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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Gift That Keeps on Being Given

I believe that the Seinfeld show coined the phrase “re-gifting” although they certainly didn’t invent the concept. Re-gifting has probably been around for hundreds, maybe even thousands, of years. Imagine that you are a cavewoman, and that you see a friend of yours loping toward your territory. You remember that she recently gave you a tasty snake, and that you haven’t yet returned the favor. You don’t have time to club anything yourself. What’s a cavewoman to do? Ah-ha! There it is! A rat pelt. Given to you by your crazy Aunt Ugg sixteen moons ago. What are you supposed to with a rat pelt anyway? So, you welcome your friend with a big toothless smile, and present her with your offering.

Flash forward to 2006. It’s the last class before our holiday break, and a little girl comes into the classroom dressed in a beautiful black and red Christmas dress. Her hair is woven into two perfect braids, each of which is tied off with bright red ribbons.

She walks toward me with a huge smile on her face. She holds out a small, perfectly wrapped box, looks up at me, and says proudly,

“Here Miss Angela. My Grandma gave this to my Mommy, and now I’m giving it to you.”

She spoke with no trace of sarcasm, humor, or any hint of awareness of her faux pas. She was a four year-old, simply delighting in the joy of giving. It was a “bite my tongue really hard so that I don’t laugh” moment.

I am not casting any judgment on re-gifters. I have done it myself, although I usually have to tell the recipient so that I don’t feel as if I’m being deceptive. But really, if you receive a perfectly good gift that for one reason or another you will never use, why not pass it along to someone that is a more suitable recipient? For example, I wouldn’t use a sequined coin purse, but my niece would be thrilled to take it off of my hands. As a matter of fact, I did enjoy and use my gift from Grandma/Mom/Daughter. In order to protect the relatively innocent, I will not mention what the item was. This year with so many tightened budgets, I bet a lot of people will be shopping at home, and I don’t mean on the internet or by catalog. I might just be one of them.

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