Sunday morning and the phone rings rather early. My best friend has an odd question about re-gifting as if I were Emily Post with all the etiquette answers at the ready. The present in question was of an edible kind which my friend doesn’t enjoy but somebody else could. And given the shortage of funds these days, I encouraged her to re-gift with no guilt.
I am certainly be accused of passing things along that I know I wouldn’t use or are just not to my taste. Why let them rot when they could make another person happy? Should I even admit to it? I decided to poke around etiquette rules and, according to Ms Post, re-gifting is appropriate in very few instances: only if what we have been given is of no use to us, if it is in perfect condition and we are sure another person will appreciate it. It makes sense. Would I want to inflict something hideous on somebody else? In that case, a charity box might be kinder.
At a time when many are struggling and owning more and more junk is going out of favour, I think of re-gifting as re-purposing. Not a Martha Stewart by nature, I do prefer personal, handmade gifts such as something I cooked or services I can render – a cooking class, a meal delivered, a personal yoga class. We all have some talent we could put to good use. But, should an unused item come my way for which I have no purpose but somebody else might, I have no problem re-wrapping it and passing it along. One of Ms. Post’s most salient points was that it was important not too hurt anyone’s feelings. So the cookie box in the shape of a fat lady I just couldn’t live with (and certainly couldn’t inflict on somebody else), I merrily pretended it broke and gave it to charity.
It’s the act of giving that counts, right? Well, yes and no. To me it’s knowing that somebody thought of me on a certain occasion and spent a little time choosing something personal, just for me.
At the end of the day, I don’t really need anything and that disposable income might be better used to feed a family in Africa, help a woman in Madagascar open her business, or an Aids association or whatever charity hits one’s heart. Love can come in many forms and it doesn’t necessary have to be in the shape of an espresso machine.
An i-Pad, well, that’s a thought.