The Weather Outside Is Frightening... And I Should Know.
January 16, 2015 3:26 PM   Subscribe

This question is about giving and receiving gifts from family members (and how to STOP receiving certain gifts from a particular family member) and has a long (but hopefully interesting) tale of woe inside.

When I was a little girl, no matter what I asked for for my birthday or Christmas, I always got the same thing from my father, a HUGE, cheap, plastic, man's wrist watch with a calculator on it. My Dad got these watches as "special offers" where you sent in a certain number of coupons with points values and maybe a dollar of so for postage. Usually he kept the watches for himself, but when it was time for Christmas or my birthday or my sister's birthday he would give us one of the watches he didn't like as much. Yes, my dad is obsessed with watches, and he still has a huge collection of cheap watches to this day. Thankfully (?) he has stopped giving them as gifts because he has moved on to...

(drum roll here) stations! (like this . In fact he has given my sister and I most of the ones pictured on this page and has some of the fancier ones himself).

The first time I got one, I thanked him and I used it. The second time I got one I gently reminded him that he got one for me already and it still worked. I reminded him the third time too and by the forth time I just gave up and didn't say anything. I guess I sort of felt like he just has some kind of mental problem and couldn't do any better. I hate receiving these things though, not just because then I have to make a trip to Goodwill to get rid of them, but because its just a regular reminder of how my dad could never give us anything we really needed (and by that I mean Love and protection, and stability and kindness and so many other things that would take forever to list and don't need to be examined here). But, like I say, I was just going along with it because, what are you going to do? Then my dad got remarried and he started getting nice gifts for his wife.

I was astonished. After a lifetime of getting his cast off items as gifts, I didn't know he was capable of getting nice, personal presents. However, seeing that he is, I suddenly don"t EVER WANT ANOTHER WEATHER STATION! I don't care if he doesn't give me anything at all ever again, but I don"t want another piece of thoughtless crap in my house.

I need help making this happen. I don't want to cut off my relationship with my dad. Other than the gift thing we get along fine now. I expect very little of him and he expects very little of me and we enjoy the couple days a year when I visit him. I just don't want his crappy gifts and I want him to stop sending them. Period. I don't believe that saying, "Stop sending me weather stations will work." That never worked for the watches, but that is the first thing I am going to try. I think something humorous might have a chance of working, but I can't think of any way to say this that is funny.

Any ideas Meta Filter?
posted by WalkerWestridge to Human Relations (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you old enough that there is another generation of kids younger than you (your kids or nieces/nephews or even cousin's kids)? At a certain age I think you can say, "How about we stop giving gifts to adults and save presents for the children" without hurting anyone's feelings. Let the next generation deal with shitty gift giving.
posted by muddgirl at 3:34 PM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]

You can't change your dad. You can't change your dad. You can't change your dad. Keep repeating this as often as necessary. Receive the crap gift and if getting it to Goodwill is just too much hassle, leave it on the curb. You can't change your dad. You can't change your dad. You can't change your dad. Sorry your dad's shitty to you.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:14 PM on January 16, 2015 [10 favorites]

Best answer: So do you still have any of these watches or weather stations? If so, wrap one up and give it (back) to him for Christmas this year. Keep doing that.
posted by Sassyfras at 4:14 PM on January 16, 2015 [54 favorites]

It's incredibly rude to refuse a gift that is sincerely and thoughtfully given. But I don't think he's meeting those criteria and I think at this point you're justified in overstepping the bounds of gift etiquette a bit.

The next time he gives you a weather station, I'd just refuse to accept it (or ship it back if he has sent it by mail.)

Unless he's completely emotionally clueless he'll get the message and you'll stop getting weather stations. Whether you ever get anything more thoughtful depends on his reaction to the shock of having his gift refused and I wouldn't hold my breath.
posted by Nerd of the North at 4:18 PM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would return the favor by gifting him something equally redundant and useless to him, again, and again, and again, until he complains about it, and then doing it again, and again. It would a) be entertaining and b) might have a chance of getting the point across how inappropriate his gifts are.
posted by wrabbit at 4:22 PM on January 16, 2015 [6 favorites]

Maybe it's my personal bias but I'd really advise against the passive-aggressive strategies. "Dad, all my life you have been giving me weird and inappropriate gifts that just end up going to Goodwill. I don't want any more watches or weather stations, and I'm old enough now that you don't have to get me gifts at all. But if you do want to, please ask me what I would like."

That is if you say anything at all. I'm generally of the opinion that a gift given to you should be received with thanks, period. (It becomes different if someone is giving inappropriate gifts to your child, of course.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:41 PM on January 16, 2015 [14 favorites]

Are you friendly with his new wife? You could bring it up with her. Hopefully she can add some pressure onto him to not send any gifts anymore, or help him pick out better gifts-- I'm not sure which of these you would prefer.

I only say this because from 1981-2001, I could tell when my uncle was married or not (4 times, 4 women) by whether my family got some kind of gift or card at Christmas, or whether we heard nothing. Perhaps your dad really does listen to her well enough to be able to discern a good gift for her. My cynical self thinks that the new wife is doing what my parents do to fulfill the fantasy that my dad is good at picking gifts. My mom tells my dad, "for Christmas, buy me X, Y and Z. Here are the stores that sell them, the sizes/colors I need, and the date you should buy them by in order to get the sale price." Regardless of which of these scenarios is playing out in their relationship, the bottom line is, he listens to what she says about gifts, so she might have some insight for you about how to better communicate with him, or may be willing to communicate on your behalf.
posted by holyrood at 4:53 PM on January 16, 2015 [7 favorites]

Ask his new wife how she gets nice presents. It's entirely possible she gives him a list or flat-out goes to the store with his money, buys what she wants, and gives it to him to wrap. Then ask her to do that thing for you- either she buys your gift or gives your dad the list.

If the issue turns out to be that your dad COULD buy you a nice gift but won't, I would tell him you've grown out of gifts and want to exchange cards, and tell this godawful story at bars when you want to get smashed because I for one would buy you a drink upon hearing it.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:54 PM on January 16, 2015 [14 favorites]

+1 to ask the wife.

Or just be like, "Dad, I LOVE those earrings you got for Jane! Nice find. You should get me some earrings next year, nudge nudge hint hint."
posted by amaire at 5:14 PM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you haven't already trashed this year's weather station, send it back to him next year on Dec. 1, wrapped, with a nice card, as if it's a sincere gift. If that doesn't get the message across, resolve to enjoy your dad being alive and not fight it. Donate the weather stations to local schools?
posted by bleep at 6:15 PM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

I would mention it to the wife after you mention it again to your father. Just say (to him) "listen, these gifts aren't necessary anymore, let's just spend time together occasionally."

And reinforce it with his wife- "Please tell my dad I don't need anymore weather stations- I'm not sure he's "hearing" me telling him that, I just end up taking them to Goodwill". That's it. And if he gives you another one, just tell him "we talked about this, you should take this back home with you because I don't have time to go to Goodwill right now".

Repeat as needed. Don't think you will get nice presents instead though, it seems unlikely and honestly, is that really what you want from this? I doubt it.
posted by bquarters at 6:32 PM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]

I would tell him you don't want the weather stations and tell him exactly why. Tell him what you told us here -- it comes across like he doesn't care. Tell him if he is going to give you another weather station, he should give you nothing at all. From what I can tell, you've never actually been direct and honest with your feelings. "Hey, you gave me a weather station last year" isn't really enough. Lay it all on the table.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:52 PM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

My father is of the same ilk. It's not wristwatches or weather stations, but his gifts are almost always repetitive iterations of something that HE finds fascinating, and sometimes a freebie or promotion or deal/connection of some sort as well, yes. Typically consistently "exactly wrong" in a way that might be comical if it weren't part of a tiresome pattern of self-absorption.

We do refuse his gifts sometimes. "Ohhh, it's nice of you to think of us, but unfortunately we just won't be able to use that. At all." [maintaining a calm, neutral expression] "Yeah no, that just won't be possible." [shifting face into warm smile] "But thank you, and hey, it's the thought that counts!" [change subject]

It was hard the first few times. It felt for all the world like I was the parent and he was a child who needed to learn to accept that sometimes the answer to "I want" is going to be "no." He's gotten to accept it better and has developed his own explanations and coping strategies. For example, he'll make a bit of a production over calling me up to ask me if [thing] is something that I want, and as long as I give him credit for the thought, it's okay if I say no. I get some help from my mom, but I try not to overuse it, because y'know, she has to live with him all the time and I don't like constantly putting her in the middle of mitigating his poor social skills.

Nthing that the thoughtful presents that your dad gets for his new wife are probably because she gave him a list.
posted by desuetude at 10:22 PM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

How graciously do you thank your Dad for the presents? Perhaps he interprets the thank you as a positive, and keeps on giving gifts along the same track - could this be? That he is clueless regarding how unhappy and tired you are of receiving the same gifts?
posted by seawallrunner at 11:08 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

You could just take the box directly to Goodwill and let them open it.

If you think there's any possibility that he might ever send something different, you could try this really bizarre suggestion: you could have a friend open the package, see if it's anything unusual (as in, not a watch or a weather station). If unusual, let you know. If usual, ask friend to drop it at the nearest Goodwill or dumpster or what have you.
posted by RogueTech at 12:10 AM on January 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's always struck me as odd that one person can unilaterally decide that another person is going to receive something, without even asking if the other person wants it and without giving them the right of refusal. To me, that seems quite rude...

If the thought matters, then thank your father for the thought. Then ask him how he made the decision to buy you something that you already have and that he's bought you for several previous years. When you know a little more about his thought process surrounding buying you things, you will be in a better position to talk to him about the situation.
posted by Solomon at 2:43 PM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

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