Japan is a country famous for gifts. People give gifts on many occasions, and I’ve received gifts from students so many times I’ve lost count. Usually, it’s food. But with the birth of my daughter, I’ve received baby-themed gifts. I like receiving gifts like this. On the other hand, there’s gift money.
Gift money is given to new parents by family and relatives. This is also done at New Year’s. Family gives gift money to children. However, by my definition, the Japanese gift money tradition is not really a gift. My wife and I have received gift money from her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. It’s been quite helpful for paying for many baby related things, including clothes, supplies, and paying for the birth itself. Now that she’s home and the gift giving has died down, her family is expecting something in return. What they now expect is for us to use half of the gift money to buy them gifts. That’s right, they give us money to buy them gifts after we’ve already used the money during the most financially difficult time we’ve ever had. This is something that both my wife and I really dislike about Japan’s gift tradition. While we appreciate their generosity, as the money did help us a lot, it seems inconceivable from my cultural background that we are now required to buy expensive gifts for everyone that gave us money. Sure, it seems like it’s returning the favour as a thank you. But we’re in the middle of a difficult time financially, and we need to be able to save as much as possible for the coming months. Raising a child is expensive, and the last thing we need is to spend money on gifts for family. Maybe I sound ungrateful to some of my Japanese readers, but you have to understand the situation of new parents.
Here’s the most irritating thing. They want the gifts as soon as possible. They want it immediately. If we don’t give gifts in return, they won’t say anything to us, but they will complain a lot to my wife’s parents. We don’t want her parents to have to deal with angry relatives that want gifts from a couple of new parents who can’t really afford to give them gifts. It seems like it’s more important for my in-laws to get gifts than for us to have financial security.
Thank you very much, Japanese gift money tradition. You sure know how to screw over new parents. End of rant.