What Defines a “Gift”?

Have you ever been given a gift that the “giver” later asks you about it? Questions like, “do you use it?” or “did you like it?” What if my answers are “no and no”?

A gift is defined as “a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.”

I am of the opinion that if you give someone a gift and ask about it later, it is no longer a gift! It becomes a responsibility. That is not a gift! What compels people to ask you about a gift they gave you?

Face it, some gifts really suck! I know this because I have given people really sucky gifts. It was not on purpose, but some people are impossible to buy for, as they do not like anything. So, I end up buying some goofy trinket or some dorky stationery set. I cannot even guess at the number of my gifts that I have given to other people that were probably donated to Goodwill or re-gifted.

I clearly remember getting a grotesque, air brushed, white sweatshirt with a big wolf face on it as a gift. Oh, it also had glitter. I abhor glitter.

Now, wolves are my favorite animal! However, you must know this:

  1. I NEVER wear white. It makes me look fat.
  2. Sweatshirts make me look “dumpy”, according to my mother.
  3. Air brushed anything says, “I am a nerd stuck in 1982” and I still live in my parent’s basement. And, if you are a guy, it says, “my mom still does my laundry.”
  4. Glitter falls off all over the house and never goes away. You can give away the item, but rest assured, the glitter will remain until you move out.
  5. Who needs a shirt with a big, ole’ scary wolf face on it?

The only shirts worse are the ones you see old woman wearing with kittens or cats on it! They usually are airbrushed and have glitter, too.

So, I get this hideous sweatshirt from someone that I deeply care about. I was also positive this person would ask me about the sweatshirt at later time! I did not want to hurt their feelings, so I hid it in my closet drawer. I also made sure that I folded it with the freakin’ glitter side covered.

Sure as the day is long, I get asked if I liked the sweatshirt by the “giver”. I knew I would be seeing this person, so I made a concerted effort to wear this insane sweatshirt. However, I did keep it concealed under my jacket for the duration of my visit. I showed the “giver” that I had it on and promptly zipped up my jacket. I was hoping no one else would see me with this “nut job” of a sweatshirt on me!

Have you ever been given a gift that was so lousy that you are unable to hide your disappointment? You know, you open up the present and before you can stop yourself, your expression changes and the smile has run away from your face. Then, you try to recover yourself, but the damage was done. I have.

I dislike it when someone asks me if I liked their gift. I try not to lie, so I end up saying that it was a thoughtful gift. In my mind, I immediately start thinking who I can “re-gift” it to! I know, I am a schmuck.

One time I got a birthday party invitation for a friend’s kid. I opened the invitation while standing in my kitchen. When I opened the card, a freakin’ fist full of glitter confetti flew out of the card! Are you kidding me? Who does that? It went everywhere! It took me a half an hour to clean that mess up! We have established that I equate glitter to the devil.

As I tried to cool my anger about the unnecessary use of glitter, I decided to channel this energy to think of the perfect gift for this little brat. After a time, a “Grinch like” smile creeped across my face. I had thought of the perfect gift! I got the little turd a full-sized sand art color creation kit with real dye colors and 2 bags of extra sand! I also told the kid to make sure he played with it in the house on the carpet! (You would not want your sand art to get dirty by playing with it outside.) Sometimes I amaze myself and marvel at my genius tendencies. I would have given a fist full of cash to see how this kid played with his sand art in the house.

When I was growing up, my grandparents would visit at Christmas time. After the first year of their gifts, I kinda lost interest in their gifts. I am not trying to be rude or ungrateful but read on.

My grandparents were not the greatest gift givers. They also gave the same gifts every year! I am not kidding. Every single Christmas, I got a nail kit. What five-year-old needs a nail kit? Is this a gift that says that I am not clean? I would have probably injured my self with the nail kit if my mother had not taken it away from me. Did my grandparents not understand that kids want toys for Christmas? I continued to get nails kits every year.

Every year my grandparents also bought my dad white undershirts, socks and underwear! It became a running joke at my house. They even wrapped them. My grandparents were also “allergic” to taking the price tags off the items they bought for us. My dad said they wanted to make sure we knew how much they spent on us at Christmas. Um, socks do not cost much.

How are these gifts a present? Who buys underwear for another person? That just seems wrong on some level. Even a gift card trumps a nail kit and underwear!

A little note about re-gifting. You must be careful when doing this. My mom got a birthday gift from one of her close friends on her birthday. It was an angel figurine. After opening the gift, my mother stated it looked familiar. After a few minutes, my mom realized that she had given this angel to her friend as a Christmas gift. Her friend was so busted!

May I recommend that if you plan to re-gift something, put a note on the gift that tells you who gave it to you, so you do not forget. Do it right away. If you don’t, you will forget who gave it to you and run this risk of giving the gift back to the person who gave it to you. Another hint, if you cannot remember who gave you your “re-gift”, do not give it to anyone.

Some people think that re-gifting is rude. I think it makes a lot of sense. It saves time and money.

I have also received some fabulously thoughtful gifts, as well. However, we are not talking about those. I am sticking with the gifts that make you want to ask the “giver” what they were thinking when they gave you a gift.

Nowadays, if I know I am getting a gift for someone, I simply ask them what they would like to receive. What a concept? Find out what the person wants and buy it. It is not quantum physics!

Some people feel that gift cards are not a present. I beg to differ. It seems to me to be a real time saver. Scenario: Giver does not waste time shopping for a dumb gift and does not have to agonize over what to buy for you. Receiver does not have to return, donate or re-gift dumb present. Receiver gets to pick out what appeals to them. I see this as a win/win situation!

Next time you need to get a gift for someone, try asking them! If that does not work for you, then a gift card might. If all else fails, try something unconventional. Take the person out for lunch, dinner, a movie, a concert on your dime. Take the time to be creative. You might actually enjoy yourself.

Whatever you do though, do not buy them a nail kit! You can have all of mine.

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