Annie Lane: Nieces and nephews ignore our gifts

Published 5:20 pm Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Dear Annie: I am in a bit of a crush of emotions, and I am writing about a common topic that appears in your column. It is the first time I have ever written to anyone for advice, but I do want an opinion.

My husband and I have done well for ourselves by reasonable means. We have no children, and I am a bit younger and successful in my career. My husband, who is retired now, made a steady income. It was lower than it might have been, but he enjoyed his work. My job was higher-paying but more stressful, so we have had the perfect match for a happy household.

We saved and managed to pay off our mortgage in 10 years; we also paid off our cars in a few years and were able to buy new ones. We have not had to worry about credit card debt.

Without children, and his side being extremely well off, we have been very generous to my five nieces and nephews, and one nephew from my brother’s second marriage, making a total of six. We also have written our will so that they will inherit everything evenly. Every Christmas and each birthday, they receive a substantial check. They also received a special gift to celebrate coming of age — each different — but all to mark the moments when they were starting a new part of life.

We flew to their high school and college graduations, and we generously acknowledged them. As I said, we have done well. We are not wealthy but simply comfortable, and we love them. My husband has always supported every one of these indulgences.

In the past three years, we have received no acknowledgement of our gifts on my brother’s side unless we ask my brother if the kids got the “gift.” This includes a college graduation gift and some special gifts during the hard days of COVID-19. We may then receive a text. And even then, maybe not.

I am at such a crossroads. Do we stop? Do we just send a card? Or do we send a donation, adopt a family at Christmas, perhaps, in their name next year? I want to be bigger than this and cannot believe how much this has broken my heart. My one sister’s boy has also stopped sending a text to thank us this year, too, and we were so close, and his silence was so completely unexpected. These are children whom we have loved and been close to, taken on trips, and been there for when we could, although we have always lived miles apart.

And please understand these “children” range in age from 20-26, so it has become an acquired sense of entitlement. It was not always this way.

— An Aunt and Uncle Kicked to the Curb

Dear Kicked to the Curb: Why don’t you just tell your nieces and nephews how you feel? My guess is that they are completely clueless about it, and this has everything to do with their being in their early 20s, trying to figure out jobs, relationships and overall living situations. I doubt if they are consciously kicking you to the curb. They are probably so wrapped up in their own lives that they have completely forgotten. They just need a reminder.

However, if, after the reminder that you love thank-you notes or appreciation, they still fail to thank you, then stop sending them gifts, at least for a while. And explore the possibility of donating to charities in your will.

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