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Perspective needed on my sister and her gift request


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I have two sisters (and two brothers too but they are irrelevant in this discussion). Sister A has researched buying housekeeping services for our elderly parents and has floated the idea by all the siblings for providing this service for one year as our shared Christmas present. I don't know how much the others are contributing but I'm buying a little more than two months worth of housekeeping ($40). If we all put in about the same amount then I think it will cover the yearly fee.

 

Now sister B has sent out a group e-mail saying that she had bought a music CD for $27 that she's going to give to my dad for his 90th birthday. She wants us all to chip in to buy the CD for him. :confused: The thing is, I'm already spending over $1000 to go out for this red letter birthday (which is also my dd's 10th birthday). And I've bought him a birthday gift.

 

In one sense, chipping in $5 for her gift wouldn't kill me financially. But I"m a bit exasperated with being hit up for what seems like a stupid request. But I need perspective because there is bad history between sister B and myself. About 20 years ago (yes, it's been that long and it still affects me) she sat me down and told me about how she'd always hated me and was jealous of me. Then she told me that she expected me to pay her a fee for having boarded me at her house during a visit. We are now civil and there is no drama, but I do feel wary of her.

 

So do I show her grace and chip in? She is not rolling in money by any means but depending on the priority she puts on something, she can always find the money. For example, they have enough to spend to go by plane to see their favorite baseball team play a couple of times a year and stuff like that.

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Dear Family,

 

Since we are all chipping in on presents this year, I thought I would give you the opportunity to chip in on the best present for Dad. It will cost $1,000 for me to fly back for his birthday. Divided amongst all of us, that will only be x amount each. I've already purchased him a gift, so I'd like you to chip in $x. And sister B, your $5 is in the mail for the CD.

 

Love and Kisses,

 

Jean

 

What? Wouldn't work? I guess you might have to be the metaphorically bigger sister.

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Well I'm ornery so I would send an oh-so-sweet reply that since she found this cd and chose it for him with loving thoughts, it should be her special gift for him. I wouldn't want to interfere with that. :tongue_smilie: And then I might possibly mention what loving, personal gift I was getting him. Chipping in for a $27 cd is bizarre.

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Dear Family,

 

Since we are all chipping in on presents this year, I thought I would give you the opportunity to chip in on the best present for Dad. It will cost $1,000 for me to fly back for his birthday. Divided amongst all of us, that will only be x amount each. I've already purchased him a gift, so I'd like you to chip in $x. And sister B, your $5 is in the mail for the CD.

 

Love and Kisses,

 

Jean

 

What? Wouldn't work? I guess you might have to be the metaphorically bigger sister.

 

:lol:

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Dear Family,

 

Since we are all chipping in on presents this year, I thought I would give you the opportunity to chip in on the best present for Dad. It will cost $1,000 for me to fly back for his birthday. Divided amongst all of us, that will only be x amount each. I've already purchased him a gift, so I'd like you to chip in $x. And sister B, your $5 is in the mail for the CD.

 

Love and Kisses,

 

Jean

 

What? Wouldn't work? I guess you might have to be the metaphorically bigger sister.

:lol::lol:

 

Love this idea.

 

But in real life, I'd chip in the $5 just for the sake of peace.

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We are now civil and there is no drama, but I do feel wary of her.

 

I would stay wary of her, yes, even 20 years later, unless you both have worked it out openly and completely, with a loving resolution. But it sounds as though you haven't.

 

To me, the whole five dollar thing shows she is still of the "one for you, one for me" mentality, which is the basis of jealousy -- that is, comparing herself to others, and feeling slighted when she comes up short in her own estimation. Who does this? Who buys a $27 gift without saying anything to anyone, and then after the fact asks her four grown siblings to chip in FIVE DOLLARS? Really? Why not SIX? Doesn't she want you to also split the taxes and part of the wrapping paper... and her card?

 

Only a Top Notch Manipulator would even attempt this nonsense. Don't play her game.

 

Or, you could play her game, but do it like this...

 

"No, I already bought Dad's gift for his birthday. It's a _________, and it cost $1000. If you split the cost of that with me, then I'll split the cost of the CD with you."

 

End conversation.

Edited by Sahamamama
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1. It is wrong to buy a gift without prior discussion, and expect others to chip in.

 

2. Pay the money anyway, because you can't reason with insanity.

 

:iagree: and it's worth the $5 to not have to live waiting for this particular craziness to come back up 10 years from now.

 

You have my sympathies. I don't know how you people with siblings manage. ;)

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I'd give her $10.00 and tell her to go buy herself something nice with the change. :glare:

 

OK. That's what I'd want to do. But, given the history, I'd just give her the $5 and leave it at that. If she was asking for a larger amount, I'd let her know I'd made other gift arrangements.

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Dear Family,

 

Since we are all chipping in on presents this year, I thought I would give you the opportunity to chip in on the best present for Dad. It will cost $1,000 for me to fly back for his birthday. Divided amongst all of us, that will only be x amount each. I've already purchased him a gift, so I'd like you to chip in $x. And sister B, your $5 is in the mail for the CD.

 

Love and Kisses,

 

Jean

 

What? Wouldn't work? I guess you might have to be the metaphorically bigger sister.

Love it!

I would stay wary of her, yes, even 20 years later, unless you both have worked it out openly and completely, with a loving resolution. But it sounds as though you haven't.

 

To me, the whole five dollar thing shows she is still of the "one for you, one for me" mentality, which is the basis of jealousy -- that is, comparing herself to others, and feeling slighted when she comes up short in her own estimation. Who does this? Who buys a $27 gift without saying anything to anyone, and then after the fact asks her four grown siblings to chip in FIVE DOLLARS? Really? Why not SIX? Doesn't she want you to also split the taxes and part of the wrapping paper... and her card?

 

Only a Top Notch Manipulator would even attempt this nonsense. Don't play her game.

 

Or, you could play her game, but do it like this...

 

"No, I already bought Dad's gift for his birthday. It's a _________, and it cost $1000. If you split the cost of that with me, then I'll split the cost of the CD with you."

 

End conversation.

:iagree:I'd just ignore the email.

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I'm going to be a dissenter. I'd write sis back and say "I'm sure Dad will love the CD. Thanks for offering to let us chip in on the gift; however, we've already purchased him a present from our family. Look forward to seeing you at the party."

 

Of course, only you can decide if family peace is worth the $5, but I would really resent getting roped into something like that.

 

The housecleaning gift sounds lovely, btw.

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Dear Family,

 

Since we are all chipping in on presents this year, I thought I would give you the opportunity to chip in on the best present for Dad. It will cost $1,000 for me to fly back for his birthday. Divided amongst all of us, that will only be x amount each. I've already purchased him a gift, so I'd like you to chip in $x. And sister B, your $5 is in the mail for the CD.

 

Love and Kisses,

 

Jean

 

What? Wouldn't work? I guess you might have to be the metaphorically bigger sister.

 

:smilielol5: I love it.

 

I'll give her the $5. But it makes me feel better that her request leaves you all scratching your heads too.:001_smile:

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While I agree that $5 is no big deal, I think it would be really weird if you had to chip in on that gift AND you purchased him a gift on your own. Honestly, I would tell her 'sorry, but I already bought him a gift too.' If she gets mad, tell her you'll send her the $5 because it's not a big deal but not to put your name on the gift, maybe? I don't know, I'm just trying to think of a nice way to let her know that what she is asking for is a bit ridiculous.

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Jean, Jean, Jean, have you visited my side of the family w/o telling me? These situations in families are so stressful...I know first hand.

 

Well, w/o looking at your responses I believe there is no "one right answer".

 

Sister A researched and kept communication open about the housecleaning gift to all siblings. She did not "buy" this service w/o the approval and consent of all parties agreeing. Right?

 

Sister B out and out bought the cd/dvd (forget which) w/o approval from the siblings.

 

Your past relationship with your sister should NOT have a bearing on your decision to chip in or not with the $5. This is about your Dad! With that said, I'd go ahead and chip in the $5. I do understand about the finances, etc. Where do you draw the line? This is a BIG b'day. Chip in the few bucks and know that it is from your heart to your Dad. Take your sister out of the equation. HOWEVER, in as tactful a way as possible, I would email your 2 sisters and brothers to let them know that your trip, housecleaning and cd donation are the TOTAL of your expenditure for this wonderful occassion. This will give them a hint to not "add on" again, later.

 

Jean, I was in a similar situation about 5 years ago when my Dad turned 80. It was stressful. In the end, we complied to my sister's request which was over and beyond like your Sister B.

 

:grouphug:

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That request does sound a bit eccentric. Is she a good person, in general? If one of my sibs asked me for this, i would go ahead and contribute, but I know them well. The request would be a little eccentric, yes, but I wouldn't say no. I can imagine one asking this at some point, perhaps. ;) (Always been a bit loopy and er, surprising...but loving.) I would not take it personally. So far, no interesting emails about gifts have reared. lol

Edited by LibraryLover
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Dear Family,

 

Since we are all chipping in on presents this year, I thought I would give you the opportunity to chip in on the best present for Dad. It will cost $1,000 for me to fly back for his birthday. Divided amongst all of us, that will only be x amount each. I've already purchased him a gift, so I'd like you to chip in $x. And sister B, your $5 is in the mail for the CD.

 

Love and Kisses,

 

Jean

 

What? Wouldn't work? I guess you might have to be the metaphorically bigger sister.

 

 

:lol: Let us know if you give that a try;) Can you ignore the request and hope all the other siblings cover it?

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I'm going to be a dissenter. I'd write sis back and say "I'm sure Dad will love the CD. Thanks for offering to let us chip in on the gift; however, we've already purchased him a present from our family. Look forward to seeing you at the party."

 

Of course, only you can decide if family peace is worth the $5, but I would really resent getting roped into something like that.

 

The housecleaning gift sounds lovely, btw.

 

I would send the above, but I am super touchy about money stuff and family at the moment. ;)

 

Dh would vote to just give the $5, but I wouldn't want to. At all. It's wrong for her to buy something without clearing it and then ask for $5 each. It would be different if she had said, "Hey, I bought this. If anyone hasn't already gotten a gift and wants to chip in let me know."

 

Even still it seems wrong for her to offer another group gift when everyone had already agreed to pay for the housecleaning service as a group gift.

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I'm going to be a dissenter. I'd write sis back and say "I'm sure Dad will love the CD. Thanks for offering to let us chip in on the gift; however, we've already purchased him a present from our family. Look forward to seeing you at the party."

 

Of course, only you can decide if family peace is worth the $5, but I would really resent getting roped into something like that.

 

The housecleaning gift sounds lovely, btw.

 

:iagree: I would first let her know you've already purchased a gift, and a plane ticket (that was the $$$, I assume)...okay, maybe leave that part out.

 

via e-mail you could make it short and sweet, just like the above. If she balks, then offer to bring her the money.

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If your sister is jealous of you, will she be upset if you give your dad an extra present just from you? If that might be the case, I would say something along the lines of "I got Dad x for his birthday, but I can chip in for the cd too if you want". That way she knows ahead of time that there will be a gift just from you and she can tell you to forget about chipping in for the cd if you giving another gift makes her uncomfortable. That way she can't claim you tried to upstage her, or something ridiculous like that, later.

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I would pay the "fee" for the sake of the rest of the trip. Sounds like she would make the family time miserable otherwise.

So consider it your insurance (cheap at that) to protect the $1000 investment you have already made.

 

What do we always say here??? Put on your big girl panties and pay up.

 

BTW, I consider real insurance to be extortion as well.

 

Lara

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1. It is wrong to buy a gift without prior discussion, and expect others to chip in.

 

2. Pay the money anyway, because you can't reason with insanity.

 

That sums it up!

 

I would try to reason with insanity though and point out how rude it is to buy a gift assuming others will pay for it. I know it would be pointless.

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If I got this request from one of my siblings or siblings-in-law, I would be quite perplexed. I would think them very small and cheap. And presumptuous.

 

I have one brother who is very socially awkward. He has no sense of what's appropriate. And he's also very broke -- the poorest of the siblings. I would not expect this even of him.

 

I would certainly *want* to ignore the request. But I wouldn't want to leave my nice siblings high and dry. Is it possible to find out what they're doing with this request and go along with them?

 

Next year she may buy him a home entertainment system and ask you to chip in your portion.

 

And she'll probably put just her name on the card.

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I agree with Joanne UNLESS chipping in would set a precedent that will be thrown in your face for the rest of time--a truly no win situation.

 

In summary: She is nuts, and petty.

However, it's just $5.

Unless it turns into $50 next year and $500 the year after that.

 

So my advice would be Joanne's with the addition of a breezy note along the lines of: I'll be glad to pitch in toward that CD, and in addition will be bringing a gift of our own that I had already purchased. In the future, if we are going to combine forces to buy common gifts, let's agree on it in advance to avoid misunderstandings.

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This reminds me of the way my sister acted when my dad died.

 

I told her that my best friend, husband and I could clean dad's house to sell in a weekend. She didn't want us to do it because she knew. We would open a box, say, "that's trash and throw it away."

 

She wanted to find a loving home for every item, and read every scrap of paper. She cleared 6 months on her calendar to do it, and wanted me to pay half of her expenses.

 

My dh told me to just give her $500 to keep the peace, but make sure she understood I wouldn't pay anything else. I'm thankful that I took his advice, otherwise I might have just exploded from the stress of dealing with it.

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I agree with Joanne UNLESS chipping in would set a precedent that will be thrown in your face for the rest of time--a truly no win situation.

 

In summary: She is nuts, and petty.

However, it's just $5.

Unless it turns into $50 next year and $500 the year after that.

 

So my advice would be Joanne's with the addition of a breezy note along the lines of: I'll be glad to pitch in toward that CD, and in addition will be bringing a gift of our own that I had already purchased. In the future, if we are going to combine forces to buy common gifts, let's agree on it in advance to avoid misunderstandings.

 

Yeah, I would be really worried about setting a precedent that you'll honor her unreasonable requests/demands. If you do chip in $5, make it clear that it is just this time and that you know she will clear it beforehand in the future if she wants you to chip in on something else.

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I would pay the $5 and just roll my eyes as I was doing it. $5 is not worth 15 minutes of fretting or emotional attention.

 

ETA: your sister sounds like a case, the whole history with her must be tough to take. My sympathies.

 

As much as it irks me to, I have to agree. I mean it's only $5, but I get that it's the principle too. Ugh.

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I'm going to be a dissenter. I'd write sis back and say "I'm sure Dad will love the CD. Thanks for offering to let us chip in on the gift; however, we've already purchased him a present from our family. Look forward to seeing you at the party."

 

 

 

Great response. I would not pay. I would send something similar to the above.

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There are too many posts to respond to each one. Here's a group post - please split it evenly among you:D:

 

Most of the time I miss the drama because I live thousands of miles away. I've heard from sister A that gift exchanges there have been pretty much given up on because of this sister. Nothing was ever the right thing to give her and she always let you know that it was putting her out to give you something. I just stopped giving her gifts after she wrote me this thank you note (I am not making this up): "Dear Jean, I opened your gift and thought "yuck" but then discovered that it was ok. Thank you." Somehow the fact that it ended up being ok after all, didn't make me feel warm and fuzzy toward her. She stopped sending me things too and I think we're both sort of relieved. We have all continued to give things to my parents though. (And I give a gift privately to sister A because we're close, but we don't advertise it.)

 

Sister A and I talk all the time. My brothers and I talk periodically but are happy when we do. I usually make a duty phone call to sister B at Christmas time. But I can't mention that I've talked to the others because she will get insanely jealous even though she doesn't really want to reach out to me. Last time my family and I flew out there she was reportedly reluctant to take the time to see us.

 

I don't know what happened to sister B. When we were kids, I remember her as being really fun. She's 9 years older than me and I looked up to her. Somehow, something changed. I don't feel mad at her. I just feel sort of sad and puzzled by how things turned out between us.

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I'd play all innocent (but I'm ornery that way) and send back an email along these lines:

 

"Oh, I hadn't heard we were going in together. Did I miss an email? I already bought Dad a _____. If we are doing a group gift, I guess I should put that in to the group gift, too. It cost $____, so if we split it five ways, your share would be $____."

 

But only if you are willing to "share" that gift, in case she takes you up on it, and especially if it cost more than her CD.

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I'm going to be a dissenter. I'd write sis back and say "I'm sure Dad will love the CD. Thanks for offering to let us chip in on the gift; however, we've already purchased him a present from our family. Look forward to seeing you at the party."

 

Of course, only you can decide if family peace is worth the $5, but I would really resent getting roped into something like that.

 

The housecleaning gift sounds lovely, btw.

 

:iagree:

 

My perspective: Your sister is a lunatic.

 

and this.

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I dunno . . . when I suggest "chipping in," it's usually to help out my siblings who may not have thought of a good gift on their own (that they could afford). Let's face it, some people are hard to buy for (hello, Dad). But, I can see how it would get touchy if it started to seem like a trend. My sister (who is extremely sensitive anyway) once snapped at me for making such a suggestion. So then I became more careful. Now I'm more likely to say, "have you decided on a gift for Dad yet? Here's what I am thinking of buying" and let other people suggest chipping in if that sounds like a good idea to them.

 

I agree that $5 is not worth drama, but I hope this isn't the beginning of a trend - unless that would be good for your family.

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:grouphug: We still talk about the year we were asked to "chip in" (1/4) of the cost of recarpeting dh's parents' house. We ended up paying our portion and a sibling's as well.

 

And, sadly, the kerfluffle that came from that was the beginning of the end of dh's good relationships with his siblings. They really did just see us as a way of bankrolling their Christmas presents for their parents.

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If it were me, I'd probably think of all sorts of smart answers, but in the end, would just pay the $5 in order to keep the peace over the holidays and birthday celebration.

 

Your sister does sound like a case, and definitely next year if it escalates or even continues, I'd say something.

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