You go to a work function and the boss passes raffle tickets around. You end up winning the vanilla-scented candle, but you are not the candle type. You keep it safe in the gift bag until the perfect opportunity comes to get rid of it. Christmas time, maybe?
I’m not going to lie. I’m not a stranger to regifting. However, I’ve always felt tacky and somewhat ashamed when giving someone a present that was initially meant for me, even when I know the receiver will love it. (Please remember this when you open the bag and a whiff of vanilla caresses your nostrils.)
It is one thing to part with something you got from your company. After all, your boss didn’t spend the whole evening shopping around especially for you (at least you’d hope so, otherwise it’d be weird). However, there is something inherently wrong about giving away a present that somebody bought with you in mind. Like when, for my birthday, my kids decided to buy me this dress which I wouldn’t have chosen if given the option. Giving it away never crossed my mind. On the contrary, I made a point to wear it often because I knew they put a lot of thought into buying it. Besides, I love seeing their faces brighten up when I have it on. That’s my favorite part.
A present is as much about the recipient as it is about the giver. When you give someone a gift, you’re making a statement about that person. You’re telling them how important they are, that you love them, that you were thinking about them. You take pleasure in the selection process and get excited just imagining their reaction. Unfortunately, I’m particularly bad at presents. I have a hard time deciding on the perfect item for anybody, unlike other people, who are naturals. I remember this one time when my ex husband carried a 16 oz mocha from the Moxie Java on Vista all the way back to Chicago because he knew it was my favorite coffee place. To this day, one of my favorite presents.
So, wouldn’t you feel horrible if you found out someone you love decided to do away with your present, after you spent so much time making it special? Wouldn’t it feel like it is you they are kicking to the curb? After all, there is always a bit of us in the presents we give to other people.
Or maybe I’m just too fucking sensitive.
- Etxepare-Laboral Kutxa Translation Prize 2017 for publishers/translators
- “Basque code talkers” in World War II monograph (in Spanish) available on June 15