Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Grace: An Ungrateful Recipient

I started thinking about charitable giving in response to this post at "Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured." Nicole and Maggie listed their favorite Christmas charities.

The point being, these were THEIR charities.

So far, so good.

Grace is not so much of a scrooge that she begrudges anyone for lobbying for their favored cause, especially at Christmas when pocketbooks are likely to be open.

But I draw the line at sending donations to MY charities in the name of other people to whom I feel obligated to give a gift.

Case in point: this year a relative of mine who usually sends small gifts to my family gave cards saying that she was not gifting this year. Instead, she made a donation on our behalf to a local animal-rescue project. Now there's nothing wrong with that particular charity; it does good work. But it is SO NOT a charity to which Grace would make a donation. (Sadly, Grace is a bit of a scrooge when it comes to animals--I don't have pets, don't want pets, and have never quite gotten the "dogs and cats are just like our children" people, even though I number those types among my friends.)

It doesn't feel like a gift at all. In fact, I would rather my relative had sent a card and said she wasn't sending gifts this year--given the economy, that would have been understandable. Instead she makes unwarranted assumptions about the charities I care to support. To put it another way, I wouldn't be making contributions to Planned Parenthood in the names of certain friends of mine who I know support Right To Life.

Nicole and Maggi think I should get over it--any donation beats an ugly sweater or a bath set. (I agree about the sweater, but I happen to like bath sets!)

The truth is, I won't confront my relative. I know she means well.

But, hey! This is what blogs are for. I can at least warn YOU about my feelings on the subject.

And I don't think I'm alone.


nicoleandmaggie said...

We're not saying that when people decide on what gifts to give that they should do the donation-in-your-name thing... We're just saying that so long as they're not donating to some place you're ideologically opposed to, you might as well just pretend they didn't send you a gift at all. No sense getting upset about how other people spend their money. If they want to throw it away on things you don't care about, that's their business.

It's basic Miss Manners-- they can send what they want, you can do what you want with it. In this case, just pretend you didn't get anything. And you're not ever obligated to reciprocate. Gifts are always optional.

Louise said...

I completely agree Grace.

Anonymous said...

You're not alone. This is why i don't believe in these gifts either. If you're not going to gift, don't gift. And leave it at that. But it comes across as so holier than thou when you brag about your charitable donations that you made in lieu of spending time and effort on a gift. Ok I sound grinchy don't I?

Barb said...

A gift is not an obligation. It's a gift. And when one receives a gift in any form, one smiles, says thank you, and moves on. sorry, but im not with you on this one grace.................

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about the animals, Grace. People dump dogs and cats all over the place in anticipation of them either starving to death, getting sick and dying or just getting run over by a car. Sometimes they die a quick and easy death. Sometimes it's prolonged, like when they starve to death.

For someone who is so concerned about the needs of human beings and smelly people, what the heck should anyone care about some poor pathetic animal.

Don't worry. Obama just passed a law stating that horses can now be rounded up and killed for human consumption. Hmmmmmm. Yum. Can't wait.

Whatever you do, don't watch the Xmas movies: War Horse or Tin Tin......wouldn't want you to ever think animals have any rights.

Am I pissed?

You betcha.

As a person myself who saves dogs from kill shelters, yeah! I wish someone would gift my local SPCA money and help these poor animals in my name. Because I can't do it anymore. I've got 2 dogs already!

So what if your relative gifted your money to whatever charity? In the scope of things, does it really matter???????

This is why sometimes Liberals make me so upset! are THEE most amazing person on the planet. You make so much sense. I adore you!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you! I'm Catholic and not the cafeteria kind. I feel very strongly about right to life issues. Someone once sent me a "in your name thing for Komen" which has a very anti-life agenda, here is a link:

It wasn't planned parenthood but I was equally offended. At the time I worked with kids from the projects in East St. Louis, rescued a dog, visited prisoners and was a mentor. She could have picked from dozens of organizations that I would have donated to or sent nothing at all.

Grace. said...

Morrison--if I gave money to an animal rescue project, it would make sense because I'd know I'd picked a charity you support whole-heartedly. It's perfect for YOU. But it would NOT be quite so perfect if you did the same for me. It would simply show that either you didn't know me well or you didn't care what I support because your intent was to support YOUR pet charity (all puns intended!).

It's not a liberal thing (my relative in question is pretty conservative) and it has nothing at all to do with Obama. I don't have anything against animal rescue charities--there is a need for them and the one my relative chose has a great reputation. It's just that it's not a charity I choose to financially support.

I don't think either of us will be donating to political parties in each other's names anytime soon.

betty said...

I can't remember, but this may be the first time I'm commenting on your blog. I think I would have been a bit miffed about this too. However, I have in years past asked my family instead of giving gifts to each other if we could make donations to worthy causes and I asked them specifically for what worthy causes they wanted me to donate to so I got a list of their charities, not just randomly chose my charities. We only did it for one year though, LOL, I don't think they embraced the idea like I embraced the idea.


Barb said...

Grace. I agree that it is not a liberal or conservative thing. Obama has nothing to do with this one, and horse is as edible as buffalo or squirrel or venison or anything else, lol. I do understand your point, regarding donations. If it were I, I would donate to an agency I knew the giftee cared about.Unfortunately however, as I said before, a gift is a gift is a gift

Living Almost Large said...

interesting question

Grace. said...

Hi Betty--please feel free to comment anytime.

Barb--like Morrison, I love your comments as well. I don't always agree but the points are thoughtful.

Songbird said...

I can still remember when my grandmother, a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, was sent a birthday card from Jimmy Carter for her 90th birthday. I'm sure someone solicited it for her for a joke. It got the old girl revved up, that's for sure!
One way to cure it is to donate to something that is sure to make their blood boil. Vengeful, yep, but effective!

priskill said...

I get it, that all gifts deserve a "Thank you very much!" and a smile, even ugly sweaters , even, by God, aromatherapy candles. It truly IS the thought, etc. The good will of the giver is no small thing. And certainly this donation will do good in the word .

But, I also see your point -- it seems intended more for the giver than the receiver. Maybe she was just so jazzed about this issue, she couldn't imagine anyone having a lukewarm response. Maybe it is actually a compliment to you -- she likes you enough to assume similar tastes and passions, possibly the highest compliment you can pay someone. It is irksome for assumptions to be made about our beliefs -- plenty of letters here and at Nicoleandmaggie make that point, but ultimately, we thank and smile and privately grouse -- seems fair to me.

Now, about those Hi-Ho Silver burgers . . .

lita1857 said...

I LOVE that people can have different opinions but are civil.I agree with both Grace and Morrison at the same time!Grace the gift thought should be about you,Morrison I so agree about animals with you.Really just love smart women and blogs who print both sides of the coin.And since it is your blog I think you get to say whatever you want.

444 said...

I disagree with Barb and Morrisson here. I'm not sure they got the point.

Here's how I feel (and I bet it's much like you feel, Grace, but correct me if I'm wrong):

Make a donation to anything, if you want. Put it in my name, though, and you may or may not have assumed correctly that I'd endorse it and be pleased with having my name attached.

But don't call it a gift. If you do it in lieu of a gift, it's not fooling anyone - it's not a gift.

Think of it this way: Suppose your Aunt Sally sends you a card explaining that this year, instead of sending you a $20 check that she typically sends and/or was thinking of sending to you, she's decided instead to send that check to your nephew Johnny and put your name on it.

Did Aunt Sally give you anything? Maybe she gave you credit for having sent Johnny $20, but she didn't give you a gift, or if she considers granting you responsibility for having given someone else something a "gift," it's definitely not the definition of gift that most of us agree upon.

It's not a bad thing to do, but it is a little presumptuous (just give in your own name if you want to donate to charity!) and it certainly doesn't qualify as a gift to the person who got nothing except their name used.

A certain aunt gave my kids a certificate saying that she donated some money to save the llamas or something in South America, I think. Why did she attach my kids' names to her donation instead of just putting it in her own name and bragging to all of us about her philanthropy? So she could feel less guilty about getting my kids nothing, of course. She should have just been straightforward - the kids weren't expecting anything from her and I think they thought about the llamas for the .5 seconds it took to read the "gift card" she sent.

Grace. said...

Yep, 444--that pretty much sums up my feelings as well.

Anonymous said...

If it makes you feel better, you can mentally regift it to us!

Anonymous said...

I can see your point. However, I have done this a few times for gifts within my family. Specifically, my Dad and his wife, and my Godmother. These people are financially secure and don't need anymore stuff. Plus, I HATE trying to figure out what to get them each year. They know my husband and I support these particular charities, both of which help children without parents to be adopted into permanent families (we adopted from foster care). I also asked their permission to do this first -- and I send them the tax receipt. I can say that I would be unhappy if someone said they were donating for me to a cause that I really disagreed with, but otherwise I can't see that I would mind at all.