General Question

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Did my gift offend my aunt?

Asked by LeavesNoTrace (5677points) July 10th, 2013

I just returned from South America and my first stop was to visit my family in PA. I’m staying with an aunt for a few days while we celebrate my grandma’s 95th birthday.

One of the gifts I brought my aunt was a gorgeous handcrafted cross painted in bright colors from Ecuador. She and her husband are ministers at a rural Assemblies of God mega church and I’m an atheist. Regardless I thought she would like it so I gave it to her.

She didn’t seem to excited to receive it and then I noticed that there aren’t any crosses displayed in the house. Did I make a mistake? Can anyone familiar with AoG practices or Pentecostalism in general fill me in? Like I said I’m an atheist and the only Christianity I’ve been exposed to is Catholicism.

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32 Answers

flip86's avatar

Don’t even worry about it. Religious folks get offended too easily. It’s her problem, not yours.

Katniss's avatar

I think it was a lovely thought.
You thought about her and brought her back a gift. She could have at least acted like she loved it, even if she didn’t.

gambitking's avatar

AoG folks have no problem with crosses to my knowledge. And whether she felt offended by it or not, it’s a gift and she should appreciate it regardless.

@flip86 , everyone gets offended at something, religious or not. Terrible answer and a false generalization.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

For the record I abhor AoG and most of what they stand for but I’m a guest and am trying not to offend anyone…

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
flip86's avatar

@gambitking It isn’t a false generalization. Deeply religious people find offense in much more than the average person.

marinelife's avatar

Your gift was given and chosen with your aunt in mind. It was very thoughtful. I would leave it at that.

Judi's avatar

Was it a crucifix? Some Christians don’t like to see Jesus in the cross because they celebrate the risen Christ, the empty tomb and don’t want to focus on the death as much as the resurrection. I’m not sure about AOG though.

keobooks's avatar

It could be a simpler thing. Many people find the South American color schemes to be garish and tacky. She could have simply thought, “Oh man. What on EARTH am I going to do with this hideous thing?” She still should have pretended to love it. But some people aren’t very good at that.

I’m not saying your gift was inappropriate. I’m just saying some people have a strong bad reaction to things like that.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@Judi it’s just a cross. No dead Jesus.

@keobooks it’s on the bright side but not hideous. I tried to err on the side of good taste and select a prettier one.

tedibear's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace – Does your aunt know that you are an atheist? If so, maybe she thought you were making fun of her in some twisted kind of way. I don’t know what your relationship is with her, so it’s hard to know what she’s thinking. Also, if their home has a very subdued color scheme, it may be that she found the colors to be too bright.

JLeslie's avatar

I would be as baffled as you if she seemed not very happy to receive it. I think it was a very nice gift. Even if she doesn’t hang crosses in her house, she should still understand you put thought into it. Most Christians I know have a cross or two or 20 up in their house. I’m an atheist and I gave a family bible to a Catholic friend of mine when she had her second baby. They are very religious. She seemed very happy with the gift.

You just never know. If I were you I wouldn’t second guess. Don’t worry about it. I had a friend give me a little display thing you can put on a wall or a desk that says “Bless This Home.” I’ll never put it up, I guess she doesn’t know I am an atheist, but I am very touched that she wanted to buy me something. She gave it to me when I was moving away to another city. Your aunt can keep it in a box if she doesn’t feel comfortable hanging it up.

I do have several items in a closet or cabinet because they don’t go with my decor at all that people have gifted me. I still appreciate the thought.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace I looked into the Pentecostal angle a little because I wasn’t familiar with it. One of the crosses had the red circle and slash over it as in no crosses and a bunch of other crosses were adorned or non standard. Maybe she’s of a branch that doesn’t care for traditional crosses?

JLeslie's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Interesting. When I bought my girlfriend a family bible I was sure to go to the Catholic church near my home to buy it to make sure it was “her” bible. She actually pointed it out when she received it. She thanked me for giving her the right version. Still, her aunt should not be offended. The OP’s intention were all good. She is an atheist and tried to buy something she thought would be very meaningful to her aunt, if her aunt doesn’t see the attempt she has something to learn. But, as someone said above, some religious people are esaily offended and hard to please, they can be extremely defensive and nontrusting. I don’t think that about most Christians, but the Pentacostals tend to be a little extreme.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

For Pete’s sake it was a cross not Satan’s symbol!

Pachy's avatar

I’ll avoid the religious aspect of this conversation and simply comment on your act of gift-giving. You saw the cross as beautiful piece art, not a religious artifact, and meant it to be something to give your aunt pleasure. As several people have commented, if she tppk offense for whatever reason, that’s unfotunate but it’s her issue, not your fault. It was a lovely gesture on your part.

bookish1's avatar

I agree with above posts. You put thought into selecting a nice gift for her that you thought she would appreciate. It is incumbent on her to accept the gift in the spirit with which it was given. You have not done anything wrong.

I am not a monotheist but I would be delighted if someone brought me back a piece of religious art from their travels.

I don’t know much about Pentecostalism, but I was raised Protestant and I don’t know why Pentecostals would object to a cross… Evangelical Christianity has really been taking off in South America for the past few decades. Maybe you could point this out to her. Did she assume the decorated cross is some Catholic “popery” or something?

JLeslie's avatar

Maybe you can ask a relative who is in the same faith?

Pandora's avatar

What did you buy other members? Did you buy other members really cool gift and then handed her the lame cross? Maybe she has about 12 crosses already because it seems it is all anyone ever gives her and so she found it difficult to be exited. I know my dad had gotten really tired about getting a shirt and tie for christmas, fathers day and his birthday every year. He would laugh though. He would lift the gift and guess the contents right every time.

Aster's avatar

I think it was a lovely gesture. But if an Atheist bought me a cross I’d feel strange for some reason I can’t put my finger on right now. . I would try very hard to hide this weird feeling, though. It’s just manners.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aster Why would you feel strange? The gift is for you.

Aster's avatar

I wish I could find the words. An admitted Atheist, who obviously thinks I’m believing in and basing my life on nonsense, gives me a cross. That’s as well as I can do right now to explain it. I’m certain there are analogies I could dream up. It would be like saying, to put it crudely, “here ; I bought you a gift representing your falacious thinking. Add it to the rest of your worthless collection of stuff like your Easter bunnies and Santa dolls.
That’s the best I can do right now. lol

JLeslie's avatar

@Aster I think that makes a lot of assumptions about the particular atheist. My MIL is Catholic, and her beliefs don’t bother me in any way. I completely respect her belief in God, that she enjoys watching her TV show where they recite the rosary, that she goes to church. She still sometimes crosses my husband, even though he converted to Judaism, because that is a ritual she has with him to show her love and wanting him to have safe travels when we leave. I don’t think in my mind she is believing in a bunch of fantasy, I think she is very loving, and her religion is for her.

I’m not telling you how you should feel receiving the gift, you feel how you feel, I just wanted you to understand how I see it from my personal atheist perspective.

Aster's avatar

That’s fine.

Unbroken's avatar

I was raised by Pentecostal rural ministers. Not AoG and every one is different. But here is what I can tell you.

Thou shall not practice idolatry. They don’t pray to Mary or crosses or have rosaries. They may have nativity scene and their church may display a cross but they don’t put a lot of emphasis on it.

Also crosses reek of Cathocism as a sect they have particular dislike for as they were persecuted by them. As their religion became a tool to achieve power and to swindle money.

Also if you were giving a cross which is obviously a Catholic trinket regardless of whether it has Jesus on it or not. Painting it in a pretty color scheme to lessen the impact of Jesus’ sacrifice. Turning it into a mockery and art rather then the ultimate act of love which cost Jesus incredible amount of pain. Makes it more platable, another Catholic marketing ploy.

So she didn’t hide her displeasure, she had her reasons just like you thought your gift was thoughtful. Ya’ll obviously have a lot to learn about each other. Cut her a break quit overthinking, and hopefully you can see past your spiritual pov and get to know each other as people.

JLeslie's avatar

@Unbroken The OP should get over her spiritual POV? WTH? Her spirtual POV had nothing to do with it. If it did she never would have given a cross. She was trying to be understanding of her aunt’s POV, and obviously was ignorant to how the pentacostals view these things.

AshLeigh's avatar

I was raised Pentecostal, and I never noticed anyone having any kind of problem with crosses. Maybe she just doesn’t know how to react to gifts? A lot of people are like that.

Unbroken's avatar

@JLeslie That was poorly written wasn’t it. I meant she should perhaps look past their biggest differences and stop highlighting them to focus on things they have in common.

Get to know each other. Her aunt is family and I know the OP has had it rough family wise. So it was a nice gesture a nice thought. Ok it wasn’t appreciated but maybe it was because she was focusing on something she knows nothing about.

This isn’t an ouright failure as it clearly points out the grounds that they are not going to bond on. That is ok there are other ways to bond.

But yes I was telling her not to be indignant that her first olive branch was not well recieved. Instead of focusing on why because even if she does find out its not an avenue to gaurantee successful bonding.

Refocus on the idea behind the the gift. Which seems to be thoughtfulness and sweetness.

If she really wants to know why from the horses mouth so to speak maybe when she feels more comfortable she can ask. And later in the future maybe they will laugh about it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Unbroken I have a feeling she wasn’t indignant, but rather she was worried she had done something that upset her aunt. In many countries in Latin America crosses are sold everywhere, Catholicism being a major religion, I dated a guy whose family was from Ecuador and they had, Mary, Jesus, beads, or crosses in almost every room of the house. My husband’s Mexican family is similar, not quite as extreme. Also, tourists love to buy the local crosses as pieces of artwork. It probably was as simple as she saw a cross in a store or market and though her aunt might like it.

I think it would be great if she asked, and hopefully the aunt would explain why maybe she was surprised or put off by the gift, or maybe she wasn’t and the OP misread the reaction, and learn about each other.

bkcunningham's avatar

Maybe she just thought it was ugly and/or perhaps she doesn’t like displaying crosses. Maybe she’s the kind of person who is uncomfortable receiving a nice gift. Who knows? Maybe you were expecting too much in the way of a her reaction.

Unbroken's avatar

@JLeslie of course you are accurate. I just open my mouth and words come out on occasion. I meant no offense and if you take out the word indignent I still stand by what I say.

kimchi's avatar

It doesn’t always have to relate with religion. She might’ve not liked it or thought it was just…ugly. Don’t worry, it’s not your fault.

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