This is just me ranting a little bit on behalf of one brother-in-law and two sisters-in-law....
My brother-in-law--a totally wonderful person, that I'm thrilled to have as part of the family--received his Christmas present from his parents yesterday. A fruit basket.
I really have to wonder about these people. His dad does some pretty amazing carpentry, and has been building custom dining room sets for my brother-in-law's sisters. (For free. I saw them; they're really nice.) Several months ago, my bro-in-law was looking at buying some bookcases; his dad offered to build some for him, and he even built a prototype. However, my bro-in-law was informed that each bookcase would cost him about $200....plus tax. He had to turn down the offer, because that's totally not affordable. Incidentally, his dad gave the prototype to one of bro-in-law's sisters, for free.
Both sisters are married to guys with plenty of money; it's not as if they're in tough financial straights. His mom and dad also paid for both girls' college educations; their son paid his own way. My bro-in-law was born and raised in Texas, and just recently moved to Montana (and it's freaking cold up here right now.) It wouldn't have taken very much imagination at all to deduce that a sweater might be a nice gift--and at least it would show that they are cognizant of his location on the planet. But a freaking fruit basket? The ultimate corporate gift? How much more impersonal could they possibly get? (I haven't spoken with him; I learned of this from my sister. I'm ranting on his behalf because he's too much of a gentleman to say anything.)
I have two sisters-in-law who get the same kind of treatment from their families. They have younger siblings who are treated like 'God's gift to the planet'... while they're treated like unwanted foster kids. I've seen it in action; it's jaw-dropping. I just don't understand why; they're both really good people. It's sad when a person says she'd rather spend Christmas with your family than her own.
This Christmas, I'm going to continue to be very thankful that I have parents who treat all their kids equally....and treat their sons- and daughters-in-law better than their own families do. Parents who play favorites with their children--and continue to hurt their feelings on a yearly basis--deserve a big lump of coal in their stockings...and a big ol' Christmas cuff-upside-the-head (which I'm feeling more than happy to deliver right now.) It's incomprehensible to me how people can do that to their own kids.
Giving a gift at Christmas has nothing to do with spending a lot of money on someone, but it has everything to do with letting that person know that he or she is special. It truly is the thought that counts. Merry Christmas.