I recently travelled 8,000 miles home to visit family and see my sick grandad for possibly the last time. I brought $150s worth of gifts across for them from Montreal, Toronto, Paris, Lorraine, and Iceland. Now my mum is demanding an extra, more expensive gift that I post to my brother because his car broke down after he'd given me a lift to the airport. Reasonable or unreasonable? How would you navigate this?
posted by everydayanewday to human relations (64 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I recently (within the last year and a half), moved from London (England) to Vancouver. Because of the expensive airfare, going home isn't going to be possible very often. My grandad recently suffered a series of strokes that left his memory/cognitive abilities very impaired and also mean he's physically challenged (he's fallen and hit his head four times in the past three months). He's 90. As he was the one who looked after me after my parents became too abusive to do it, I wanted to go home and see him before it was too late.So me and husband booked a trip. It was cheaper for us to fly to Montreal and Toronto and go back to Europe from there, so we had two days in each, before going to visit his family in France. He then flew home for work, but also because he's uncomfortable around my parents who are racist (he's half Polish, they hate Polish people, among others). I went onto the UK alone.
I get home and give family all the gifts in my suitcase, everything is lovely, they remark how much of it there is and I didn't need to do that, etc. I've brought so many things across I don't really have any clothes, so I take the opportunity to go to Primark (where a dress is £6-8) and Tesco (supermarket that sells clothes almost as cheaply). I find lovely things at prices not available in Van, where everything is super expensive. I buy loads of tights at £1.50 each, underwear, a coat, a blouse, a pair of shoes. Yay for me, I have tons of clothes for about £50!
The visit is as good as it can be, at the end they offer to pay for a taxi to the airport or have my brother run me there. This is unprecedented! They would never normally do such a generous thing, I am touched. In the end it's agreed my brother will take me, if they pay him as much as the cab fare would have cost. All good, right?
He takes me to the airport, all goes to plan. EXCEPT - 10 mins after he drops me off his car breaks down. He waits an hour for the AA guy to get there. Mum emails me to tell me about this twice, and then gets my dad to do it. I commiserate. I get a fourth email in which instructs me to buy a t shirt for for brother as a thank you because his car broke down. She tells me his size and preferred fit. It is not a request.
Problems I have with this:
A) He was paid by my parents to take me to the airport, which is the only reason he agreed to do it. He was NOT doing me a favour. He barely spoke to me for the entire half hour journey. (We do not get on).
B) I already carried $130's worth of gifts and food across Canada/Europe, which means I filled it up to the limit, crossed customs with it, dragged it across London on the bus, the Paris metro and lots of other places where it pissed me and others off. He got a bagful of gifts from me, which are already sitting in his house. Now he needs an extra gift worth more than everyone elses, on top of what he already has?
C) Shipping from Canada is expensive. A 150g packet of cookies cost me $25 to send home, and that was by land. It took 3 months to arrive. By air is $15 more. So a t shirt would be $50-60 to buy and send.
D) I'm not working, so actually, my husband would be buying my brother a t shirt. Demanding that he do this is weird.
E)He has physically threatened my sister twice now (last time she had to call the police), so buying extra gifts for him isn't something I really want to do, I'd rather not give him anything at all but that would cause rifts in the family.
E) Something is really sticking in my craw about being commanded to buy gifts. FWIW I'm 32 and haven't lived with, or anywhere near them for 17 years. So it's not like we have a relationship where they order me about and I comply.
- They send me packages delivered to their address (I buy and cover postage, but they still go to the post office and send it), as it saves on corporate shipping rates for me. They offered to do this for me but it's still an imposition and I am grateful for it.
- They see me travelling a lot (got married this year and did a US west coast tour, just come across from Toronto, visited France etc). They see it as very extravagant even though I use rideshare and hostels etc to achieve it, and it is. I'm very lucky to be able to do these things now.
- They know my husband earns a good wage and we're about to buy a house to rent out before we move to LA/SF/wherever work is. So they see it as our duty as richer members of the family to provide for poorer members. I can see this.
Do I suck it up and give him the gift he deserves? Am I being an arsehole for not wanting to do it? How do you cope, as an adult, with a parent that commands you to do things?
Thank you in advance for your advice.