The subject of gift giving is on my mind at the moment because this week my family will be celebrating the birthdays of both my husband and mother. Over the years, I have found it increasingly difficult to come up with brilliant gift ideas. (Not that I ever thought of any brilliant ideas, though one has hopes). Luckily, my husband and mother accept presents graciously and never make me feel inadequate in that department.
I remember the first time I bought, unassisted, a birthday present for my mom. I must have been around 9, and overheard her offhandedly mention we needed new salt and pepper shakers. Gathering up my cache of allowance money, I hurried to the nearest mini-mall gift shop. After examining the prices, I purchased a set of salt and pepper shakers made of textured glass, with silver metal tops. Quite proud of myself, I scampered home. I had not thought to buy a gift box, so handed my mother the brown paper bag that contained her present. She opened the bag, and expressed her delight at what I realize now were some pretty ugly S & P shakers. Her considerate response created a gratifying moment I will never forget.
The outcome of gift giving or receiving is not always what one hopes. It is interesting to note the varying responses people have when they receive a present they do not want or cannot use. Generally, individuals fall into one of two categories; those who accept the spirit of the gift and say nothing, or those who are more practical and tell the gift-giver the truth. Except in cases involving children, I believe there are good arguements for both responses, as long as the intention is not mean-spirited.
I recall one Christmas when my late mother-in-law gave my husband and me some sort of bubble generating device one could put in a bathtub, which would supposedly simulate the effects of being in a Jacuzzi. What she failed to consider was that our bathtub measured 23" X 54", less than 2 feet wide and 6 feet long. My husband is over 6' tall and could not fully stretch out in that tub. Plus the device itself was not small. My MIL was very proud at her inventiveness in choosing a present that would truly be a surprise, so we accepted the gift with enthusiasm. The bubble device sat in our garage for several years before we admitted to ourselves we would never use it, and donated it to a charity organization. My late MIL did not have a lot of money, and we still feel bad that some was wasted. Would it have been better to tell her the truth, return the item, and get something we actually would have used?
One could be safe and only purchase gift cards as presents. I have a couple of those, which were given to me a few years ago. Now where did I put them?