Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Maybe We Should Run an Advice Column

Yesterday’s Dear Amy column with the quilting grandma’s letter about her ungrateful son and DIL struck a nerve in so many readers. My post received an increase of 444% hits, and the comments section in the Washington Post’s Lifestyle section received 240 comments. Funny, the comments about the advice given to the quilting grandmother with the ungrateful son trumped the alcoholic boyfriend advice by 240 to 5.  I can’t report on the Chicago Tribune’s comment section because they require me to pay to read their paper and I am a bargain hunting news junkie.
I tallied the comments and wasn’t surprised that most of the readers were in favor of chewing out the son in providing what Zurn coined a teaching moment. That is the mom thing to do. 

What came close behind as advice to the quilting grandma was to let go of any expectations of what they will do with the gift, and don’t give anymore.  A lot of comments recommended she take the quilt back and bring it out when the grandchild came to visit to create a special memory. 

And the most popular lament from gift receivers of handmade goods is actually very good advice to those of us who love giving handmade gifts. Just because we love what we do and what we make doesn’t mean others will. We need to check our egos at the door when selecting a gift and give some thought to whether the recipient would need or want it.   
And my favorite comment of all?
Ye Gods, what was so hideous about that "meaningful" quilt that mom's own son told her to stop - just stop - giving them any gifts whatsoever?

It boggles the imagination. Was it full of sinister clowns? Ducks and guns? Psychotic color schemes. Made of old women's underpants?

Ah yes, sinister clowns and psychotic color schemes. I love the word picture of that one. Stay tuned for news on this blog about an upcoming challenge to design the worst quilt ever. Meanwhile I’ll get the address for this ungrateful son and his wife and we can all send them our meaningful work.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What Do You Mean You Don't Want It?!!?

So this morning, I'm sipping my coffee and indulging in my guilty pleasure - advice columns. I come across Ask Amy, a syndicated advice giver, I think out of Chicago, who answered a letter from a quilter.  I'll let you read it here , but I'll post it below as well.

"DEAR AMY: My 27-year-old son and his wife are expecting our first grandchild this summer. I am over the moon. As a gift for the baby, I made a beautiful, meaningful patchwork quilt.
Not only did I not receive a “thanks” or “I like it,” but I was told that I would need to run any further gifts past them to make sure they would need it. My son went on to say that they do not have a lot of extra space to store blankets.
"This quilt was made with only one thing in mind — showing my grandchild how much I care. How should I handle my feelings of rejection and disappointment? Do I continue to send gifts with the hope that they meet parental approval?
"Or should I send gifts of cash, which I am loath to do? -- Quilter in a Quagmire

"DEAR QUILTER: I can understand how disappointed you must feel, but you have spun this disappointment into a massive dilemma about gift-giving. You might be someone who wraps your considerable positive and powerful feelings into quilts, gifts and other material things. This abundance of kindness can create unintended pressure for a couple who haven’t even become parents yet.

"You should determine to give this new baby the most important thing of all — an easy and loving relationship with you. Nothing further is required."

 Wow. Just wow. I mean, when does abundance of kindness expressed through a quilt equal pressure? In short, Amy's suggestion in handling feelings of rejection and disappointment was to blame the quilter for wanting to show kindness in a way that makes sense to her.  I'm trying to think as I type here, but here's the thing. This guy is her son, who is my own son's age. If his mom is like any of us, then he has to know his mom is an enthusiastic quilter. He should be anticipating that she is going to want to make a quilt for any baby he brings into this world. But to order his mother to run gift ideas past them first? 

Help me, dear readers, She sent a quilt, probably a 36" x 54" baby quilt. She didn't send a treadmill, or a Magic Bullet drink mixer that takes up an entire kitchen cabinet with all of its connectable parts. While I sympathize with the space dilemma a young couple starting a family might face as this is a common scenario that so many of us go through, his answer made no logical sense. He and his wife will find out soon enough that babies  will take up more space than they will ever have, even if they live in a mansion. I think his answer reflects a painful underlying dynamic here, and that is why this good quilter feels so rejected.

So I ask you - have you ever given a gift where you spent considerable amount of time and  maybe money only to have it so summarily rejected the way this son rejected his mother's gift? If you were to give this good woman advice, what would you suggest she do to overcome her feelings of rejection? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.