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Saturday, July 03, 2004


I'm mad. G and I are reasonable people. We think we're making a good effort and doing a decent job of raising our daughters. Why then do people feel the need to override our decisions?

When we ask, politely, that the kids not get toys for their birthdays, it's not that we are mean or rigidly Spartan. It's that we live in 500 square feet of space. What about art supplies? Clothes? Sports equipment? We have them, more than we need, more than we can use, thank you. Books? Sure, and gift certificates are always appreciated so the kids can choose their own, or maybe renew the subscription to their favorite magazine. A simple card will do. Kids love to get their own mail. If you feel that is not enough, stick a few bucks in it. The kids will be thrilled.

Same with Christmas.

People don't seem to understand, even though I have tried to explain as gently as possible, that the majority of holiday presents they receive go straight to G's Haitian employee or Goodwill. And Easter, Halloween, and Thanksgiving are not gift-giving holidays, nor does Santa or the Easter Bunny leave additional treats anywhere other than our house.

When we say we are not coming over to the east coast so you can present the aforementioned unwanted gifts, that means, we are not coming over. Please don't continue to ask. We prefer our celebrations here, at home. If we do happen by necessity to travel over to your side, we do not need to celebrate the birthday multiple times with each set of relatives. Birthdays come once a year. Once. It is much easier for those of you without young children in your household to come see us than it is for me to break up our delicate routine, pack up the four of us, make necessary preparations for the care and feeding of the cat and hedgehog, and drive six hours roundtrip. You are always welcome here. How many times have you been over to visit in three years? Once or twice? Still insist on a present? Stick it in the mail.

When we decide that, unfortunately, the girls will not be flying up to meet their beloved cousins in New Jersey when they come to visit from London this month, and will have to wait until Christmas to see them, don't insist on asking again and again, especially in front of them. We were not planning to let them go, not because we can't afford it, so, thanks, but no thanks for the offer of tickets, but because we recently spent one whole month traveling up the east coast and now it's time to get back to schoolwork. Why is their home education such a concern to you all year, but inconsequential when it suits you? We aren't comfortable with them traveling great distances or being away from us for extended periods of time. I know it is difficult for you to understand that, but please respect our wishes. Don't continue to manipulate us by having the nieces call and ask, at your behest, if the girls could please, please, please come up.

As it is, this last issue has caused a great disharmony in our home. G is ready to throw in the towel and allow the two older girls to fly up with my father, but not before giving everyone a piece of his mind. It is easy for them to ignore me, but G is so easygoing and diplomatic, that when he speaks, like E.F. Hutton, people listen.

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