The following post is from staff writer Melissa Batai

“With —–‘s birthday coming up, we thought we’d ask for 4 items that he will really get a lot of use out of in the coming months. I provided my mom and sister-in-law with a list of 4 other items that —– would like for his birthday so that they can buy from their list and avoid duplication. We’re asking for gifts only from grandparents and the direct aunt/uncle from —–‘s birthday party, and similar to Christmas, would like to restrict it to 2 items total per household.”

So begins a much criticized e-mail that one parent sent to relatives regarding presents for her one year old’s birthday party. I’m sure she didn’t expect the letter to go viral, but it did, and people all over the country are weighing in.

The letter goes on to offer 4 specific toys that they would like as well as links to the stores selling them. The sender goes on to ask that if people veer from the list that they include receipts so the presents can be returned if they are unwanted/unneeded.

Why This Letter Makes Sense

In some ways, I get the sentiment of this letter. I’m a mom to three, and when my oldest was born, we got some crazy gifts. He was born in the summer, but one relative gave us a thick winter outfit, size 0-3 months. There was no way he would ever fit in that for winter, so I returned it. Because I didn’t have a receipt and the buyer had purchased it on clearance, I only received $3 back. Honestly, the return wasn’t worth my time.

My oldest was also the recipient of 8 to 10 baby blankets. I mean, how many baby blankets can a kid use? We kept them all and used them for all three of our kids, but we had some we still didn’t use. When gift givers buy their own presents without input from the parents or a registry, there can be a lot of duplication.

My kids have also received some presents I was less than thrilled with like loud musical instruments or cheap dollar store toys that just break quickly. While the giver’s intentions were good, I could have done without those toys.

Why This Letter Should Be Burned

However, I understand why this letter incensed so many people. The letter writer is beyond controlling. People want to give gifts to your child because they love him. One of the ways they express love is through the gifts that they give. When you control specifically what they can give, such as a specific water table from Walmart chosen because of the way it drains (as this letter writer chose), you give them no latitude. Buying a gift becomes just a way to donate money to you and your family. A better option is to suggest certain types of gifts such as outdoor play toys or board books and let the giver chose the specific one.

The letter writer also sounds ungrateful. Honestly, she makes it sound like having her child receive gifts is a big hassle because nothing is what she wants him to get. She sounds as if she’d rather just get cash to buy the things she wants.

I can see why the recipient of this e-mail was upset enough to post it online.

My Question for You

What is your opinion of this letter? Do you understand where the writer is coming from? Do you sympathize with her, or do you vilify her as many online readers have? How do you handle presents for your children?

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