Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I am the youngest of four sisters, one of whom (the eldest) lives near
me and the other two across the country. Michelle has always been
bossy, controlling, opinionated, and generally the self-designated
queen of whatever mini-universe she’s in. She has twins, Sarah and
David, who at age 23 are far less self-confident and self-sufficient than
my children, and than I think adult children should be. This is in part
because Michelle has managed so many aspects of their lives. Sarah
got married last year and we gave her a very large gift of cash. We did
so to help her relocate to a new town, so that she could get out from
under working for her mother. Now David and his long-term honey
(whom Michelle dislikes) have eloped. My guess is that they wanted to
avoid the “let me help” which equaled “let me take over” wedding circus
that Sarah barely survived. I think it’s only right to give the newlyweds
the same gift that I gave his sister and husband. Michelle says they
should be punished for depriving the family of a spectacle. We’ve
agreed to go with whatever you say. What say you?
For the average gift, I’m not a fan of cash or gift cards. But whatever
the choice of form, gifts should come from the heart, not from any
sense of obligation. They should certainly not be used as a weapon for
punishment. Though circumstances may vary, the primary gifting
reason is the same. These are young kids starting lives of their own,
and any donation that helps them become independent and well set up
will be appreciated and is a great choice, especially if you’re talking in
hundreds or thousands.
My simplest answer is one of equity: They’re twins. What you do for
one generally sets a precedent for what you should do for the other.
Your sister may have an axe to grind but you clearly don’t. Tell her
that your gift is between them and you, and that she’d do better to
work on having a good relationship with her kids and kids-in- law than
worrying about what you do with your money. Have the young couples
over for a party you host, and toast the beginnings of their new lives.
I’m betting Michelle will come, sour face and all.