Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why am I an ungrateful bitch?

Seriously if somebody knows the answer please tell me. This is one of those life lesson things I need to learn. Reasons I need to learn how to be grateful:
  1. Feeling like a total shit when being an ungrateful bitch
  2. Bad example to sisters
  3. Not appreciating whatever is there waiting to be appreciated
Josh's parents gave me some really great Christmas presents. I know that Laurie and Josh went shopping together, stressed over picking out specific things, and Josh took all responsibility if I hated the clothes they gave me. Laurie and Tom got me 2 pairs of boots, 2 corduroy skirts (black, gray), and two sweaters (red, light blue). Plus they gave the three of us a set of really fancy luggage. Although Josh told me later it's not "that" fancy, because you don't want fancy luggage since people will assume fancy luggage holds expensive things and then will steal it. It's like a whole different side of street smarts I don't have - like the rich people's street smarts. Somebody should write a book for that.

Anyway, those are all the presents I opened. We ate, we opened presents, we ate some more, we played with all our new stuff, we cleaned up, it was great. Laurie and Tom left. Josh told me there was one more present his parents left in our bedroom. It seemed weird. We went into the bedroom. I stopped short. The bed had been re-made. With different bedding. Totally different stuff.

They gave us new pillows, new sheets, new comforter, new throw. The whole thing. Josh was really excited. He and Tom had snuck in to do this while dinner clean-up was happening. Honestly, I felt like I'd been punched in the chest. Then I felt really glad Josh's parents had already left and I didn't have to face them to say thank you right away because I was on the verge of crying.

I don't know why. I'm still not happy about it. Danielle and Alex didn't really get it either. Apparently Josh gets new bedding every year. What happens to the old stuff? He doesn't know - it's given away or whatever. Why new stuff every year? Because. That's it. Because it's nice to have fresh new stuff once a year. This slays me. But I did pull my shit together and called to say thank you when I could do it without crying.


Lisa said...

Hmm...2 things going on here. One is autonomy, the other is recognition of autonomy.

1) Josh's parents come from a completely different place---having always had enough money and the autonomy to do what they want. You've had a ton of responsibility but none of the autonomy, none of the freedom to make the choices you want. Picking out bedding took you forever, if I remember, and that was a big deal, because you've always had to make do with the cheapest option and what someone else told you to do (in everything else in life too, right?). Picking something pretty, that you like, in your own home was a big deal to you. That was YOURS, not picked by Aunt Elaine or anyone else, and not constrained by other people's choices. You were in charge, making an adult decision to your liking.

Its not a big deal to Josh's parents, nor do they recognize that its a big deal to you, because they've never been under those kind of restrictions.

2) It sounds like Josh's parents still sort of see him as a kid, and its ok to make choices for a kid (especially if the kid doesn't care about what's being picked). You wouldn't dream of walking into Josh's mom's living room and redecorating without her permission, but essentially that's what happened to you. They didn't recognize your autonomy.

It sounds like they were trying to do something nice but didn't see how that would make you feel. If at some point in the future you want to address this, you could say that while you greatly appreciate the thought, its very important to you to make your own decisions and thus a gift certificate to a home store would be a better choice.

Lisa said...

at least, that's my armchair psychologist version, anyways.

Anonymous said...

I think Lisa's take on the situation is right on. Also, giving new bedding is a little...presumptuous, I guess? What you sleep on is a very personal thing. Sheets are one thing, but I would be VERY taken aback to find my bed remade with a new comforter I hadn't picked out. It's something parents would do for their children, but not something most adults would do for other adults.

Tam said...

I think the title of your post from 12/26 about sums it up..."It's MY Home."
I agree that it's something an adult does for a child. Lisa is right on the money.
You, however, were very adult & polite to call & thank them later.
You're not ungrateful ~ you're independent! T

Anonymous said...

As you described in the last post, you had just experienced having a home that is yours and both the control and the freedom that comes with that. In this incident, that control and freedom were taken away.

It can be shocking when one suddenly finds one's environment changed. It can be traumatic when one's meaningful belongings are done away with. And you've experienced both under atrocious conditions in the past, so it brings up a lot now.

And then of course wasteful spending on your behalf understandably upsets you. This doesn't seem to be a case of not being able to graciously accept gifts, however, as earlier in the evening things went well when appropriate, thoughtful gifts were given to you in a mindful manner that contrasts greatly with how this was done.

Lyndsay said...

I just nodded my head along with Lisa's comment.

I think the fact that it's the BEDROOM makes a difference too. Maybe replacing the towels in the bathroom wouldn't have felt like as much of a violation as replacing everything in the bedroom.

Snickollet said...

One time, when John was sick, his parents redid our living room. They mostly just rearranged our stuff, but they took down some art and hung other pieces and put new pillows on the couch and totally shifted how the room was set up. They were shocked when I was totally upset about it. I felt violated. My house, my space--it made no sense to me that they had redone that without asking me or John what we wanted. So I can totally relate to your reaction, and you were actually much nicer than I was about the whole thing--I never called and thanked anyone, I just put everything back the way it had been!

I'm glad the rest of Christmas was so nice. I'm on the lookout for a nice black and/or grey skirt--hope you enjoy yours!

Kizz said...

I agree with everyone else but want to add that you probably would have been OK with the giving part. It would have seemed weird and extravagant but understandable. The fact that they DISPOSED OF YOUR OLD BEDDING without asking you? That freaks me out. I have shitty bedding that I don't care about and frankly you can come in off the street and ditch it if it'll make you happy but only because I just said so. To throw away (or give or recycle or whatever) something you chose and paid for and use happily is presumptuous and uncool. For all they know it had sentimental value or you like to change your sheets every other day and need plenty of spares. I can see why they thought it was nice and having the new stuff is probably comfy and nice, but not having your own stuff as well is ignorant and painful.

Nina said...

I don't think you are ungrateful at all. You have such great commenters and I can't really add anything except to say that I think Lisa hit it right on.

Could you call or have Josh call and ask for your old bedding back? I too remember reading about you picking out that bedding and how hard/important it was to you. Because while it's lovely that they bought you new stuff, it's not lovely that they TOOK your old stuff. And I can see how they might have thought it would be a delightful surprise to remake your whole bed for you, I would also feel violated if somebody did that without even asking me. It's MY bed. If they had at least left your old bedding, you could have politely thanked them and then put your old bedding on. You could use the new bedding as an alternate? I don't know.

I'm sorry that happened. It's obvious they're trying really hard, but they're just coming from a different place. I also think that it's okay for you to actually tell them where you are coming from, if you feel like that's possible. They seem like they care about you and would want to know where you are coming from.

bad mummy said...

I think Lisa is bang-on and should give up her armchair to work as an actual psychologist.

I think Josh's parents are trying to parent you in a style to which you may never become accustomed: replacing the perfectly fine with the brand new. I'm willing to bet that they upgrade their cell phones before the contract is up and replace their car every two years too. It's fine for some (as long as they recognize and appreciate their position of power and privilege), but it's not your style. And that's just fine.

A gift card would have been just fine, but - again - it doesn't sound like you needed new sheets. Can you tuck the new things away for when they visit and go back to using your own things?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I get it. Why throw away the old bedding? Does that mean that you have multiple sets of the same sheets so that the bed always looks the same, even when you wash the sheets? Or are you supposed to wash and put the sheets right back on so that you're constantly using the same set all year long? We keep our old sheets even when we buy new ones so that there's always extra on hand. Doesn't always match perfectly, but whatever.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Giving bedding as a gift differs doing what they did. Had they simply given the bedding, as unnecessary as you would have thought it to be, you would have understood this is their way, they think it's nice to have fresh new bedding and want you to experience this too, and that it is for Josh too. But they didn't simply give a gift. It is their action, not the material gift, that prompts the reaction you are understandably having.

Rebecca said...

Lisa is spot on, just spot on. I would have been shocked and very upset if somebody had done that to me. It was clearly done with the best and kindest intentions but next year - lock your door :)

Yankee, Transferred said...

Ick. Just, ick. You are not ungrateful. What you are feeling is bulldozed, and with good reason. Plus I'm someone who doesn't even KNOW you and I know that wasteful spending is the opposite of what you do/like/can imagine.

I know (from what I read, anyway) that they mean well. Still. Ick.

Alisha said...

There's not a lot new I can add to what everyone else said here, because I think everyone is spot-on. I would also be *extremely* upset if anyone went into my room and changed my stuff around, and especially if they got rid of my old stuff! I had a comforter-cover that finally ripped last year after I'd used it for 12 years, and one of the reasons it was so homey for me was that I picked it out when I first moved out of my parents' home into my own space, and I'd had it in every home of my own since then. Someone else might have thought it was fit for the rag bag years ago, but I liked it and it was MINE.

Incidentally, I didn't say anything at the time but this issue was why I was nervous for you when you wrote here that you were planning to make that cashmere sweater into a pillow for Alex. Thankfully it turned out well and she loves it, but it was risky to take something she cared about without asking her and do the kind of cutting and sewing necessary to transform it.

I would encourage you to tell Laurie & Tom how you feel -- and sounds like you need to explain to Josh too -- that you're grateful to them for all the lovely stuff they bought you, including the bedding, but that you feel a bit invaded that the decision to change your whole bed over was made without you, and could you please have the old bedding back because you picked it out and it's special to you. Hopefully they haven't given it away yet!