25 years since my daughter was 3. But I will share this thought, in hopes it'll help you unpack from your guilt trip about showing up at other events without a gift.

I echo the other commenters who say there is just too much STUFF around.

Saturday night I threw a party at my house. No reason for it - just an informal little do to celebrate the beginning of summer (it's been cold here in Upstate NY) and enjoy a beautiful evening of dinner and drinks on the deck. Had about 20 folks over.

My friends, God love them, are wonderful - but all somehow felt compelled to bring wine AND flowers. I really wish they wouldn't have. I felt guilty because I hoped they hadn't felt obligated to do so. I missed big parts of my own party because I was hunting for vases and quickly arranging flowers so they wouldn't wilt. The party was great, but when I looked around at all these sweet but unneccessary gifts, I sighed, and started writing thank-you notes. It really took away from some of the "giving" I wanted to give my friends that night - the gift of a lovely meal on a summer's night. I think I was a gracious recipient, but I really wish I didn't have to be - that wasn't the point.

So I bring all this up to say, don't worry about showing up to things without a gift. I'd bet that 99 times out of 100, the host is happy as can be to just see YOU! I know I would have been! :-)

ellen said...

Just some thoughts:

There're two factors here...what you're going through, and what you want to teach your kids, and it sounds like they're in conflict right now. That means that you may need to have different rules for yourself/adults and for the kids, as long as you're consistent.

For example, if you choose not to put "no gifts please" on the invitation, you WILL get gifts, and it's disingenuous to complain about it afterwards. If you do this, then go to other kids' parties empty handed, your kids get the message that giftgiving is a one way street, completely about getting, not giving. I'd guess that that would aggravate the selfishness/greed that you're concerned about. Remember, the kids don't "get" the widow thing. They just see the actions.

If the commercialism is too much, there's nothing wrong with making gifts. Take the kids to the kitchen, bake a batch of cookies, or make some homemade play dough. Let the kids make a handlettered card for their friends, and teach them to make a gift be a personal act of love for the person you're giving it to.

And when you go to that adult's birthday, go empty-handed and use the widow card. (Or take the cookies...adults love them too!)

Lastly, don't make the party be all about the gifts (assuming that you've failed to request a gift free party. If the whole thing leads up to a grand gift opening session with everyone gathered around, that becomes the central part of the celebration. Open the gifts as they arrive, just with the giver. Or call them aside midstream.

Pretty random, I know, but you get the idea. You don't have to be a kid. Don't make the kids be widows, just kids, learning important kid lessons.

Anne in Upstate NY said...

Oh, and to the judge-y Anonymous posters - please STFU. This is Snick's blog and she can write about - and feel - whatever she damn well wants!


ellen said...

Oh, and to those who feel that all posters are required to be blindly supportive, I don't think that's what Snick is looking for. I get the impression that she's open to suggestions and constructive criticism. Just because you may not agree with what a poster has written doesn't mean that there's no value in it. And just ignore the trolls.

Evan's Mom said...

Wow, Anne in Upstate New York! Judge much? Just because the kettle's black doesn't mean you're not the pot..

Gifted kid said...

Anne, Anonymous can't stop Snick from posting. And Snick can turn off commenting, or moderate it if she wants. Back off, and keep the language appropriate to the level of discourse you'd like to see here.

Anne in Upstate NY said...

Sorry, folks, didn't mean to offend. I just hate to see anonymous folks take unfair potshots at a blogger we've come to know and admire. Again, apologies that I got carried away. Thanks for the feedback.

Nicole said...

What we've found works is not allowing the kids to open the box that the toy is in, unless it's something they particularly requested/wanted. Then we put the rest of the presents away for a while. If the kids specifically request the present, we give it to them (hey, if they remember it, it made enough of an impression that they REALLY want to play with it). Otherwise, the (unopened) presents get donated to Toys for Tots.

(The kids get LOADS of presents at their birthday, Christmas, and whenever the grandparents feel like it, but really only have particular things they want. So they don't even notice that the other presents are gone.)

Ellie said...

We all handle grief differently, process it in our own time and our own way.

When you write this ... "It's all especially rude in light of the fact that I've been the recipient of countless gifts since John died. I've received tangible gifts and the intangible gifts of love, support, and time. It's all meant a lot to me, but it hasn't yet inspired me to start giving back. I hope someday it will."

... I agree with you completely. It is rude. And I join you in hoping that one day what you have received helps rekindle your innate joy in giving to others.

I raised my son -- now grown -- on my own after his father died of lung cancer when I was eight months pregnant.

And now I am on my own again, with small children, after losing my dearest love to a heart attack in April.

I suppose, more because of everything (rather than despite it all), I feel that it is better for me, and better for my kids to carry on making the effort. The world just keeps on turning, taking us with it: love doesn't die.

Take care of yourself, Snick. Baby steps are always better than standing still.

Mary Ellen said...

Man - quite a boiling pot here with the gifts thing! Happy birthday little ones - and Snick, thanks for just showing up, honest and real, on the blog. I always enjoy your perspective, and recognize that it comes from the truth of your experience.

Lexie said...

At the kids' summer party (which isn't their birthday as we don't do birthday parties due to the Christmas birthday thing) we put "no gifts, please" but people get confused as to what to do, so this year we did a toy swap.

I asked people to bring one gently used toy per child that they brought to the party and we put them all in a big box and then as they left, they each picked one toy. It worked out well. Everyone got to take home something "new" and it wasn't just a bunch of my kids tearing through stuff. My kids (and many others) sought out and thanked the kid/parent who brought the toy they picked. And it was cute because some things (like a kite) required instructions for the kids who were unfamiliar with these items and so the previous owner taught the new owner how it worked. I liked it, and hope to do it again next year.

(For their Christmas birthday thing, we usually just have a small, homemade birthday cake for each and just have family sing happy birthday.)

Elaine said...

I am sad to see how inconsiderate and rude some people can be. If they are going to read your blog and can't say anything nice, then that is all they should do is read and move on. There is nothing wrong with asking party guests to not bring presents. I have a 9 yr. old daughter and on the last 4 B.D. party invitations she received there was a note saying "no gifts please, just being here on this day is a gift in itself." I hope you don't let the "rude, inconsiderate" comments get you down. You have 2 beautiful kids and from what I have read here, you are a wonderful Mother.
Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July.
Elaine from MT

Beaglemania said...

This is very minor in comparison to everyone's sage and great advice.
But as a Twin myself, I know my brother and I, when younger, would go into frenzies at gift receiving time. Inevitably it would lead to tears. We had to have our own things, these were "mine"

I definitely think it has to do with multiples. We are constantly sharing and using each others things, that for that moment you unwrap it, it is "yours" and only yours. No one elses.
I know we had issues with sharing with other kids when we got to school and involving others. We had our own little unit and even language, that it just naturally excluded others. One year in nursery school cured us!

Also - i dont think anyone thinks negatively as you as a parent since your three year olds dont have perfect manners. I probably would think they were droids or something if they were angels all the time and said please and thank you for everything!!

Sylvie said...

Happy Birthday Maddie & Riley! They look so big and grown up. You're right, grief appears in strange ways. But all good and all normal, I'm sure. Good luck with the moving in.

Anonymous said...

I've received tangible gifts and the intangible gifts of love, support, and time.

And I suspect you have given THESE gifts - the ones that matter - right on back. Before John died they must have been offered freely and often for you to be repaid in kind.

Since John died, as much as you can (and probably sometimes more). Those who know you, who love you, who are close to you (and therefore, have some - but not total - right to judge, unlike some of my fellow anonymous commenters) surely take such offerings with gratitude. Life is long and giving to and from good people evens out over the course of it. No point in keeping a mental checklist of who has given what in the short term.

AVONLadyinSC said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with how you feel about giving gifts right now. You're still grieving and grief hits at different times. Perhaps it makes sense to get another family member to take over the gift giving duties till the kids are older? The kids wouldn't really have a clue. I know a friend who gave gifts from her parents and her when she lost her husband. She just didn't have the strength or energy to chose them. The kids got gifts they were happy. I love your blog, I enjoy your writing, I don't even know how I found it. I hope you keep it, you're a strong woman. By the way I have yet to meet a kid who is always perfect when it comes to behavior while opening gifts..I work at a school full time and..no kid is perfect. Hang in there, your writing gives so many strength. Do what you want to do, what you need to do, and anyone that has a problem with it..tell them where to go I always say :) How you feel is how you feel and no one gets that but you. You don't owe anyone anything for them giving to you in your time of grief. Those are gifts that aren't to be repaid, but just accepted at that time. Go enter my giveaway, I'm giving away perfume :)

superpaige said...

They are probably so overwhelmed with all the gifts. Double, since there are two of them. You could pack some of them away (they'll probably never miss them) and then you could use them for Christmas gifts for them, or just for surprises later.

buddha_girl said...

I don't do well with gifts, either. For a myriad of reasons that won't be discussed here.

At Buddha's party last month, things were low-key as well - family only, lemonade, swimming - yet when it came time for gifts, I recoiled at what I could only call "preschooler greed" when Buddha flew through his giftage. He redeemed himself by saying thank you and hugging everyone. He's a year ahead of M and R - it'll come. Promise.

My birthday wish for you? That the grief enveloping you becomes less palpable and that you can find small moments of joy in the gifts you bestow on those in your life each and every day:

those cardboard boxes, laughter with friends, sharing your grief and growth with us.

OTRgirl said...

I don't even have the widow card and I find gift-finding tiring. It's not my 'love language'. I enjoy getting and giving gifts, but I much prefer 'quality activities' and memory building to any tangible gift. I opt for the 'Korean card' these days and often just give cash or a gift card instead.

You're so right though that grief is such a sneaky beast. Always biting when least expected.

(Please don't take to heart the anonymous comment about selfishness. There will be--and have been--times to just suck it up, but there are also times to acknowlege where you are. I value your honesty as you figure out life and I didn't hear your comments as whiny or selfish.)

Jane said...

Snick, I think your honesty and willingness to make yourself vulnerable here on this blog is a very generous gift to the world.

-GRC said...

My daughter is 3 and yes, she has TONS of stuff. It does bother me when I think of the waste involved--the packagin, the number of toys that likely will not be used because one kid can only like and play with so many toys, the mess that will spread from her room to other areas in the house. I know this is kind of a buzzkill, I can't even imagine how it must be with twins. The consumerism really depresses me. It seems we have lost the point of getting one or two really really nice, thoughtful gifts that will be used.

So I don't know if it's so much the widow card as much as the I don't want to contribute to the "more is better" card. I am guilty of giving a store gift card as a gift. Eh.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog Snick.
I think that your honesty, willingness to share all feelings, and humour, are a true gift. I also believe that allowing your loved ones to shower you with the tangible and intangible gifts you spoke of was in fact a gift to them in return. I'm unfortunately new to the widowhood life, but I am quickly learning that accepting these gifts from others lets them make a positive difference in a horrible situation, instead of feeling helpless. This is a true gift, and I'm sure it made them feel better than some nominal trinket would.
Your blog is a gift with every post - it helps others, like myself just starting out on this wicked road, feel a little less alone. That our feelings are understood and normal. That life does continue, even when it seems impossible. Nothing selfish, disrespectful, rude or cheap about that - you can't buy this kind of perspective.
As for the kids - I have a hard time with the 'stuff' and the present opening fiasco too. We have only had one 'kid' birthday party (my eldest daughter's 3rd), with only a few families and though I asked for no gifts, they still came. My mom is the biggest culprit, but I'm trying to see that she gets so much out of, it and let it go a bit. I just wish she would understand my lack of space for the said 'stuff'. I really like some of the other suggestions though, and may give them a try. I've also noticed that my daughter had a great time on all 4 of her birthdays, even though only one was a kid party.
I know a lot of people may think I'm a bit of a 'scrooge', but I feel that losing someone that meant everything to me - something that can't be bought, yet was the best gift I could hope for in life, made the rest of the 'stuff' completely insignificant. Not easily taught to 3yr olds, but it sounds like you're doing a great job at working to find balance and in laying the groundwork for a couple of compassionate, caring, giving and grateful individuals - yet another gift to the world. Congratulations to you, and happy birthday to M&R.