Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 126 - Regifting

Seinfeld made the term "regifting" a new word in the lexicon of American's use of the English language.  When we get a gift from someone that we may not necessarily want or need, the question that is often asked is "Is it OK to give to another person that may want or need it more?"  I not only think this is the right thing to do, I think it is on occasions the smart thing to do.  I keep the gift bags and tissue paper and reuse these too.  I don't think there's anything "wrong" with this behavior.

One Christmas at work, we had a "Secret Santa" exchange.  For some reason I was given body soap and bubble bath.  I had been given this same gift with different scents the last three years in a row.  Maybe they are all trying to tell me that I stink! Now I know I don't stink but I do think it's a "no thought" just grab-and-go gift that people often get for others who they don't know well or don't make the time to search for a more appropriate gift. So I often regift these items.  [So for those of you thinking of getting me body soap or body wash for Christmas, please don't.]

I always wonder if people are subconsciously trying to tell me something.  For my nineteenth birthday I had my first Ronald McDonald Birthday Party.  I had never had a birthday party and had been working there for three years while I put myself through college. I didn't have many friends as I worked all the time.  So the people I knew were also McDonald employees.  I was given three gifts.  All of the gifts were inside a brown paper bag.  They were cacti so when I reached inside to grab the first gift, it pricked me.  I guess people thought this was funny but I just didn't.  The cake had a picture of Grimace on it and that is what I did, grimace when I reached into the second and third brown bags and left the damn cacti in there.  [You can click here to find out about having your own McDonald Birthday Party. They are fun at any age!]

Buying gifts for others is supposed to be a thoughtful process.  To give a gift simply to "give a gift" is less than honorable thing to do.  Sometimes making a thoughtful gift is more likely to be pleasantly received.  Jula's mother hand embroidered a picture of grapes for Christmas for me one year.  The time it took to hand stitch each stitch to make the grapes meant the world to me.  I love handmade cards and crafts. They are better than cactus and body wash, more importantly I would never think to regift them!

Up until the Industrial Revolution, all gifts were handmade. However, mass-produced items soon replaced handmade gifts, leading to a small cultural backlash against mass-produced gifts. In the early 1930’s a group of advertisement writers devised a manifesto to explain the superiority of handmade to mass-produced gifts. Their reasons are:
  1. Handmade items are able to distinguish themselves from the uniformity of mass production and are one-of-a-kind.
  2. The gift giver makes the item with the recipient’s tastes in mind, making the gift more personal.
  3. It took more time to produce handmade items than to go out and pick out a gift for a friend, symbolizing the giver’s commitment and willingness to give their own time to please the recipient.
  4. Handmade items were not contaminated by profit-seeking companies.
Today, there is not the same backlash against mass-produced gifts, but the reasoning behind the manifesto is still very true. Especially in our fast-paced, over-programmed culture, handmade gifts show a deep personal and emotional commitment to a relationship.


Adapted from: The Modern Christmas in America: A Cultural History of Gift Giving by William B. Waits.

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