If it were up to me, the whole gift giving thing at Christmas would be banned from the four corners of the earth.
But it isn’t up to me, and every year, starting around Thanksgiving, but sometimes beginning as soon as Halloween, gift boxes begin arriving at our house. It’s mostly cases of citrus (“Fresh from Florida!”) and I’m certain the mail carrier must think we’re provisioning ourselves for a long sea voyage.
As you might imagine, figuring out what to do with all this fruit has been a challenge.
My Husband: What’s for dinner?
Me: Grapefruit Grilled Chicken. Make sure you save room for the Grapefruit Cake with Grapefruit Cream Cheese Frosting.
My Husband: That’s a lot of grapefruit.
Me: If you don’t like it, you can eat an orange. The juicer broke today before I got through the second case.
Eventually, it dawned on me that we didn’t have to eat all the gifts that came our way each Christmastime. We could give them away. That proved to be more problematic than you can imagine.
Me: Hi! I’m here to donate these 47 cases of citrus fruit.
Food Bank Volunteer: Sorry, we don’t accept fresh food.
Me: Why not?
Food Bank Volunteer: Liability.
Me: You’re afraid you might be held liable for providing fresh food to the needy? Are you even aware of the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996? It says–
Food Bank Volunteer: (cutting me off) Listen, I don’t make the rules, lady. If you have any canned food that has been linked to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, we’ll be happy to take that.
One thing that has never occurred to me is to refuse all these gifts, or return them, so mostly we just suffer in silence. I guess it’s our burden in life to register Vitamin C levels that are way off the charts, at least for a few months out of the year.
That is not the approach some people would take. Some people, like my husband’s younger brother, are
ingrates gift returners. A few days after Christmas, he sent me an email asking if it would be ok to return the very, really, very did I say how very expensive? gift I we gave him.
I replied, Sure, don’t be silly, of course it’s ok to return it if you don’t like it.
But, really, it was not ok.
In fact, after thinking about it for a few days, I’ve come to believe that there are only two instances in which it is ok to return a gift.
- It is broken. It’s ok to return to get a replacement that works.
- It does not fit. It’s ok to return to get the correct size.
I’m sure that there are folks out there who will disagree with me and say that Great Aunt Ethel-Anne really wants you to have something you will enjoy, not necessarily that acrylic and kevlar blend sweater with the two actual, genuine pine cones stuck on it that she gave you. If you’re one of those people who thinks this way, let me disabuse you of that notion right now. Great Aunt Ethel-Anne wants you to have that exact sweater she picked out for you. She saw it there in the store, considered how it would look on you, decided it was absolutely perfect and carefully spent a portion of her fixed income in an effort to bring a little holiday joy into your life.
Don’t you dare return that sweater.
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