Dear Patricia Marie, My grandchildren always expect big expensive Christmas presents from me, but this year I just don't have the money to spend like I used to. I can't even afford 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're very wealthy. I can't bear the idea that my grandchildren are going to be disappointed by my presents or that they'll start to see me as the poor relation. What do you suggest?Patricia Marie says...
For most people who can't afford Christmas presents, the situation can create feelings of worry, disappointment and stress. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty - you are not obliged to celebrate Christmas by someone else's standards.
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 two hours' ironing, to a day of spring cleaning or an overnight stay of babysitting - treats which I am sure will be very well received. This will also highlight the fact that the best gifts do not have to have monetary value.
As for trying to compete with your son-in-law's wealthier parents, do not waste another moment worrying about that. Grandchildren love their grandparents in their many varied forms, indeed it is the most special relationship.
The true meaning of Christmas runs far deeper than a present could ever represent. 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.
Have a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.
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