Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email

My grandchildren always expect big expensive presents from me

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 16 December 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

My grandchildren always expect big expensive presents from me, but this year I just don't have the funds to spend as I used to. I don't even have enough money to buy my daughter and son-in-law a gift. I haven't told my daughter this, but I'm dreading Christmas Day because my son-in-law's parents are going to be there and I know they are very wealthy. I can't bear the idea that my grandchildren are going to be disappointed by my presents, which I still haven't purchased yet, or that they'll start to see me as the poor relation.

Patricia Marie says...

The festive season is upon us, and for lots of people this is an exciting and wonderful time of the year. But for the many others like yourself who can't afford Christmas, it can be particularly stressful and depressing. You must not allow yourself to feel guilty - you are not obliged to celebrate Christmas by someone else's standards, and your loved ones should be understanding and respectful of your situation.

Don't be too proud to admit to your daughter you're having a tough time. Simply be honest and ask her to suggest something reasonably priced that the children would really like. Even a nice book linked to their favourite character would thrill them. Children love looking at photographs, so perhaps you could make them their very own album, to include past and present family, which will give them great pleasure, and provide much enjoyment for the whole family.

With regards to your daughter and son-in-law, you could consider sending personal gift vouchers to include anything from an offer of 2 hours ironing, to a day of spring cleaning or an overnight stay of babysitting - treats which I am sure will be very well received, and highlighting that the best gifts do not have to have monetary value. 

As for trying to compete with your son-in-laws wealthier parents, do not waste another moment worrying about this. Grandchildren love their grandparents in their many varied forms, indeed it can be the most special relationship. The true meaning of Christmas runs far deeper than a present could ever compete. Spend quality time with your grandchildren, give your daughter a helping hand with the extra work Christmas brings and remind everyone that Christmas is about love, not spending power.

That's what your Grandchildren will remember in years to come - not some present, however lavish.
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