For a sentimental family occasion, my inlaws got me a very sweet present of some expensive jewelry-- after being told very clearly that I don't like expensive jewelry and don't really wear it. How terrible would it be (politically, ethically, relationally) if I were to return the item in question to the store?
posted by anonymous to human relations (60 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My spouse's parents are lovely people, and we get along well. They're also very generous about giving gifts-- not just for official occasions like birthdays, but when they arrive on visits and "just because." They can be somewhat... strong-minded in their generosity (at the latest visit, for instance, we begged them to please please not bring any more toys for our kid, because she has a billion and we have NO MORE ROOM, and just their presence was enough. They showed up with a princess-themed toy in hand [there have been a number of prior conversations about how we hate princess culture and try to shield our daughter from it] and were all, "I know you said no more toys, but we saw this and thought it was cute...").
My issue at present: we recently had a new baby. About a week afterwards, I had the following conversation with my husband (H):
H: So my parents called and wanted to know what kind of jewelry you like. They want to get you something as a "push present" for the baby.
B: Ack, really? I seriously don't like jewelry-- please don't let them get me any jewelry. I would just end up losing it. It's so totally sweet of them, but I really really don't need any kind of present.
H: I know, I told them you didn't like jewelry and didn't wear it.
B: Cool, then. Phew. Because seriously, that would be terrible. They're not going to do this, are they?
H: No, I told them. Don't worry.
I thought at the time that the matter was sorted; but this week, lo and behold, the inlaws proudly presented me with a very expensive ($500!) piece of jewelry. They seemed very excited about the design and had a cute story about having gone to two different jewelry counters to find just the perfect thing, etc. Of course I thanked them effusively at the time, wore the piece conspicuously out the next day, and so forth; and I will be sending an enthusiastic and heartfelt thank-you note, because it really was a lovely gesture. On the other hand.. the piece, while pretty, is similar in profile to something else I have, plus not really my style, plus too effing expensive for my small-item-losing, scatterbrained self. Realistically, I will never wear this in everyday life.
Here's the rub: I have gift receipts for the jewelry, and when the inlaws were giving it they did make the obligatory "But of course, if you don't like it, you can take it back and get something else..." gesture. My question is, can I actually do this? It seems so tacky and ungrateful to return a sentimental, highly thought-out special-occasion gift and use the credit to buy towels or whatever. But.. I didn't want the jewelry, and they knew I didn't want the jewelry, because we told them. I already feel fairly uncomfortable that they spent so much money on me; the frustration of knowing that that money was effectively thrown away, particularly when there are a number of things that I would LOVE to have $500 for (heck, I'd be happiest just to have them take the $500 back, although I fear there's no way to make that happen), is seriously messing with my head. What should I do? (And more broadly, what is up with otherwise-delightful people like this? Is their vision of their gift really more important than anything they know about the actual preferences of the receiver?)
Any perspectives, suggestions or insights would be great. Thanks, MeFi!