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  1. #1
    alter2010 Guest

    Default How to handle Christmas & family when you temporarily have no income?

    This week, my husband is having a bilateral total knee replacement. Since he is self-employed as a farrier, our state does not offer any disability benefits to cover any of his wages while he is out of work.

    We've already requested no gifts from my family and they completely understand our financial situation so they are not "expecting" any gifts from us.

    I'm not sure how to do the same with his family. I can see his one sister (who lives 5 hours away and ONLY shows up for Christmas because she knows she'll get gifts) being difficult. Her daughters (late 20's) will probably be more understanding.

    So... how do you handle telling people you don't want to (or can't) exchange gifts this year? I can see the sister, especially, thinking that we don't want to participate in Christmas and getting offended.

    The reality is that we have to live off our life's savings in order for my husband to recover from his surgery - and we really don't have much wiggle room to buy material things.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep. 7, 2009
    Location
    Lexington, KY
    Posts
    24,489

    Default

    Just be completely honest. Tell them you have no income and there will be no presents this year. Quite frankly, if the sister gets offended, then she is incredibly selfish and it's her problem, not yours. Thick skin time.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2007
    Location
    NW Louisiana
    Posts
    5,292

    Default

    You can always make gifts. We are in a very similar situation (just found out that my doctor released me to go back to work, without telling me, and I've been on disability for 4.5 years. found out AFTER they had closed my claim and stopped paying my benefits, and I'm still under the exact same restrictions I've been under for 4.5 year, which kept me on disability!)

    Anyway, what kinds of skills do you have? Can you bake? Knit? Sew? You can do a nice photo that would be meaningful to the giftee, and go to a thrift shop or flea market to find a nice but used frame for cheap. Does anyone have young kids? Maybe offer a night of babysitting once hubby is doing better.

    I feel for you. Losing income right at the holidays sucks.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    May. 12, 2008
    Posts
    4,495

    Default

    I have always been honest, though usually I don't have to say anything - conversations during the course of the year explain my Christmas situation.

    If someone does not appreciate it, then they are not worth your time. Gifts are gifts - it is great to get them, but they should not be expected. Likewise, just because someone gave you a gift does not mean you are obligated to return in kind. It is a gift!

    I have spent several years explaining that to my mom...I think she finally gets it.

    Let your sister know you cannot afford much and they will get what you can afford. If you can bake or make something nice, great, if not - Christmas is about being with family and being thankful you have each other - not who got the best gift. If your one sister cannot appreciate that, then maybe that's just one less person you have to cook for - hey, money saver right there!



  5. #5
    alter2010 Guest

    Default

    I can bake...somewhat. Chocolate chip cookies come out pretty decent

    Part of the issue is that I am in the process of trying to finish my degree - and while my professors have been wonderful about due dates for assignments, I did have to take an incomplete in two intense science courses - which means I'll be finishing those courses over the holiday break.

    So not only do we have no extra cash, I have no extra time!

    And yes, this particular sister is an absolute joy to deal with. She would probably give me back the cookies I baked her and ask to trade them for something from the liquor cabinet. I have no problem whatsoever being the thick-skinned one, but DH feels the need to "keep peace" within the family. sigh.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct. 12, 2001
    Location
    Center of the Universe
    Posts
    7,806

    Default

    You are NEVER obliged to "give". If your respective families are at all good people they will shower YOU with gifts and expect nothing in return at this difficult time in your life; if they don't, well, life is short and why worry about offending shallow, bad people?



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    10,547

    Default

    You SIL is a total witch, and apparently has zero consideration for others. If you can afford to do presents, and have no time then it will have to be that way. The worst thing you can do is go in hock to get some spoiled brat presents, so don't even consider that either. You have to take care of you and yours, not some adult who is self-centered and mean.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov. 2, 2001
    Location
    In Jingle Town
    Posts
    35,053

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by alter2010 View Post
    And yes, this particular sister is an absolute joy to deal with. She would probably give me back the cookies I baked her and ask to trade them for something from the liquor cabinet. I have no problem whatsoever being the thick-skinned one, but DH feels the need to "keep peace" within the family. sigh.

    LOL, then give her the opened and half empty bottle.

    It's simple: Sorry folks, no money, no time. Love y'all.

    And if the lady complains, flip her a bird and have some eggnogg
    Quote Originally Posted by Bristol Bay View Post
    Try setting your broomstick to fly at a lower altitude.
    GNU Terry Prachett



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2009
    Posts
    5,726

    Default

    Is there a way you can somehow manage to avoid the sister? If it won't work then give her the cookies. If she gives them back, take them. More for you-just make sure they're a kind you like!
    If she asks to trade them for something from the liquor cabinet, go ahead - give her the half-finished box of wine!

    Been there, by the way, though it had nothing to do with surgery. It was really hard giving my dad the meager gift card I'd gotten him and then watch my stepsister (who is married to a pile of cash) give him and my stepmom a week's vacation at a spa. Now I know Dad didn't for a second use the gifts as a measuring stick, but I still felt very small. (FTR, I like my stepsister - she wasn't competing or anything, she's not that way - it's just how she gives gifts. Plus she had no idea we were struggling).

    Maybe one of the hardest aspects is having to swallow pride and tell everyone what's what.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2005
    Location
    Spotsylvania, VA
    Posts
    14,592

    Default

    Can you "regift" whatever she gave you two years ago?
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct. 31, 2006
    Posts
    957

    Default

    If you absolutely can't just put your foot down with your husband who is unable to bake cookies or do something himself for his sister, just try going to the Dollar stores or Goodwill or any thrift shop. Years ago after my divorce and before I got a decent job, I got mugs for some folks at the dollar store for a buck each. You can fill them with dollar store candy. You might want to warn her that the pickings are going to be slim this year and maybe she won't come.

    I think since this is his sister, frankly your husband should deal with this. If she is the mother of two adult children, she can take not getting an expensive gift.

    Geesh, my family has the means to give more expensive gifts but we have never done that ever. We always pick up things during the year for each other and save them for Christmas. Last year I found a 1950's table cloth with the really corny cherries printed on on it for my sister's kitchen table. She just loved it and it only cost about $5.



  12. #12
    alter2010 Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by carolprudm View Post
    Can you "regift" whatever she gave you two years ago?
    I'd LOVE to do this! It was an Amayrillis flower bulb from the Christmas Tree Shop - with price sticker still attached - $2.99!

    Damn thing never did bloom.......



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov. 2, 2001
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    In Jingle Town
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    Quote Originally Posted by alter2010 View Post
    I'd LOVE to do this! It was an Amayrillis flower bulb from the Christmas Tree Shop - with price sticker still attached - $2.99!

    Damn thing never did bloom.......
    well shucks, she is a cheapskate, too, so why do you worry?!

    Get her a bottle of 'Ripple'
    Quote Originally Posted by Bristol Bay View Post
    Try setting your broomstick to fly at a lower altitude.
    GNU Terry Prachett



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2004
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    9,067

    Default

    Be totally honest and upfront. I hope she would understand.
    MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"
    http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/f...wo/009_17A.jpg

    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2009
    Posts
    5,726

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Huntertwo View Post
    Be totally honest and upfront. I hope she would understand.
    And if she doesn't, and launches herself into a snit, she's the one who looks bad in front of everyone.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun. 1, 2007
    Location
    Harrisburg PA
    Posts
    397

    Default

    I know it is totally no use to you now BUT Aflac is a godsend.

    I am a dog groomer. If I am injured or sick and can't work. I am screwed. I pay $35/mo and I am covered if I get injured and cant work for up to a a year.

    We can not survive very long without my income.

    I picked it up due to the fact that I do have a horse and things happen. Plus also I may at some point need wrist surgery to remove a ganglion cyst and carpel tunnel. Without my hands I can't work.

    I work for a small employer. He only offers workman's comp and health insurance.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun. 1, 2002
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    12,176

    Default

    Get your husband to bake things. He needs something to do while he's at home not working and there isn't any reason he can't help you out in that way. It will not cause any stress on his knee to make some cookies.



  18. #18
    alter2010 Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by CoopsZippo View Post
    I know it is totally no use to you now BUT Aflac is a godsend.
    I agree with you. I wish I had known about it years ago. I looked into it once we found out there was no putting off the surgery any longer - and they told us they would only cover the knees IF there had been no treatment (no doctor's visits, anything) regarding the knees for 24 months.



  19. #19
    alter2010 Guest

    Default

    Thanks so much to everyone who responded. You're absolutely right, she mostly thinks of herself (and when her next drink will be).

    I will have DH make a phone call - difficult as they don't talk much because during the last conversation months ago, his sister said something VERY inappropriate regarding their mother's upcoming death (my MIL is in very good health) and how her estate will be split up. Guess she doesn't know her mother had the foresight to have a VERY detailed will drawn up.

    So I don't think I feel quite so bad about laying out our situation to her. Whatever will be, will be.

    Thanks for the support.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan. 24, 2000
    Location
    Somewhere in the Midwest
    Posts
    2,230

    Default

    Personally, I never understood the need for adults to run around buying gifts for each other, especially when they are not close, income or not. It is supposed to be for the right reason, not a chore or obligation. She should come to enjoy the visit and it is childish of her to expect gifts, what is she, 12?? This holiday season may be a good time to 86 all the gifts for the adults for good re-focus on the real meaning...



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