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20-40-60 Etiquette---Gifting over?

by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman and Callie Athey Modified: December 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm •  Published: December 29, 2013


By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: I did read some of the responses online about gift giving, however, I would very much appreciate your guidance with a more specific situation.

We have five grandchildren who are all adults — college graduates — and are all gainfully employed. We have gifted them since the day of their birth, every birthday, Christmas and Easter. We have continued to gift them at Christmas and birthdays, but now there is no acknowledgment of the gift. None. There has NEVER been any gift to us. Yes, we do love them, but the constant rudeness is hard to take. Our birthdays, Christmas etc. are never acknowledged. I feel that if they cared about us, they would at least call once a year. What is your thinking?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: This is actually a reflection on your own children. They should have taught their children about grandparents’ birthdays and special holidays. I don’t believe your grandchildren know they are being rude or that you are feeling neglected. Let your children know how you feel.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: Have you ever talked to your children about this and told them how you feel? Do your grandchildren show you love in other ways but fall short in the gift-giving or thank-you department? Perhaps your children haven’t taught that reciprocity to their own children. There might be other underlying reasons, or excuses, about the lack of acknowledgment. Maybe it’s time to have a gentle talk with them (or your own children) and tell them that when they don’t acknowledge your gifts or even your own birthday with a call that you feel hurt, unloved or unappreciated. Then see if they have any ideas about what all of you can do to make celebrations more meaningful to the giver and the recipient, like spending that money on shared memories. Keep in mind that what you’re doing is out of love for your grandchildren and then let the rest of your actions fall into place.

HELEN’S ANSWER: Do you still give gifts to the parents of the grandchildren (your children) and do they acknowledge the gifts? The grandchildren might think they are included when their parents thank you? Just a thought.

Maybe this year, or the next holiday, you might send a card to the five grandchildren wishing them the happiest of holidays.

Children should be taught when they are young to appreciate acts of kindness so they when they are grown and in the busy world, they remember to thank people who are nice to them, with large or small gifts, along the way. You have been wonderful grandparents to them so enjoy that knowledge. Merry Christmas!

GUEST’S ANSWER: JANE JAYROE, former Miss America and television news anchor: I’m sorry your feelings are hurt and you’re disappointed in the behavior of your family. When we love our children and grandchildren we want to give to them. But when they grow up without a sense of appreciation, we have to wonder how they missed learning about generosity and gratitude. And as the “givers,” how do we change the giving dance to let them know their lack of thanksgiving is not OK? One idea would be to stop giving gifts and instead send a card saying how much you love them. Another idea would be to spend the gift money on experiences that you could share. Or you could continue with gift giving but change your expectations of a response.

I can’t help but wonder if they appreciate you but haven’t expressed it. I adored my grandparents but I’m sure I didn’t express it adequately.

It is more blessed to give than receive, but it is nice to be thanked.

Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email

by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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by Callie Athey
Freelance Writer
Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a...
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