Etiquette Questions, Answered: Holidays and Gifts
Should Holiday Traditions Ever Be Retired?
Q. My mother still fills stockings for me and my siblings (we are all in our 30s or 40s). Most of the stuff is not quite to
our liking, and as a result it goes in the garbage or to Goodwill. Would it be OK to ask her to stop? Or should we allow her
to continue because she likes to do it?
Name withheld by request
A. I commiserate, because as I read your question, the first image that popped into my head was of my mom, who annually hauls out a coffee can decorated with red felt to resemble Santa’s boot. (She keeps replacement tree lightbulbs in the toe.)
My idea of how to observe Christmas tastefully is a little different from my mother’s, and you seem to feel the same way—therein lies your discomfort with her stocking-stuffing ritual. It can be distressing to be reminded of how different you are from a beloved relative, particularly during a season that celebrates closeness. I mean, we sprang from these women’s loins, after all, so how could we have such radically different opinions about something like what constitutes a gift-worthy centerpiece?
I feel your pain. But, honestly, let your mom fill the stockings. She does it because it reminds her of when you were little. Letting her enjoy that feeling again is the nicest gift you can give her.
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