Manual Eternal Presents: Accepting and Using the Precious, Intangible Gifts Others Give Us

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We know these gifts are from Him because:. It displays His power over death and satisfies our hope for eternal life. The world is full of empty promises, but God is different. Instead of promises full of emptiness, God gives us emptiness that is full of promise. Emptiness because He poured Himself out for us. If Jesus had not conquered death, leaving us that empty tomb, we would not have the reassurance of His coming back for us.

It is this reassurance that comforts and upholds me during my worst days because I know without a shadow of doubt that God has my back. His gift of emptiness keeps me from losing heart. How about you? Feel free to share! Sharing a post from December …. The sounds of Christmas are starting earlier every year. And before Thanksgiving is on the horizon, Christmas music starts playing.

In fact as I sit here writing this I am listening to my own mix of Christmas music. My taste in this has changed somewhat over the years. Now I prefer instrumental music over songs with lyrics. It soothes and calms my heart and makes me feel more in touch with what I believe Christmas should really be. Celebrating Christmas involves a host of activities. Buying—maybe making—and giving presents.

Baking cookies and other holiday yummies. Christmas trees, ornaments and decorations. Singing and listening to carols. Connecting with others. What is it about Christmas that makes us want to embrace it so completely? There are countless magazine, ezine and other online articles showing us how to create the perfect Christmas for our families. Some magazines are even completely dedicated to the Christmas theme, filled with new or traditional recipes for cookies and other treats.

They illustrate ways to decorate our homes to enhance that Christmas feeling and show us how to create to-do lists to keep track of everything that needs to be done by December 25 th. We rush around in an effort to find the best deals on gifts for friends and family. And why not? Since everything is more expensive now and our paychecks are probably not keeping up with rising prices, we need to save money wherever we can. That still means we have to actually buy whatever it takes to make them. In a frenzied effort to provide our families with the perfect Christmas, we may miss the point of the whole thing.

Celebrating the birth of Jesus because it paved the way for us to live with Him forever in heaven. Worshiping the One who made us and sent His Son to be born as a human being. I have changed a lot over the years. Now I cherish more simple things this time of year: enjoying the long-standing tradition of exchanging Christmas socks with my daughter; listening to reflective Christmas music as I am right now; reading cards and notes from friends and family.

It boiled down to the fact that our values were being undermined and our four kids were witnessing their grandparents disregard what we were trying to instill.

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We developed a single gift rule for each child and informed the grandparents that anything more would be donated. We explained that they had a right to give the gifts, and once received, we had the right to do as we wished with them. We did make an exception though for anything they wished to bring over to our home for the children to play with while they were here visiting. This ended up being a good compromise. The grandparents got to purchase whatever they wanted as long as it went back home with them. Over time, we were able to persuade them to give the kids passes to a theme park that they liked.

It was the gift that kept on giving throughout the year and did not clutter the house. It was a win-win situation which took us years to arrive at. The ultimate Mother-in-Law rule because it is rarely a Father in Law problem is that the mother is in charge of the kids and her home. I never buy any gifts for my family or even for my own son without the specific gift being recommended by my daughter-in-law. You need to clearly draw the line in the sand, and your husband needs to make this line clear to his parents or other members of his family. You should make it clear to your own parents and extended family.

Your children are small as yet, but soon your desire to establish their values will be permanently compromised by these hustlers who are running roughshod over you. My recommendation is that you establish alternate outlets for their generosity and that can include trips to parks, fishing at the local dock, visits to the library and participation in reading hour,visits to zoos and museums, walks around the neighborhood, flying kites, eating an approved lunch packed by mom in the park, visiting the fire station, visiting a farm and the list goes on and on. Have them begin to teach skills.

Blowing bubbles into the wind. Cleaning rooms. Learning to cut along the lines with child safety scissors cut out pictures from magazines. Small and large motor skills are essential to good starts in school. Try enticing them to help the children by putting together puzzles or learning simple dance steps. Your four year old child can actually begin to learn to read music. For that matter your four year old can begin to learn to read.

Your in-laws want their grandchildren to be excited to see them. This life-change will take some effort on your part to retrain your in-laws by planning simple involvement activities for them and their grandchildren so that the excitement is generated by an activity and not a gift.

Key Takeaway

As the change is made — Yahoo!! The critical element to your success is to establish an approved list of items that are allowed for your children and when they can receive them ———and make it clear that you are in charge of your children and your home. You are allowed to express your feelings. Trust me I am the mother-in-law and they must respect you because YOU are the mother.

Tell them they can give the kids each 1 gift on holidays and birthdays. The rest of the time, just spending time with the kids is really the best gift. Have you considered writing them a sweet, kind letter extolling all their virtues and then set your boundaries? Your in-laws think they know better about how to handle this situation with their grandkids than you do with your own children. This requires you and your husband to stand firm, together, on this and set a precedent that you are in charge of these decisions for your kids.

Since they are his parents, I agree that he needs to be the one to administer a tough love style conversation with them, making sure they know this is something the two of you have decided together. Now, onto less difficult things — the vacuum. I highly recommend it!

Thank you for the recommendations! I plan to read that book for sure. Also, we have that vacuum! Your first question struck me: how do you make other adults do what you want them to do, without risking making them angry? So the first thing I would recommend is acknowledging the limits to your own control, and stop feeling like if you can find just the perfect way to say it, you can convince them to listen and comply.

The second thing I would recommend is to try to understand them first. Something — or things — made them who they are. So if you really want to find a way to convince your parents not to give you so much stuff, you need to first see the issue through their eyes. This will get easier when the kids get older, because they will be able to interact more as people. For ex.

You start with the little stuff while they are young, and grow with them — my Granddad taught me how to whistle when I was 4, and how to drive a lawn tractor at 8; my dad taught me how to wash a car; my Grandma taught me how to unmold a Jell-o mold; my Granny taught me how to make jam; etc. So for now, yes, have the discussion, but have it from a place of inclusion and love and understanding, vs. So figure out in advance how far you are willing to push this to enforce your anti-materialist values, at least in your own house ITA with the other comments that you can let them keep all the stuff at their house.

You managed it, right? And without even someone like you around as a guide. But this goes back to the same issue: even if you could engineer a perfect, frugal upbringing for your kiddos, those kids may still go in the opposite direction and reject it all as a life of unnecessary deprivation. This is equally true regardless of whether the grandparents decide to be a good example or a horrible warning. And yet I survived and have become neither a monk nor a wastrel; I took the good and the bad, and I pieced everything together into what I thought was right for me.

Just like you did, and just like your kids will do. Thank you for pointing out that I should look at this situation with more empathy. You are absolutely correct that I cannot change others.


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This is a beautiful comment!!! I have hurt my in laws feelings in the past over their gifts and I regret that. Our relationship was more important than my annoyance with the stuff. Your kids will learn from what you and your husband do but ultimately they will decide when they are older how they interact with money and stuff. You just do the best you can do. Insist that your children write a Thank You note for their gifts every. As they are young, you can help them until they can write for themselves.

Surprise Gift Ball - LIFE HACKS FOR KIDS

They have to acknowledge what they got and why they like it. Aside from teaching them how to be appreciative it will serve as a reminder, to them, of how much they have received. As they age the deluge will slow down. It will become harder and harder to buy for them. I promise.

Situations change: your in-laws will age, get tired of over-giving, money situations will change and who knows what else. Take a deep breath, these are early days. Your words do sink in more than you realize. Have faith in yourself and your parenting. Vacuum: Dyson.

Hands down. Well worth the money. I think there have been some good suggestions made, would it be interesting to hear a report later of how things went. I am older, no kids, niece and nephew now adults, but this certainly does resonate when I think about giving gifts to other couples with young children. She would give us useless gifts too like little knick nacks and the such all the time. Almost everytime we saw her, finally I put my foot down and said stop giving me gifts. I know they are your family members but you need to be firm with them and tell them no. No gifts. Another suggestion might be setting a gift limit?

What seems to have worked is: 1. Communicating to my mom that I want to be the one to buy her things also. I think this one kind of got my mom in the heart, but in a good way. Talking about how happy our frugal-ish lifestyle is and hoping the seeds settle into their heads too! Letting go a bit. Giving makes my mom happy and her money is, of course, hers to spend. I know it can definitely create two conflicting atmospheres of financial responsibility and discipline, but remember, you are still their mom, they live in your house, with your rules. They will eventually learn from both examples that there is a big difference and hopefully choose the right financial path for themselves.

And of course, in every dilemma there is an opportunity, and it seems you are blessed to have many opportunities to teach your kids about thankfulness and gratitude! But sometimes it works! I have this problem with my mom as well and I also try your 1! When I was a kid, Santa brought lots of gifts. Santa only brings a gift or two per kid to my kids because my mom brings so many gifts she has done his job for him! This makes Santa a little bit sad because he enjoys choosing and giving gifts at Christmas. Hopefully she will get the message! I have the exact same problem with my in-laws.

I was raised very frugally and my husband not so much. He is definitely the spender in the family and while I have curtailed A LOT of his spending, he definitely learned it from his Mom. My in-laws live 10 minutes down the road, and while my soon-to-be 4 year old does go to preschool for half days, grandma, for the most part, watches him the rest of the day…and has been my primary babysitter for his entire life, which has saved my husband and I a ton in day care costs.

They will far outspend everyone else combined…and I have no clue how to get them to scale down. I dare not say anything as my mother-in-law may just decide to no longer watch our son if we criticize too much.


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  6. Our son can earn gold stars for picking up toys and helping take out the trash, etc. Once he earns enough gold stars he can turn them in for something he has been wanting or a treat. I would have my husband talk to his parents, but I get along with them better than he does, so there is no hope there. Hopefully, things will slow down when he starts full time school in a little over a year. Now that I read this, I would like to back up and state that my in-laws are wonderful people!

    I should be happy that my son was blessed with in-laws that want to spend time with him. I mean tis the season to appreciate what we have, right? I do not think you were complaining too much, you are just stating a difficulty you are having. Having a different view on gift giving than your in-laws, does not mean you do not love them dearly.

    We all know that! That might be hurtful to the in laws if they found out and cause tension between them and the in laws. It would be difficult for your children and you if the relationship with the in laws ended or became injured. I have a little different perspective as an older first-time mom to young children. Many of my friends have children in college or are grandparents.

    I also love toys and giving gifts. I have to work hard at reigning myself in because we can afford the toys, we all love toys, and I stay home with the kids so they have all day to play with the toys and often have friends over to play. I see your point of view as well, and you certainly have a right to set the rules for your household and a lack of clutter is lovely. I think everyone in this situation needs to give a little for this to work.

    Your husband needs to be willing to talk to his parents honestly. His parents need to be willing to cut back and honor your wishes. You may need to relax your idea of the perfect amount of toys a bit and reassure yourself that your husband turned out ok after growing up like this. Perhaps you could use a shelving unit in the garage to create a toy library where they can be checked out and returned to control clutter?

    You sound like you have a great head on your shoulders and will come up with creative solutions to this dilemma. Wow there are so many great suggestions here! My two cents worth is this: I believe I would ask the inlaws over for dinner one night and together with your husband I would try explaining in a very loving way that you BOTH love how they love your children, but that you fear they will begin to see them as deliverers go treats rather than wonderful grandparents with more to offer than toys.

    In that light, you would prefer them to put a few dollars in a jar to save for future needs every time they feel compelled to purchase toys that will eventually be thrown out. Tell them of your struggles to save for college real or imagined and your concerns for the expenses they will face as they get older…cars, insurance, college, sports, etc, and just how helpful it would be to have this little fund available for them THEN. It would also solve your concerns that your children may begin to just see the grandparents as a means to get more stuff.

    Tell them you want the children to value them for the loving people they are, not as gift givers. Be sure to remind them they are more than welcome to bring treats on appropriate holidays that you approve. They are obviously very loving and caring people who share their love through giving. If you have already done this to no avail, then, as you said, I would do my best to intercept those gifts or spirit them away when the kids go to bed!!

    This too shall pass! My husband and I lived for decades constantly playing defense with both sets of grandparents trying to undermine the rules we had for raising our children, among other things. There is no way to do this without having any kind of fallout. Every family is different. We both came from families that had a hard time dealing with the fact they no longer had complete control over their children when they became adults. In addition to my mother just plain trying to get my kids to love her better than me. Yeah, big issues here. Your kids are young, take charge now, because I promise you that it will be harder later for several different reasons.

    My in-laws got it, grudgingly, but they got it. My mom had to test the waters and she did — once. I made good on my threat and that problem was solved, too. Also, hubby needs to step up. Thankfully, my husband had no problem putting his foot down to his parents. It was my only saving grace. We all want to keep peace, but we found out the hard way that it comes at a steep price all its own sometimes. No easy way out of this one Grace. I have to admit that I am that same Grandma. I was a single mother and the father of my two boys was a non-participant after our divorce, so we got by on little.

    Spent time together doing stuff in lieu of having stuff. That is until my son pulled me aside and firmly told me to stop. I was a little hurt initially, but mostly embarrassed at my lack of thought and sensitivity. Now instead of more stuff, my focus is on the gift of meaningful time. At Christmas my gift to my children and grandchildren is a weekend together at the beach or at the mountain.

    This is certainly a tricky situation. Being up front is probably the better choice. It is a difference in lifestyle preferences and should be respected. It is wonderful that they love the children, but need to find an appropriate way of demonstrating their affection without undermining Grace or their son.

    I would speak to them one last time as a couple. Perhaps they would consider making a small donation of money to a special bank account to commemorate special events? When the children turn 18, it will be helpful to have money set aside for a car, first apartment or furthering their education and it will help them in life in a way that is more beneficial than accepting items which will eventually be donated. Nothing to add only wanted to say this was a refreshing change from the usual comments younread elsewhere! We have a pretty awesome community here and I love our readers—so full of helpful, sincere insight and advice :.

    Glad to have you with us! It might emphasize the point that kids are fond of the people in their lives for how they relate rather than the things they buy. I think you are wonderful parents!

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    And because you are you will prevail. And loving grandparents who want access to their grandchildren have a powerful incentive to accept your values. Our kids have 3 sets of grandparents and all 3 overdo it with gifts. My FIL gets a ton of cheap loud toys that break very quickly. I feel bad about the landfill, but I throw them out as soon as they break. MIL will ask for Christmas and birthdays, but she will also send random presents all year.

    Example: I sent her a cute picture of my 5 year old at the library. I mean, seriously? We were just at the library! Smile and say thank you. I had a friend in med school who had strong memories of her parents having her and her sibling choose of their Christmas presents each year and donating them to charity. Still in the box, never used. They spoke of their blessings and sharing and discussed their values with the kids.

    She loved the idea so much, she continued the practice into med school. Just as the giver can do whatever they want as a gift, so can the recipient. It might be hard at first, or not the message you want, but may help. Love them and go on whatever their choice. They will be with you such a short time.

    Relax and have the kids clean out their toys quarterly and give them to a local church or daycare, or needy family.

    Preserving your intangible gifts

    Feel blessed they have grandparents who love them and are with them. We can not always be the one in control. It is interesting that this is an extremely common issue our generation faces in raising kids! I have three children and may suggest a few simple ideas: 1.

    Make a wishlist on Amazon where grandparents have public access. I will add art materials or open-ended toys and send out an email reminder at birthdays and Christmas to keep these items in mind! A visual system for something intangible is a great way to keep the focus on giving an experience. Such as, giving a membership to the zoo? Those are such good ideas! HE needs to step up and handle this. Great Nan has taken responsibility for paying for shoes for her two great grandsons aged nearly five and two.

    Shoes are important, she knows her contribution is greatly appreciated. We ask permission before buying toys, clothes or books. Maybe you could make a One-In-One-Out policy and let the kids decide what to get rid of. They might be too young to say anything now, but eventually it will at least make them think. I agree with Mrs. FW that your husband or your kids have to take the lead on this. The givers aree not your parents, so you get to stay quiet if you even want to be present for the conversation.

    If it were your parents, your hubby would be off the hook. This entire blog post was clear, polite, and well written. Why not just let them read it? Best of luck to you and your family! My MIL is mentally ill. You never know what Christmas will bring, a huge offering of consumer madness or a paltry gift from the dollar store. Over the years we have told my daughter that MIL has different standards than we do. Not everyone is going to buy into your life choices. Kids whining? Nobody is entitled to a bunch of consumer crap at our place, sorry.

    Grandma gave it to you? Go ask there. You might never win this battle…. I wonder if reading this blog would be helpful, as a few people have suggested. Would that open up a conversation of why gift giving is so important to the grandparents? Or write a letter full of love to them? Do the grandparents ever play with the children and the toy? That is, are things taking the place of not knowing how to play or converse with very small children? Are both grandparents equally committed to gifting? If spoken to individually by just the son or just the daughter-in-law, to one individual, would that throw more light on the situation?

    Also, are the grandparents able to spend money on themselves? Start with the simplest thing: Ask them why they do this, and listen to their answers. Ask them about how it makes them feel, what their goal is, etc. And then listen, really listen. How does your request and your minimalist approach make them feel?

    Ask them what they think of your perspective. Wow, that is a tough situation. It sounds so very similar to the way I was raised. I just want to encourage you to talk to your in laws now. Your kids will thank you later! I wish my parents had stood their ground and, in a sense, protected me from the co-dependency of my grandparents. It sounds like you have already done that to some extent, and I concur with Mrs. Frugalwoods that maybe it would be a good idea for your husband to step in.

    Do they feel guilty taking care of themselves and buying things for themselves so they channel that energy into spoiling your kids? Thinking through family dynamics and the reason behind things might help you figure out what to do with the situation at hand. Scientifically proven it does wonders for our happy hormones and self esteem. BUT we also have a responsibility to teach our kids the downfalls of consumerism! This is what I did. I purchased ipads for my kids and family members could give iTunes vouchers ect. We also welcomed kindle purchases. Have a set rule of giving.

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    Gifts will be donated if you do not stay within the rules. Fortunately, my in-laws live in a different state so the deluge is much less. When we tried to ask her not to buy princess stuff not to stop buying stuff, but to stop making everything princess stuff she got really upset with us. We ask for experience gifts family passes to museums and such instead of things, and that has curbed some of it. We also pointed out that our daughter has a college fund. Funding that is a much better gift than any small trinket which will be forgotten, and my MIL agreed.

    I think she does that in addition to all of those annoying trinkets, but she does put money in the college fund every year. In her mind, having us ask her not to buy or to buy less was basically like us asking her not to hug our daughter. But my MIL was adamant on this point. We still have not found a reasonable way to curb this tendency, except to point out how small our living space is.

    Good luck to you. There are no easy answers in such a situation, even when all parties are working from a place of love. This is my in-laws too. Now all she buys are clothes during the year and some gifts at the holidays. The key was being consistent-we started to refuse to take things she got us at tag sales because saying yes occasionally just encouraged her. And after every-single-gift my husband would talk to her. Over years it finally had an impact.

    This brings back so many memories. We lived three hours from the in-laws. They lavished expensive gifts on my husband and me as well. I never managed to change the behavior, only my own response to it. But some of those responses were freeing. For one thing, I realized it was their money to use as they pleased. If they wanted to toss it in the air in front of their house that was their business.

    Then I turned our own family Christmas into a giving event. One thing I noticed over the years was that our children rarely spent money indulging themselves. We generally put financial gifts from the grandparents in a savings account at the bank. With so many gifts flowing in they never became consumers. I gave them a clothing budget and they lived within it without ever considering tapping into their savings.

    If they wanted brand name clothes, they waited for Christmas when they could shop with Grandma. My daughters still cringe when they see pictures of the one home perm they each had. A word of warning: Fighting the gifts can pit you not only against the grandparents, but also your children and, in my case, my husband. One more point: As my children entered the young adult years, I was amazed to realize how much they were shaped, for good or bad, by the values my husband and I demonstrated over the years. It turns out I had full control over one of the very strongest influences in their lives — me.

    I encourage you in dealing with all these gifts to realize that your children are learning how to deal with conflict as they watch your response to their doting grandparents. My mom is an over-spender and a hoarder, so her excessive gift giving is not only problematic for the values I want to teach my girls but also concerning for her future financial stability. However, your warning about how fighting about gifts can pit a person against their own children is one that I have experienced.

    Also, I did put my mom on a 4 gift limit for the holidays. My cousin did the same thing with her own mother not related to my mom , so that legitimized it a little for my mom. I also told my mom that four gifts per girl is still one more than baby Jesus received Both the in-laws and the kids have to know this. To ease the transition and allow the in-laws to satisfy their gift-giving urge, make a list with your kids of things or experiences that would be acceptable.

    Rather than tons of toys, maybe a vacation together? You may want to delay this for birthdays and Christmas to give the kids time to decide which gifts to give away. The important thing is that YOU, the parents, especially the blood-related parent, have to be in control. There is a book that talks about the five love languages. For some people, the way they express love is through giving gifts.

    I am one such person who loves to express love through gifts. I have to work hard to keep my gift giving in check with my own kids. We have boys who are 3 and 6. He sold it as a win-win and tried not to make too big a deal of it, then gently changed the subject. His family give much more reasonably now usually about 3 presents each, just at Christmas and birthdays and even ask what would be good to give. I noted with interest the grandmother who posted that she stopped overbuying when she realised her gifts were ultimately going in a rubbish bag. May give you some discussion points for the grandparents.

    As a semi-frugal grandmother, I understand the urge to give my grandkids what they want, and do for them what I was not always able to do for my own children. I think kids learn very quickly that what parents do is not always what grandparents do. Say no gently, kindly, but firmly, and then stick to that. I can definitely relate, as our kids have two sets of loving and generous grandparents who bestow lots of stuff upon them, all with the best intentions. So a piece of paper saying they can go to a museum, zoo, etc.

    But what about if the grandparents give the gift of the experience with grandma and grandpa? Aw I have had this problem in the past, but to be honest I embrace it now. She will be SO happy when she gets it. I think at the end of the day, it is down to your husband to lay down the law with them.

    If it was my mum, I would speak to her and deal with it. Little late to the party here, but I had this same experience. My husband did not want to talk to his parents and so I tried to do it. I had another talk with them and simply stated that if they continued to undermine our parenting we would have to lessen our time spent with them. After backing this up a few times they finally stopped. I remember doing really badly on an exam when I was 16 and going shopping to cheer myself up. Since then, if I need to cheer myself up, I don my walking shoes and head out into the fresh air.

    Grace you have my deepest sympathy. I too have the same problem although admittedly to a bit lesser degree so any advice you get I am in desperate need of as well. My in laws are not my biggest fans due to the husband and I having our own issues. It has been hard especially telling said in laws mainly the mother in law that our daughter does not need any more x but, yet we still get more and last holiday was a complete disaster she got wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too many toys and I try to ask them what all they will be getting her but, it never works.

    To her, gift certificate is very impersonal and dismissive of the reason for buying a gift, and she would never feel ok with deposited money or donations. Can you think of something at home that makes you happy? My parents live across the country and I SO wish they were closer.

    Love your idea about visiting something in the store! We have similar marketing conversations and also talking about things my 4 year old wants but your solution is a great addition. Thanks for sharing. Yep she still gets pocket money at 23!!! My mother buys for two of her five grandchildren. My children have learned a valuable lesson of rejection. Schedule online today. Nov I did it in one day. Finding meaning again. Preserving your intangible gifts. Family Wealth Legacy Passages.