Wedding Gift Mayhem | TV: The Forbidden Frontier | Grandma’s China Cabinet


Wedding Gift Mayhem

Dear Micah,

My niece is getting married soon.  My plan was to buy her something useful for the house as my present to her.  My sister, also her aunt, asked if she could go in with me on a gift so that we could get her something even better together.  I agreed, thinking she meant something like an expensive mixer or a good quality microwave.  Stupid me lets my sister pick it out, and she goes to a dayspa and gets a certificate for his and her massages!!!  I am furious.  I should have just left well enough alone and stuck with doing something myself.  When my sister asked me for my half of the certificate I told her I wasn’t paying it because that was not what we had discussed.  Now she’s furious with me as though I did something wrong and its turning into an out and out feud.  Don’t you think I have reason to refuse to pay her half of something I didn’t even want to get her?  If you think I’m wrong, please tell me and I’ll pay her but I really think I’m in the right here.

JC

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Dear JC,

I don’t think this is that big of a deal.  I think you’re having a bit of an outsized reaction to something that isn’t all that serious.  I agree that a spa gift certificate isn’t the same kind of wedding present as a Kitchen Aid mixer, but in the big scheme of things, is it all that important?

Your niece is going to receive a lot of gifts and most of them will get lost in the shuffle and forgotten once the thank you cards are written.  She isn’t ever going to remember who gave her what, but maybe a spa day with a couples’ massage is something she and her husband might remember and enjoy.  Again, I am not saying it’s a great wedding gift, but I don’t know too many people that are going hate being pampered for a day.  Your sister might have thought this would be a cool gift for the two aunts to give instead of a boring old kitchen appliance.  And it is 2014 after all; most people who get married already have household items in one, if not both, of their pre-marriage homes (unless your niece is marrying very young).  I just don’t think it’s a big enough deal to start a war with your sister over.

Ultimately, all you two are doing is ruining your niece’s day, because now she has to worry about her two crazy aunts ripping into each other at her wedding reception.  Every gathering and every party will be tense and awkward because you two are feuding.  End it, give your sister the money, tell her you overreacted and know that you overreacted, and make nicey-nice before the most memorable thing about your niece’s wedding is that you two made it uncomfortable.

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TV:  The Forbidden Frontier

Dear Mr. Micah,

My children do not watch television.  At least not often.  We believe in occupying the mind in other, more productive ways.  We don’t push our beliefs off onto others but we do expect others to respect our stance.  The problem is that my in-laws watch a lot of TV and we rely on them to pick the kids up after school two days a week.  The kids watch TV over there and come home whining because they cannot watch it at our house.  I feel like my in-laws are disrespecting our values and directly trying to undermine us.  My husband believes as I do, but he makes excuses for his parents and says they just don’t get our point of view, but he doesn’t feel like arguing over it.  I feel more strongly about it and I want to have a conversation.  Tell me what I can do to foster a good dialogue without causing friction.

Olivia

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Dear Olivia,

I am probably the wrong person to be asking, because just about everything I ever learned that was valuable in life I learned from some sort of TV program.  However, I do know a few people who believe as you do and limit their kids’ television watching.  I feel a little conflicted on this question, because on the one hand, I do not think it is right to willingly go against a parent’s wishes if you have volunteered to watch their child, but I can also see that their generation just doesn’t grasp the idea of no television.

I am an older parent–I am 41 and my kid is 4.  I am probably more of your in-laws’ generation in that I just would not even think anything of letting my grandkids watch cartoons or some TV show in the afternoons.  It wouldn’t occur to me that that might not be okay.  However, if I knew that my son and daughter-in-law did not want their kids watching TV, I would obey their wishes as long as the kids were in my house.  So, I do not think you are wrong to sit them down and just politely remind them of your wishes.  They probably just don’t think it’s a big deal, so you need to gently and respectfully make them understand that it is a big deal to you.

With that said, keep in mind that they are going to be far more open to you if you are understanding and calm.  Do not say anything about how you feel “undermined.”  That is a loaded and hostile word that is sure to make them defensive and argumentative.  The idea here is to get them to do as you wish, not alienate them.  Remember, you need them to watch your kids, so do not piss them off.  You also need to be prepared for them to counter your points.  Clearly they see no harm in television, and they are probably going to feel inclined to tell you that they think your way of thinking is wrong.  Do not get defensive if they do.  You have opened up a much needed discussion between the four of you, and so all sides should be discussed, even theirs.

Ultimately, the final decision belongs to you and your husband, and if they are responsible grandparents, they will comply, but they do still have a right to have their opinions heard as long as their opinions are constructive and informed.

Now, because I am a know-it-all loudmouth with an opinion on everything, and because the whole reason most people even write into me is to get me to rant on some subject,  I have to weigh in.  I know that I am not pointing out anything new to you or that you haven’t thought of before, but I still have to point it out: your in-laws’ house is not the only place your kids are going to watch television.  They are going to have friends, neighbors, and cousins who all have TVs turned on.  You cannot expect everyone to shut off their television when your kids come in.

It’s different if it is someone who has agreed to watch your children for you as your in-laws have.  In my opinion, they are signing on to follow your rules. However, the same doesn’t go for homes your kids casually drop into.  Your kids are going to see, or at the very least hear, about shows and cartoons and characters that their peers are watching.  That is part of their peer group’s socialization.  Pop culture topics are the main focus of conversation with kids.  It was true in my time, it was true before my time, and it is true now.

I understand wanting your kid to be smarter and more well-rounded–I bet most adults would agree that it’s better to take a nature walk than to watch an episode of Uncle Grandpa (that is an actual cartoon)—but kids need to fit in, too.  Not too many kids care to hear about the flora and fauna of Oak Mountain.  200 years ago, reading books with romantic and adventurous characters was pop culture.  If they had had The Wizards of Waverly Place then, they’d have tossed their books to the floor and watched it.  So, my point is that perhaps while you are trying to get your in-laws to eliminate the TV viewing that goes on at their house, maybe you should simultaneously begin to introduce some frivolous TV watching in your own house that can be monitored and timed by you.

TV isn’t meritless.  It has informed us, bettered us, and opened the world to a more sympathetic look at other people and their cultures, beliefs and lifestyles.  I see TV as a people unifier and I’d hate to see a kid grow up without it in some aspect of their lives.  With all of that said, the decision is ultimately yours and your husbands and no matter what I, your in-laws, or anyone else believes. It is your duty to raise your children to be the best people they can be, and if you truly think it cannot be done with a TV involved, then your in-laws need to do as you ask.

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Grandma’s China Cabinet

To Ask Micah,

I gave my daughter my grandmother’s old china cabinet because I wanted it to stay in the family.  She painted it.  Painted it!  Painted over the beautiful wood and stole all the sentimentality out of it.  It looks like something she could have just bought in a store.  I can’t believe she painted it.  I am so mad at her.  She told me it was hers to do with what she wants and she likes it like this.  I told her she had no sense of sentiment and connection to the past and we got into a big fight.  We’re fine now, but I still get mad again every time I go into her house.

Beckky

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Dear Beckky,

That was more of a statement than a question, so… thank you for sharing that, I guess.  If you want my opinion on the matter though, I’ll tell it to you.  Yes, she painted the china cabinet.  She also probably painted her kitchen cupboard shelves and maybe the walls in the bedroom.  She has probably painted a lot of things that don’t belong to you.  That cabinet was one of them.  Unless you gave that to her under the strict understanding that it was to be kept in its natural state, she didn’t do anything crazy.  She just took a piece of furniture with an emotional tie to her family’s past, and she made it over to also be able to fit into her present décor.  She probably thought it was a masterful way to blend sentimentality with today.  I can understand that.

I also understand your side.  I have several sentimental pieces in my home that do not fit with my design, but I refuse to alter them because in my head, that would eradicate the connection to the people who used them.  Some people just think along different lines when it comes to keepsakes of yesterday, but neither point of view is wrong.  Basically, Beckky, just get over it.  You didn’t tell her she couldn’t paint it, and if you were so emotionally protective of the piece, then it shouldn’t have left your possession until you were ready to truly let go of it.  It’s out of your hands now.  The china cabinet belongs to her to do with as she likes.

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