The niece's baptism post got me on this . . . why are people so obsessed with their nieces and nephews?
I see this fairly often IRL. I know people who are saving money for their nieces and nephews to go to college when they don't have two pennies to rub together for themselves AND the mother and father of the child in question don't have college as a priority (they're more blue collar, "it'll be more beneficial for them to learn a trade" kind of people). I know people who don't get along with (to the point of NOT SPEAKING) their siblings, yet INSIST they be invited to their niece or nephew's first birthday party/baptism/dance recital to be there for the child. And there are other people who don't have money to put food on the table that go out and spend hundreds of dollars on holiday presents for the niece/nephew. What gets me the most, is the aunts and uncles who pretty much act like they're the kid's parents, when both of the child's own parents are active in his/her life and try to usurp parenting duties like potty training, etc.
I have a niece. She's a cute kid, very smart and well behaved (go BIL!). I love it when she visits and when go visit my BIL. But if H and I weren't getting by financially, she's not getting anything more than a token xmas present. I'm sorry, but we're not starting a 529 plan for her. We'll do that for our own kids.
Maybe I'm missing something, like some family oriented, pack-type gene that makes you want to take care of other people's offspring.