Unsure of my role in my nieces Christmas

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2013
Unsure of my role in my nieces Christmas
Tue, 12-03-2013 - 11:14am

Any advice/suggestions would be appreciated with this situation.  

My brother is an alcoholic who is currently in rehab. He and my sister-in-law are now divorced, he has lost his home, job, everything. He is literally one step away from being homeless. My sister-in-law (we'll call her Jane) was fortunate enough to have a mother who bought her a small home for she and my neices (ages 7 and 11) to live in. My husband and I have tried to remain very close to our nieces who live several hours away by offering for them to come spend weekends with us and offering to go and visit them. Jane just blows it off saying "the girls don't like to be away from me." Which I can understand because they're Dad is no longer in their lives on a regular basis.  Occasionally, Jane will need help keeping them and will call on us and we gladly help. I love the girls as if they were my own and would love to help them in any way possible. 

Jane is a school teacher and I realize she doesn't make a lot of money. However, she doesn't have a house payment or car payment, and her mother helps her out with the bills and her father does any handywork that needs to be done around the home. We are all thankful for that. 

My problem is last night Jane called me and told me that although she does have money, times are tough and she "doesn't want the girls to go without at Christmas, because the fact that they're Dad is in rehab is not their fault." I completely agree and had planned to spend $100- $150 on each of the girls this year. Jane said to me "that is wonderful, but I'm going to need help with Santa" The 11 year old wants UGG boots and a Northface Fleece FROM SANTA  She said she would email me the list for the 7 year old. Jane told me when the girls get older she'll tell them that I helped out with Santa. I can understand her asking for a little help, but as the Aunt, I don't feel as though it's my responsibilty to play Santa. Am I being selfish? Between, Jane, Jane's mother and father, my mother and my husband and myself, the girls are definitely not going to "go without." Jane says her family has already done so much she hates to ask them for anything. I KNOW they will do a lot for the girls at Christmas. I told her to mail me the list and my husband and I would try and help out with a couple of items. She went on to say that my brother owes her over $5,000 in child support and that she pays for all their groceries and field trip for the girls...ughhh!! My brother is completely broke, and as much as I hate that for everybody, I feel like she's implying that since HE can't help out that I should. I would appreciate ANY advice. Thank you!