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deegw

Dropping someone from gift list

deegw
11 years ago

Will one of you articulate dears help me compose an email? I've been friends with a woman since we were kids. I'd like to drop her and her family from my Christmas list. I've tried to keep up the friendship but it has been ridiculously one sided lately.

I don't want to do a dramatic "you don't return my calls so I'm not sending gifts" (even though part of me feels that way). I'm open to rekindling the friendship so I don't want to be confrontational. Money isn't an issue and she knows it so I can't use that excuse. I'll still send birthday gifts but I'd like to drop that in the near future too.

I need a vague, diplomatic excuse for dropping her and her family from my guest list. Any suggestions?

Comments (36)

  • maire_cate
    11 years ago

    There are probably many of us with the same dilemma. At what point do you stop sending cards and gifts to people you haven't seen in years or when you're only communication is the once a year Christmas card.

    I seldom drop anyone from my Christmas list, but I only send about 25 cards so it isn't expensive. But over the years I have been dropped by a few people - most of them were people I worked with over 10 years ago and since retiring and moving we never see each other or email.

    I did stop giving gifts to my nieces and nephews when each of them turned 18. I followed something my aunt did with my children. When each turned 18 she sent one last gift with a note wishing them well but letting them know that 'at 18 they've aged off her list.' I thought that was diplomatic.

    I exchanged birthday and Christmas gifts with one childhood friend for 30 years - until it did become ridiculous and I wasn't sure how to stop. So one Christmas I sent a card with a note that said I valued the memories that we had shared over the years but since we haven't stayed in touch it seemed like perhaps it made sense to let time go bye.

    I also sent it early in December so that she had the option to stop sending too. She did send a card but the following year neither of us sent one.

  • golddust
    11 years ago

    I don't understand why you feel the need to announce it at all. I'd just match her silence. If the friendship is one sided anyway, it would be easy to just stop sending gifts with no explanation.

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  • nanny2a
    11 years ago

    Perhaps you could tell her that, after much consideration, you've decided not to continue sending Christmas gifts to anyone other than your own family members, and that you don't expect any gifts in return. I don't feel that you are obligated to explain "why", just that this is your decision.

  • IdaClaire
    11 years ago

    I agree with Golddust. I wouldn't say a thing - I'd just let my actions speak for me.

  • abundantblessings
    11 years ago

    Deee, if it's gifts, then just don't buy one. You can send a note at Christmas with wishes for her and her family's happiness and well-being, but stating that this year you and your family are contributing to charity commemorating your friendships instead of sending gifts. Or do as one couple we know does to all but immediate family: support a charity that sends a small gift (in this case nuts) in their name.

    If it's a guest list question, that's also easy. Just have your party, invite those who enhance your life, and move on. A card is fine to someone with whom you're not in a close relationship right now, but want to stay in touch.

    What I really hear you saying is you miss her friendship, are hurt by her actions and want to let her know how you feel. This is a tough age for many. It's also a time when we're forced to evaluate and make adjustments. Health concerns, generational changes, wanting to retreat from the madness out there or turmoil at home despite what's seen on the surface may be reasons unrelated to your actions that may have caused her to back off. She also may simply just have developed different interests and has found others who share them. Lots of reasons why we drift apart. Lots of reasons why we may regain closeness at a later stage.

    Friendships ebb and flow. If you really want to try to reactivate the friendship, invite her to a pre-theatre drinks or dinner evening out on a specific date next month. Something enjoyable that only allows a short time for talking but lets you both be entertained. If she's unwilling, give her space gracefully and let the ball remain in her court. Christmas will take care of itself.

  • deegw
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    There are extenuating circumstances - three years ago her teenage daughter was seriously ill (one of the symptoms was paralysis) and she is still recovering. I think she realizes she has been a lame friend but doesn't actually know how one sided it has become.

    So, considering her daughter's illness I don't want to abruptly stop gifts and do think I owe her some kind of explanation.

    Nanny - I do like the family only idea. My friend(?) is the only non family member on my list.

  • forhgtv
    11 years ago

    In response to your request, I would be to send something like the following message in a pretty card:
    As the economy continues to languish, several organizations with missions dear to my heart are begging for help. Therefore, our family has decided to give gifts to charities this year rather than to individuals. We will be donating money to XXX, toys to XXX and our time to XXX. We hope you will donate to your favorite cause, too. As always, we send you our love and best wishes for a safe and happy holiday and a terrific 2012!

  • forhgtv
    11 years ago

    Sorry that I repeated Abundant Blessing's idea. I was composing while she was posting.

  • deegw
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    I wish we could edit posts! I wanted to add that the friendship was getting one sided before her daughter got ill.

    We live across the country from one another so calls and emails are really our only forms of communications

  • abundantblessings
    11 years ago

    BTDT with being somewhat overwhelmed by family illnesses. So sorry to hear about the daughter as coping with serious family health challenges can be very difficult, and those not truly in the situation may not understand how physically and emotionally draining it can be. She may well realize she hasn't been able to maintain her friendships appropriately, but just can't muster the energy to do so.

    hgtv's wording is great for the routine situations, but in light of her extenuating circumstances I'd just send a more personal handwritten note right now. An email wouldn't convey the love and support you may feel or be quite the day-brightener a card would be.

    I wouldn't say much more than "Love you, wishing you joy and grace-filled days. Can I give you some relief in some way like spending a couple of hrs once or twice a month with your daughter so you can have a breather? BTW, let's forego gift giving this year so that will be one less thing to worry about.
    If you want an evening out, how about ...." That could be an offer for her to go w/ her DH or w/you. Even if she doesn't want to take you up on the offer, and in her shoes I might not as it's sometimes harder to get someone else up to speed on what the daughter's needs might entail, just your thoughtfulness will be greatly appreciated.

  • abundantblessings
    11 years ago

    Missed you last message, so forget my offer suggestion. The card with well-wishes and the suggestion to forego gift givings might be a day brightener though

  • jlj48
    11 years ago

    I'm confused. If the relationship is one-sided, why do you need to give an explanation? Just send a lovely card at Christmas time with a heartfelt note - that's it, no gift. If the friendship has been one sided, she will probably be relieved. In this day and age, lots of people are eliminating gift exchanges or doing home-made gifts instead - which I prefer anyway. Just don't do what my friend did. Years ago when I called her, her husband answered and said "the gift exchanges (between her and I mind you) are getting to be too much, and we just really need to stop it". I asked to talk to my friend and asked her if she felt that way and she said that it WAS too much. Of course I said that was fine and we could certainly stop. However, I was hurt that her HUSBAND told me and not her herself. We grew up living next door to each other and were best friends. A distance grew between us and now we only exchange birthday cards and Christmas cards, and we talk on the phone about once per year if that. I miss her but I think her husband is an a$$.

  • cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)
    11 years ago

    I would just send a lovely card as Joanie suggested. Chances are she will be relieved. I don't think any explanation is needed, especially since the gift giving as been one-sided for a while. If the same is true of birthdays, I would just send cards and notes then, too.

    A friendship can easily be rekindled without giving gifts. I would much rather have a letter or phone call from my old friends any day. In fact, just got one the other day and should probably go answer it now!

  • Oakley
    11 years ago

    Does she ever send you a card or gift, and if so when?

    If she hasn't done either, then neither should you. It's hurtful when you suddenly seem left behind, since it began before her daughter became sick.

    I also feel guilty at Christmas when I get cards from people I haven't sent one to in eons, nor have I seen or talked to in 25 years.

  • emagineer
    11 years ago

    I have had to do this with a couple of long time friends. As with you, they also became one sided. I told them that we have decided to make changes in gift giving outside of the family. No other explanation, families grow and become extended. No one seemed offended and were actually understanding. This was also a relief to me personally. It isn't easy to do this, your kindness and caring are obvious. And your gift to her is wanting to do this the right way.

  • deegw
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Thanks for all your thoughtful responses.

    I want to add that she does send gifts, albeit sporadically. This past year she sent me a birthday gift, forgot D#2's b'day completely, forgot/ignored D#1's graduation (a card would have been fine), remembered D#1's summer birthday. Other than the sporadic gifts have not heard from her in almost a year. I've sent a couple of emails and left a couple of phone messages.

    Now I just have to think up a vague and diplomatic email message.

  • flyingflower
    11 years ago

    For someone you haven't heard from in a year and before that only sporadically you don't have to say anything. Some things are best left unsaid and I think this is one of them, no need to announce the elephant in the living room. Send a card and a personal message and leave it at that. She obviously doesn't need you in her life, how rude not to reply to your emails and phone calls! I wouldn't even send the card if someone treated me that way.

  • chickadee2_gw
    11 years ago

    If she's not returning your phone calls or answering your emails, I wouldn't do a thing. She's telling you, or should I say "not telling you", that you and your family are no longer a priority in her life. I know it's hurtful, and many of us, including me, have experienced similar disappointments with friendships. I can understand her being lax in sending presents, but not returning calls or emails is just not nice. If she wants to resume the friendship, the ball's in her court. I'd probably stop the gifts anyway if I did hear from her again, and just send a card to her on her birthday and forget the rest of the family.

  • abundantblessings
    11 years ago

    Let's consider this from the other person's perspective. It's easy to be dismissive of this mother's plight, especially if you haven't had to face similar situations. I think a little empathy might be in order. Maybe some of you have, in fact, dealt with long-term critical illnesses in your immediate family and had the role of daily care-giver. A few of you may have been able to sail through without pause or inattentiveness to some other important concerns. Not everyone is able to cope with serious challenges well, and have time or emotional wherewithal to worry about their friends in the same way they might if they were not dealing with major issues. Heck, some may not be able to worry about their own well-being for much of the time. You're right, chickadee, that her behavior isn't "nice" but I can attest that sometimes it's harder to be on top of things, and maybe this lady is still reeling from her daughter's serious illness/paralysis. Having witnessed how hard it is for some families to maintain some semblance of normality under very trying conditions, I urge a little more sympathy and generosity. The hard to follow Golden Rule is apt.

  • nancybee_2010
    11 years ago

    I agree, abundant. You made some very good points.

  • runninginplace
    11 years ago

    I am in the group that truly does not understand at all why it is necessary to say anything! Actually, I am in the group that thinks this is something that cannot help but make someone feel bad, and I can't for the life of me think of a compelling reason to do that. Especially someone who seems to be dealing with a pretty serious life/family ongoing issue.

    As many others have pointed out, life is long, people's situations change and friendships wax and wane, sometimes waning permanently. Maybe that will happen this time, maybe you and your friend will reconnect. Only if you want to ensure that she doesn't ever feel warmly inclined to reach out to you again would I specifically make it clear that she is being dropped from the 'favored' list. And again, I can't come up with any reason to do that to someone!

    Ann

  • lizbeth-gardener
    11 years ago

    Ditto what AB said and more. The OP & friend only communicate by e-mail & phone calls and haven't talked in almost a year. Also live cross country. The friend's teenage daughter had an illness involving paralysis three years ago and is still recovering...that sounds very serious. This raises so many possibilities to me. So much can happen in a year! How do we really know what is going on in her life? Money isn't an issue for OP, but is it for the friend? Have they lost jobs? in middle of divorce or marital problems? Suffering from depression? Or just coping with sick child can drastically change family dynamics. I could go on & on, but you get the picture. Without a real conversation between the two parties, we are just assuming a lot.

    As Joanie said: send heartfelt notes at appropriate times and leave it at that. She may get in touch at some point and if she doesn't, you will still feel good about your actions.

  • Sheeisback_GW
    11 years ago

    I think it would be nice to send a card with a nice note inside. I also don't see anything wrong with her basically saying something like "let's forego gift giving this year so that will be one less thing to worry about".

    I'm sure her friend is aware to an extent that it's been one sided. Of course her lack of communcation isn't ok but we all know people deal differently with things.

    I'm sorry you've grown apart from your friend. I'm dealing with this right now too.

  • chickadee2_gw
    11 years ago

    Dee said that "the relationship was getting one sided before the daughter got ill." She's sent 2 emails and left 2 messages with no response in over a year. I'm all for being sympathetic and generous, but I draw the line at being foolish.

  • abundantblessings
    11 years ago

    chickadee, she also said gifts for the DDs were sporadically forthcoming this year. I have no vested interests in how deee or anyone else chooses to respond, but I liked RIP's "this is something that cannot help but make someone feel bad, and I can't for the life of me think of a compelling reason to do that." Life is hard enough, no need to pile on IMO. But lots of compelling reasons to choose to be nice I think.

  • deegw
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Everyone has their personal "line". IMO the friendship over the past thirty five years (not the relatively recent actions of the friend) deserves to be treated with a certain amount of courtesy and dignity.

    To me, suddenly pretending like she doesn't exist anymore is the foolish and immature action.

    I'm picking out a nice card, writing a short note updating her on our lives and telling her because of her circumstances that I am going to drop the gift giving.

    Thanks for all your advice and perspective. It really has helped me decide the course of action that feels right for me and the situation.

    Dee

  • cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)
    11 years ago

    Since you have made up your mind, this may seem like beating a dead horse, but I would stick to the friendly updates and not add anything about the gifts, especially the part where you are going to say, "because of her circumstances". I agree with RIP and AB that that won't accomplish anything positive and could actually result in some very bad feelings. I don't think dropping gift-giving while still keeping in touch equates to pretending she doesn't exist. If the friendship is something you honestly want to treat with courtesy and dignity, that is not the way to do it, IMO.

  • natal
    11 years ago

    Coming to this late, but I don't understand the reason to say anything about gifts. Why not simply stop sending them? Why the need for an explanation?

  • terezosa / terriks
    11 years ago

    I agree with everyone who says that if you want to stop sending gifts then just stop. No explanation necessary. If you are no longer receiving any enjoyment in the giving of the gifts then it's perfectly okay to stop.

    I wonder what kind of responses deee's friend would get from the forum if she asked us how she should feel about receiving a card from a long time friend saying that she is going to stop giving gifts because of her circumstances.

  • Happyladi
    11 years ago

    I honestly prefer to not exchange birthday and Christmas gifts with friends. I don't need anything I can't buy myself and it's always so hard to pick something out for other people. I love giving a great gift but then I know people feel they need to give a gift back.

    I would just send her a very nice card with a personal message in it and leave it at that. I don't think you need to say anything.

  • runninginplace
    11 years ago

    "To me, suddenly pretending like she doesn't exist anymore is the foolish and immature action"

    I completely agree.

    "I'm picking out a nice card, writing a short note updating her on our lives"

    Good for you!

    "and telling her because of her circumstances that I am going to drop the gift giving"

    [Channeling Miss Manners] What happened, Dee? I was reading along, smiling and nodding, so pleased to see that you were sailing along nicely there, and then you up and went rude. Or rogue, actually they seem to me to be one and the same.

    "Thanks for all your advice and perspective. It really has helped me decide the course of action that feels right for me and the situation"

    Ah, but could it be that what feels right for you may not be right in terms of doing what is best...ie, kind, gracious and in the spirit of honoring a decades long friendship.

    Perhaps you are so concerned with getting a point across to someone that your feelings are hurt that you aren't realizing you are just passing the hurt back to her. If you are realizing it and still pursuing this option, then that is a whole other issue.

    I once was castigated in an online forum for not following the '3 questions rule' in communication. And for this situation, can you honestly answer all of these questions with a hearty yes:

    Is it true?
    Is it kind?
    Is it necessary?

    Blunt opinion here: your decision fails questions #2 and #3.

    Why you are determined to make it clear she isn't on your gift list,instead of keeping her in your heart and thoughts by simply continuing to send notes, and make friendly phone calls, is unclear to me. Since you seem determined to make this woman feel badly, I suppose your choice will attain that goal.

    Ann

  • deegw
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Ann,

    I am determined NOT to make this person feel bad. That is why I have sent messages, made phone calls and have sent gifts despite lack of response from her. I'm pretty sure that she doesn't realize that we haven't spoken in almost a year and would be mortified if it dawned on her.

    I truly don't see what is wrong with saying "Since you've been so busy with xxx, let's skip Christmas gifts. It will be one less thing you have to worry about."

    Is that less kind than suddenly stopping a gift exchange that we've been doing for thirty five years? Despite her home circumstances, my friend always sends Christmas gifts. I think that ignoring our established tradition is a bigger slap in the face than a note explaining why I think we should stop.

    I must be dense because I don't get it.

    Dee

  • deeinohio
    11 years ago

    I actually think your note to your friend sounds fine, with one small change. I think (I hope I'm not speaking for her) that what runninginplace is reacting to is the implication in your note that you are stopping the exchange because of your friend: "because of YOUR circumstances" rather than owning the decision yourself, such as "WE are simplifying our gift list". It's likely your friend will breathe a sigh of relief that she also doesn't have to shop for your family this year, and really won't think anymore about it.

    I think it's wonderful you are so concerned with your friend's feelings, and I agree with you that a 35-year-old tradition has to be directly addressed, otherwise her sudden exclusion will cause your friend to feel ignored.
    Dee

  • abundantblessings
    11 years ago

    I think Deee response to RIP, "Since you've been so busy with xxx, let's skip Christmas gifts. It will be one less thing you have to worry about." conveys a different and kinder intention than what she conveyed when she wrote "I'm picking out a nice card, writing a short note updating her on our lives and telling her because of her circumstances that I am going to drop the gift giving."

    But deeinohio and RIP are right that removing the cause from your suggestion is much better. When I suggested "BTW, let's forego gift giving this year so that will be one less thing to worry about", it omitted "you" and allowed the possibility of "we." It also followed offering to provide hands-on assistance when I thought that was an option. I may have inadvertently signaled a poor choice when taken out of context, so I hope deee reconsiders. RIP's 3 questions sets the right standards for any action.

  • mitchdesj
    11 years ago

    Dee, I agree with you; might as well spell it out and then it's clear for all concerned. I did that years ago with a few people and it went very well, it seems someone has to take the lead and just say it.

  • Sheeisback_GW
    11 years ago

    "I think that ignoring our established tradition is a bigger slap in the face than a note explaining why I think we should stop."
    I agree.