I sent some gifts to my brother and his wife for their daughter’s birthday. I didn’t hear anything from them for a while and was concerned that the package had gotten lost, so I sent a message inquiring if it had been received. The response was “Yes, we got it, it’s great, thanks.”
I’m not sure what to think. The items I sent were custom-made and freaking awesome! I have 3 theories that could explain the behavior:
1) They quarantined the package in a storage shed out of fear of contracting Ebola (the package was shipped from Texas) so haven’t opened it and don’t know how awesome the gifts are;
2) They opened the package and saw how awesome they are and have decided to “re-gift” the packages to someone else;
3) They are truly so socially unaware as to not have sent an acknowledgement of receipt or thank you…at least a text message or email?
I probably shouldn’t be surprised by this less than warm, enthusiastic or appreciative response or even acknowledgment of receipt. This particular sibling is known for being very difficult.
He will go days, weeks & months not speaking to family members for the smallest ‘wrong’ or misstep. So, I’m hesitant to even say a word to them. My parents and sister agree this is a problem, and my dad says my brother feels he deserves what people give him and we should be grateful for the opportunity to give it to him.
I should probably suck it up and be happy with the knowledge I did something nice for someone, right? But why does it bother me so much that they’re constantly inconsiderate and clueless?
Out of Town Sister
Dear Out of Town Sister:
Your letter comes at the perfect time, now that the season is upon us and the time is nigh for misunderstandings, hurt feelings and general family malaise. Happy Holidays!
When we messaged you gave me the additional information that you see your brother’s family a couple of times a year, but only when you come home to visit as he thinks Texas is a shit hole and thus won’t venture to your state.
Sorry, but he may have a point there.
You also told me you always bring them gifts when you visit, and that they’ve never sent you or your kids gifts or cards.
Sister, I’m not trying to short change you or anything, but I can deliver you solid advice in just a few words:
Stop sending gifts to your brother. Just stop.
His kids are very young and won’t miss these presents, and there is no sense in continuing to experience frustration when you go out of your way to do something nice and your gesture isn’t even acknowledged.
Your brother sounds like a jerk and I sense that you and the rest of your family sort of kowtow to him. Is that accurate? After reading your letter and the messages we exchanged, I am left with a strong impression that he has a temper and everyone walks on eggshells around him and does their level best to keep him happy.
If I’m correct (duh, you know I am) I think you and the rest of your family should get together and try to answer that question. Once you figure out why you all keep bending over backward for the most difficult and obstinate member of your family, you may be able to understand, address, and eliminate your feelings of frustration each time your brother acts exactly as you already know he will.
Becoming bothered when your brother is inconsiderate and rude is like getting upset when it rains in Oregon. Buy an umbrella or move, but don’t look out the window and complain.
I would continue your habit of giving your nieces and nephews gifts in person when you visit, so long as you never expect a thank-you card. It’s hard enough for those of us who were brought up properly to get those things out, much less children who are being raised by an entitlement-minded caveman like your brother.
Should your brother have balls gigantic enough to ask you why you haven’t graced his doorstep with any packages lately, please simply send him a link to this blog.