Rude Brother Doesn’t Acknowledge Gifts


Dear AskDesCamp:

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.






This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. YouCanLeadAHorticulture

    Spot on advice as usual, if you know someone is going to behave in a certain way, why bang your head against a wall and set yourself up for aggravation?

  2. Colleen

    Your words always make me feel better. I’m glad that I’m not alone in having relatives who are . . . entitled.

  3. echinachea

    Excellent and timely advice!

  4. Debbie

    With my ex in laws, after sending holiday cards and gifts for two years without a peep in return, I never sent anything ever again. Same problem with the current in laws. I too get upset that we can’t have a nice exchange of pleasantries. WTF is wrong with people? Now I save my money for people who appreciate me.

    Regarding Texas- they have one thing right. Alimony laws. So they are ahead of the curve there.

  5. Margaret

    This is one of my pet peeves. For years I have sent my brothers a fresh Christmas wreath from our state in the NW, and no thank you’s from any of them, or gifts from them either. (BTW, our mother set an excellent example for all of us regarding sending thank you notes, taking hostess gifts, etc, so WTF is wrong with them?). Anyway, it’s time to order those wreaths and I’m skipping it this year. (I guarantee I will hear from them this time: “Hey, we really missed getting that beautiful wreath . . . “)

  6. Margaret Eccles

    I’ve noticed lately that a lot of your letters are about how rude people are about practically everything, which I agree with to a certain point…:) , BUT not everyone really knows what being rude is, and possibly your readers need to change their expectations and/or address the problem with the person who is considered rude to them instead of you!
    I was fortunate enough to have grownup in a family that was very clear and consistent about using the best possible manners, and what would be expected and well received by such behavior in the world for which I believe was one of my greatest gifts from my family.
    Clearly not everyone has had those opportunities.
    In fact, I think it’s practically epidemic these days to have what I would consider a “daily rude experience”.
    But, I also need to say that if a particular rudeness bothers a reader so much that they feel they have to write you first instead of talking to the “rude” person initially, change your expectations, be tactful by example and chill out.

    1. Addie

      Margaret, I’m pretty sure those that submit these letters have taken your approach but unfortunately most rude people suffer from severe hearing loss (possibly from continually telling themselves how deserving they are). That and they just don’t give a !@%# (i.e. “rudeness”).

      1. Margaret Eccles

        Clearly you have no ability to comprehend what I wrote.
        Ironically, you comment was very rude and little instructive.
        Thank you for your response.

        1. Addie

          Margaret, actually you said it best “BUT not everyone really knows what being rude is”.

          If you prefer that no one read & reply to your comments, I highly recommend you do not leave them on a public website.

          Good day & enjoy your cake (seeing that you took it)! ☺

  7. Addie

    In addition to your always sage advice, the 1 comment that stood out was from Out-of-Town Sister, whose father said “we should be grateful for the opportunity to give it to him”.

    Dad’s (not so sage) advice equates to: Learn to be to be grateful that people will take advantage of your generosity (or “bend over honey, & learn to enjoy it”).

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