She ReGifted My Present

By Janey Womeldorf

Someone, (sorry, if you are reading this) gave me a music CD with the plastic wrap missing for Christmas one year. I later learned she had opened it, recorded it, wrapped it and then given it to me. I know this because she told me – not that she had much choice, the missing plastic wrap was a dead giveaway. Maybe I should thank her; I can never get that plastic off anyway.

It is a soothing-sounds CD. Every time I play it, un-soothing thoughts enter my head and remind me that she opened it first. In a way, she wasn’t guilty of regifting because the CD was new. Wait a minute, I assume it was new. Oh no, maybe she just scoured her CD rack for something she hadn’t listened too in ages that she thought might make a suitable gift. In my heart, I believe it was new, but now I feel guilty for even thinking that. I need to go play it; I feel stressed now.

Regifting scares me. I always worry that one day I will regift something to someone that they previously gave me. Of course, I usually give to others gifts that I would use myself, so at least if ever I did get one back, I’d like it. The few times I have regifted, I have always regretted it. My conscience is my punishment though, as years later, I still recall what the items were, what the occasion was, and who the victims were. And let’s just say it’s not pride that oozes from my pores.

Whether or not you regift really boils down to how you answer the following questions: Is it wrong? Is it okay but tacky? Or, is it perfectly acceptable as long as you tell the person?

My CD friend believes in the latter; I, on the other hand, think regifting is tacky, which is a shame because it solves so many “stuff” problems. I mean, what else can you do with all those unwanted desirables that seem inappropriate for Goodwill, too expensive for a garage sale, and too valued not to pass on to someone?

Hopefully there won’t be any more deceptively-wrapped, regifted presents under my tree this year – Christmas is complicated enough as it is. Not only does it expose the etiquette minefield of regifting, but it also confronts us with the equally-explosive issue of handling “the unwanted gift.” Do you keep it, return it, or exchange it? If you do decide to return or exchange, should you ask the person first, or just go ahead and return it, hoping the subject never comes up?

Choosing the ignorance-is-bliss option seems like the perfect solution, until that is, the gift-giver comes to your house. Guilt consumes you, especially if the occasion warrants using the item in question. You sit there, smiling and chatting away, all the while knowing that the gift-giver is secretly strategizing how to bring up the subject of their seemingly-unused gift into the conversation. Thankfully for the friendship, the gorilla in the room never gets mentioned, and you are safe until their next visit.

Whether we like it or not, all gifts elicit emotional reactions – good and bad. I know this because on the flip side, nothing nourishes the heart more than seeing a gift you gave, being used. Conversely, I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge a twinge of sadness, (or ashamed to admit, a prick of annoyance) to learn that my gift had been shoved in the back of a closet somewhere, destined to earn pennies on the dollar at their next garage sale. It makes me want to ask for it back.

Early in our marriage, my husband gave me a vase for Christmas. Hard as I tried to love it, I couldn’t escape one basic truth – I didn’t. I wanted a vase but not that one. Finally, one day, as we stood in line at a food court to buy pizza, I broke the news to him. I chose the food court specifically because if he took it badly, steaming slices of cheesy pepperoni will lift anybody’s spirits; it’s food band aid. To my relief, he didn’t mind and the vase was forgotten before he even got to the crust. Months later, the subject came up. He admitted that although the pizza had helped, he felt gutted I didn’t like his vase. It broke my heart. Consequently, I have adored everything he has bought me ever since – as far as he knows.

Twenty-plus years of marriage later, the only gifts my husband and I now buy for each other are small, (read: cheap) token gifts. Every dollar that comes into our house, regardless of who earns it, goes into the same “pot.” Consequently, I can never quite get my head around the fact that if I buy him something (which he may or may not want), it is our “joint” money paying for it. Also, if he buys me a gift and pays by credit card, I am the one who pays the bills which can be especially brutal when the amount due includes that gift you know you’ll never use.

Talking of which, I am desperate for a gift idea for my husband this year. Maybe I’ll find something during my next cleaning purge that I could wrap up and give to him. Just because I consider it tacky to regift to friends, it doesn’t mean I can’t regift to my husband. Different rules apply between spouses – especially after 20 years. In our house, any time we can put old stuff to new use is cause for celebration.

Wait a minute; his job has been stressful lately. I think he’d love a soothing-sounds music CD, and I know just where I can find one. But what if he gets suspicious about the missing plastic wrap? I know, I’ll have him unwrap it right before dinner which I’ll order out.

“I’d like to order a large cheese pepperoni please.”

About this writer

  • Janey Womeldorf Janey Womeldorf once went to work wearing different shoes. She now freelance writes and scribbles away in Orlando, Florida. It’s probably best.

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2 Responses to “She ReGifted My Present”

  1. You captured the feelings of the giver and the receiver, and your spash of humor made me laugh. Personally, I don’t care where my gifts come from.

  2. Janey Womeldorf says:

    Glad the essay made you laugh. Hope Santa delivers even more smiles to you this Christmas. Thanks for commenting. Janey W.

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