Few seasons will drain your bank account to a husk with the force of the winter holidays. When you're trying to live on a budget, sometimes gifts have to get cut.
In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a woman asked if she was wrong for telling her family she won't be able to get them Christmas gifts this year. She wrote:
I (26) F am a single mom to my son(3) and work 3 jobs now to support the two of us. Christmas time has always been a bit difficult, however, this year is by far the worst. I took on a third job to help get us an apartment, however because of this, my gross income is now “too much” to receive food stamps, so I lost over $600.00 per month because of this.
The apartment I got was the cheapest I could find without putting us in a bad area and also within a school district that could provide the services my son needs. I should also mention this year, we found out that my son has autism, so there are certain foods he will eat and tons of foods he won’t even touch. Mix this in with a lactose allergy, and everything that he will eat adds up.
I have been stressing out about how I was going to get my family and my son presents this year due to finances being extremely low. I always get very anxious about the holidays and gift-giving to begin with, but knowing that I can’t afford it this year has been weighing on me. In total, with just immediate family on both sides, I have 24 people (including my son) to get gifts for.
I have tried to suggest doing a white elephant or secret Santa to cut down the list + cost, however, one side of my family said no and the other agreed but ended up buying everyone gifts anyway. After thinking it over, I realized that this year I was only going to focus on my son, parents, two sisters, and my nana. So, I thought the best idea was to have the talk with my nana first to see what her response was.
To my surprise, when I mentioned this and explained that I just couldn’t afford to get everyone presents this year, her response was the opposite of what I was expecting. She at first just stared at me, and then said that I could find a way to “make it work”. I explained that the only way would put me in tons of debt, and it would be different if our family’s expectations in a gift weren’t as costly.
(For context, gift cards/memberships aren’t allowed, each gift has to be over $25) She then proceeded to tell me that I was being lazy and if I really wanted to “try” this year, then I would figure it out. I gave up trying to explain and just moved on. Now she is telling my family and they are divided.
Some say I am just being lazy and can do it if I really wanted to while others are saying that I can choose to get gifts for whoever I’d like. I’m starting to feel conflicted. So, AITA?
NTA. Your priorities right now are being able to support yourself and your son. Working 3 jobs to accomplish that is no easy feat! I salute you! Let everyone know that you already made plans this Christmas and you won't be able to see them this year. They don't need to know that you and your precious son will be in your new home spending the holidays with the ones you love most: each other!
Get your son some special gifts, have a meal together, and enjoy. You deserve it!
EDIT: Your Nana and others may be quick to judge and criticize but you don't mention anything about them giving you money to help you with your rent and bills.
NTA. A way to tell them to stick it nicely would be "Sorry, but I find myself severely limited this year in being able to participate. So not only will I not be giving anyone but (son) a gift this year, I will not be accepting gifts for myself. None taken, none given. If you find that it bothers you that I'm removing myself from the gift aspect this year, maybe ask yourself why."
"If you choose to punish (my son) by not giving him gifts to spite me, you go right ahead. That will tell both of us where we stand. Because right now? I'm on the edge and none of you are on the stable side offering to pull me somewhere safe. You're all just expecting me to fly. I can't."
"So since the actual meaning of the holidays are lost on you, which is family and togetherness, I think it's best that I be with the family that matters to me most. And that's the one that isn't expecting me to put myself in debt for a frigging bauble."
NTA. You are not obliged to give anyone a gift and the standards your family are setting are frankly insane. Minimum 25 dollars with over 20 people who you need to buy gifts for is a huge investment, that's over 600 dollars from your budget and that's not even factoring in the time spent. I don't know anyone who does gifts like that for the entire extended family, because it's just far too expensive.
It's very reasonable to say that your budget can't cover that extravagant a Christmas. You could give small handmade gifts to some people if you really wanted, or just do as you said and not do gifts this year. The only option available that would make you an asshole would be spending money you can't afford on gifts for people who are being really unsupportive to you.
How dare these people expect you to go into debt to satisfy some imaginary dollar minimum for gifts?! When times are tough, you find out who your friends are, and people show you who they really are. You've now learned a lot about your family - and some of them are damn mercenaries, including dear old grandma.
You do what YOU want to do, and can do this Christmas, and eff everybody who can't deal with it. I'm aghast that anyone would tell a single mother working 3 jobs to try harder. NTA!!!
NTA. That's horrible of your nana to insinuate that you are lazy when you are working three jobs to support you and your son. And these "rules" of your family -- especially that of the gift having to over $25 per person -- are nuts, inconsiderate, and greedy AF.
OP is NTA here, she's clearly dealing with some entitled family members.