He Said, She Said: Grandma hijacks ‘new’ wedding gift, leaving givers in difficult situation Print E-mail
Thursday, 13 August 2015
By Shaun and  Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

This may sound like whining, but I have to get this off my chest.

My wife and I went to a wedding of one of her cousins … a cousin, I might add, that my wife had not seen in 10 years and I had never met him. Still, my wife insisted on a nice wedding gift, and we bought them a microwave oven.  

At the reception, I noticed the bride’s grandmother switching tags on our gift with hers.  I immediately told my wife, and she said not to say or do anything about it. Then, when gifts are opened, the one with our tag on it turned out to be a used set of cookware. At first I felt bad, because I figured old granny couldn’t afford something new, but then the bride starts busting us out on our “gift” in front of everyone. My wife could see the steam coming out of my ears, but I held my tongue. Then, to really rub it in, the bride added a comment to the thank you card about our “thoughtful” gift and said yard sales are a great source of gag gifts. (Actually I was surprised we got a thank you card.).

I say we need to set the record straight, but my wife says, “Why bother.” My wife said that either the bride would not believe us at this point, or we would wind up causing ill feelings among their Family. And either way, it’s not like the cousin is in our circle of friends. Still, I don’t want to be thought of as a deadbeat gift giver.

HE SAID:  Considering the lack of any real relationship here, I would tend to take your wife’s approach and let things be. I don’t foresee any good coming from you diming out Granny, whom she probably does have a relationship with and who most likely does have some serious financial constraints; however, anyone who would engage in such deceitful and deliberate actions is  not someone I would want in my life.  

Having said that, I can sense this will continue to eat at you and will likely become a growing source of tension between you and your wife, so you need to talk through all of the pros and cons of “setting the record straight.”   

We have all been in situations wherein someone else either received or took credit for our actions, and I would venture to say we all felt cheapened by the experience; however, at what point is the cost of pitting the entire Family against each other is your need for recognition overridden?  If it was someone I had a relationship with, or even cared what they thought of me, I would probably obtain a “gift receipt” and send it to them with a note that read something to the effect of “In the event you decide you didn’t like or need the microwave we gave you, here is the receipt for you to return it”.  But, I would leave it at that whether you got any response or not.  Honestly, my recommendation is to realize that the point of the gift was to help set the young couple up for a successful life, which you did.  The fact that someone else got credit for it really should not be a major factor in the spirit of the gift.  

Some of the nicer things I’ve done for people I have done completely anonymously, and I gain my sense of satisfaction in the fact that I helped and in the fact that nobody knows it came from me.  I guess the bottom line question for you is, “Why did you buy the gift you did”?  If it was for the recognition, you clearly need to say something to achieve that at this point.  If it was to help the new couple, you did that.  Let’s just hope there is something to this whole karma thing.

SHE SAID:  As difficult and as painful as it is, I have to say you need to listen to your wife.  

If grandma is “old and senile” I would say keeping quiet and letting her get credit for the better gift may be a gift to her.  Since she was from the bride’s side, and the groom was your wife’s cousin, the likelihood that you ever see her again is pretty slim.  I also agree that making an issue of this may cause a lot of hurt feelings and finger pointing.  

Considering you see this cousin once a decade and grandma probably sees her on a regular basis, you may cause a rift that leaves you and your wife painted as the bad guys, even if she admits to switching the tags.  I know it makes no sense, but its human nature.  The only way this would be resolved is if grandma  became overwhelmed with guilt and confessed independent of anything you say or do.  Otherwise, nothing you do or say could make it better; only worse.  Consider this a “live and learn” moment.  

As ridiculous as it may seem, from now on, put a separate note inside the box/wrapper.  That way, even if the tag or card gets switched or falls off, the real giver will be apparent.  

By the way, I don’t consider your question as whining.  I’ve been in situations where Family and friends have taken advantage, and it is hurtful.  The only thing you can do is be the bigger person, and let it go. Someday, you’ll find the humor in it.

(Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 26 August 2015 )