No thank you
December 12, 2008 1:52 PM Subscribe
Holiday gift giving dilemma: I have two half-sisters. One always thanks me for gifts. The other rarely does. How to remain on good terms with both, but not feel like a chump?
posted by anonymous to human relations (21 answers total)
I have two half-sisters (full sisters to each other), with whom I would like to remain on good terms. Let's call them Abigail and Tracy. We don't know one another very well-- they are much younger than me and our father divorced their mother when they were young, so we haven't spent that much time together. Our father is now deceased. We're all adults--I'm 42 and married, Tracy is 32 and married, and Abigail is 30.
I often send them each a modest gift for Christmas; for example, the last two years it has been a cookbook. I don't expect them to reciprocate, and in fact some years I don't give them a gift. Abigail always thanks me and sometimes sends a gift herself. Tracy virtually never thanks me. In earlier years I thought "Well, she's young, I was pretty bad about thanking people when I was younger," or "She just started a new job," or "She just got married." But, you know, she's 32, she's married, she's obviously responsible in other areas of her life and I am running out of excuses for her. I feel like a chump. Abigail says Tracy never acknowledges her gifts, either.
So, what to do?
- If I stop giving gifts to Tracy and only give them to Abigail, I am sure that Tracy will know and will feel slighted. I really don't want this to happen. I want things to be good between us, that's the whole point. Plus, our dad always did shitty things to play us off one another, and I just don't want to get near that issue.
- On the other hand, I don't want to keep giving gifts to both like this. I'm afraid that perhaps Tracy perceives me as the weird distant relative who wants a relationship when she doesn't want one. I have a cousin like that, and I don't want to be that person. But I'm not sure that's it--she does occasionally e-mail and send pictures. I really don't know how she feels. Anyway, it seems stupid to keep giving gifts to someone who is saying loud and clear "I don't care."
- And I don't want to stop giving gifts to both of them. Abigail seems kind of into it. We've started to talk a little more by e-mail, and sometimes by phone. This is another little point of connection, an excuse to communicate.
I know some people will say "why don't you just talk to them about it?" Well, it's not like that. It's hard to explain, but that really isn't an option. I feel that in our particular circumstance it would seem too overt, too confrontational--too formal. We don't have enough of a relationship to have that conversation.
Thanks for reading. What do you think I should do?