Gifting East: Part II…Because Part I Was, in Fact, a Fail (#87)


After much prodding, Andy finally read my post on the difficulty of getting his mother a present. He snickered, told me it was funny, and asked when I was going to write Part II.

I said, “What? There’s no Part II. I win. End of story.”

Andy said, “Not exactly.”

“But, but…you always send her flowers!”

Andy said, “Not exactly.”


The first time Andy sent flowers, his mother seemed pleased. So the next time a gift-giving occasion occurred, he sent another bouquet.

Sunny said, “Thank you for the flowers.”

Andy said, “You’re welcome. Are they pretty?”

Sunny said, “Yes, but too expensive.”

Andy said, “They aren’t. And I used a coupon.”

“Still too expensive. Don’t send them again.”

“Ma, I make good money. I wanted to get you something nice.”

Sunny sniffed and said, “Flowers die.”


I said, “Shit.”

Andy said, “Yeah.”

I asked, “But I thought– haven’t you been sending flowers?”

Andy gave me smug grin. “Not exactly.”


The next gift Andy tried was still a flower — sort of. He sent a potted orchid. Andy then called his mom, wished her a happy birthday, and asked if she got his present.

Sunny: “Yes. Thank you. It’s pretty. But too expensive.”

Andy said, “No, it’s not that expensive.”

Sunny: “Really?”

Andy: “Really. And it doesn’t die.”

There was a moment of silence.

Sunny changed the subject.

She never again told Andy his gifts were too expensive, nor did she imply that the orchids he sent were in any way defective.

I guess that means Andy, for the win.

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Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

41 thoughts on “Gifting East: Part II…Because Part I Was, in Fact, a Fail (#87)”

  1. Hehehehhehe

    My MIL loves gifts. In fact my hubby actually buys the same stuff for both of us for e.g. purse of different colors. So that she doesn’t feel left out.

    I also shower a lot of gifts on her though she sometimes says not to , i know she actually likes the gifting culture a lot

    1. Aw! That’s very sweet of your hubby and also, if I may say, very efficient of him!

      Yeah, you can usually kind of tell when someone likes a gift and yet feels compelled to say, “Oh, no! You shouldn’t have!” That sort of response lacks the, um, tinge of perhaps contempt I sometimes felt with my MIL. She just doesn’t seem to get joy out of gifts. Or if she does, she doesn’t let on. Or maybe her gift to Andy is letting him think she likes the gift. I could go in circles for hours trying to figure that woman out.

      1. Ya My hubby is really smart in this gifting business 🙂
        It will take time to understand a person especially MILs.
        Maybe she likes to do something else like going to restaurants or some other thing.
        I stay with my MIL and for some months after marriage , i was not working. So I could figure her out well.
        And I absolutely love your blog <3

          1. Lol 🙂 Managed to live without bloodshed for 1.9 years. In India, we have to live with our In Laws. This has lot of advantages and disadvantages.
            I am happy though 🙂

  2. He won unless Sunny is as bad at keeping orchids alive as I am. Maybe she’ll have to run out and buy a new orchid before you come and visit. On the other hand, maybe she has a green thumb, and as a result of Andy’s gift, she’s developed a new hobby.

    1. I know what you mean. I killed numerous orchids. But there’s one I’ve managed to keep alive for over two years now, after putting it outside and rigging shade. Inside orchids? Dead. Dead. More dead. All dead.

      Sunny is aided by Hawaii’s hot and humid climate. The orchids appear to be thriving!

  3. Would Sunny and husband object to an holiday/ spa treatment all paid for?

    I am looking forward to a guest post from Andy.

    1. I’ve tried. “No, too busy.” “No, too expensive.” “Why you pay money for that? You can lie on tennis ball for massage!”

      Yes. I am also looking forward to second guest post. It’s like pulling teeth. Last night I made him come in like three times while I was trying to get his conversations with his mom right for this post:

      “Well, what did she say after that? Did she even thank you for the flowers?”

      “Wait, did you tell her they would stay alive, or did you say they wouldn’t die?”

      Andy: “Just write whichever one is funnier!”

  4. I sometime bring Chinese mom a few pieces of cake when I make one. But it has to be almost without suger, because if it is a little bit sweet she complains that it is too sweet every bite. And cakes here are already less sweet then elsewhere. And I still have to put in much less sugar. And I make good cakes. This is also frustrating.

    1. That would make me nuts, to have someone complain that my Devil’s Food Cake with ganache frosting (that takes six hours to make from scratch) was too sweet — especially if they did it with every bite!

      But it is a compliment that she keeps eating. 🙂 Andy’s cousins could barely manage one bite of my chocolate raspberry brownie with cheesecake topping. But their white husbands totally ate it up. 🙂

      1. You know what? She sometimes gives me oranges. But we don’t eat it. So after some time I give them back and she is sooo happy. Of course I won’t say that they are the same lol 😀

        Chinese dad loves them though. Unfortunately he has diabetes and can’t dig in as much as he’d love to.

  5. Very, very clever of Andy. I wonder did the orchid is still alive. Not everyone has green fingers, and Sunny doesn’t strike me as someone who does. When it comes to giving others gifts, it is always a challenge and you always wonder if the other person likes the gift. I wonder if Sunny really likes plants and flowers.

    1. Yeah, sometimes I wonder, too. But for all that she makes me crazy, now that the kids are all thousands of miles away, I don’t think it’s right that she’s not remembered on her birthday and holidays. I suppose a card would do, but I like to think a delivery makes her feel special. If only for a minute.

        1. Wow, I am so impressed that you are paying attention! I never did cover the empty nest in my blog.

          Yep. Denny finished up at UH and left home before we got married. He’s in Silicon valley with a different woman now. I think the porn was retired.

      1. Reminds me of a Chinese friend I had (she moved away). I may have commented about her on your blog before. She made me nuts when we would go shopping together as she always wanted to bargain. She even asked how much the cheese was on a Burger King cheese whopper. She had asked to see a ring at a jewelry store for the 15th time (different visits). The clerk told her no as she wasn’t buying it anyhow. She was upset but didn’t understand how annoying she was as a shopper. The last time she visited me she brought a half loaf of stale bread and half a block of an ordinary cheese (both of which she had in her fridge) as hostess gifts. She stayed a week. The last day she “treated” me to a rotisserie chicken and took home whatever we didn’t eat. Still, I liked her. It was her culture and I wasn’t going to change that.

  6. You’re making me more grateful my mom loves flowers. She’s so easy! 🙂 When I was married I didn’t change my name. But every letter, card and check from my mother in law arrived addressed to Mrs (my ex’s first name) (My ex’s last name), Sr. I tried telling her that wasn’t my name but after the 20th time I just endorsed the checks to myself and deposited them. MIL!

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