Deck the Halls   8 comments

The holiday season is just around the corner. What’s the worst gift you’ve ever received? What’s the worst one you ever given?

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Gift-Giving Is Not My Love Language

I’m the first to admit that gift-giving is not my love language. My husband says I was born with the male shopping gene. I really hate to shop, especially in the winter, when buildings are over-heated and I have to wear or carry my coat through the aisles. I usually shop early – October — so it’s less painful, but it’s still not something I enjoy generally.

But I try to buy good gifts for each person on my list. I’ve spent months constructing quilts for people and I will troll the antique stores to find something unique that is just for that one person in the family.

I have to say CVD19 really screwed up my preferred Christmas-shopping methods. A lot of local companies have closed or were at such reduced capacity during the summer that I wasn’t able to make use of them and I refuse to buy crap from Amazon for Christmas presents. I did sew a quilt for my sister-in-law, but I’m facing Thanksgiving without having my holiday ducks in a row and I’m not happy about it. I might have to go back into the stores when there are other shoppers. NOOOO!

Worst I’ve Ever Received?

My father-in-law was always the source of bad gifts. One year we received these slippers in the mail. We called them “sleeping bags for the feet”. You get the word-picture, I’m sure. They were poofy and huge. I guess they kept our feet pretty warm, but they were slippery as snot. Kiernan was a baby then, so he didn’t have a pair, but Bri literally skated on our wood floor in hers. Thank goodness she had good balance, but she now complains of a touchy knee, and I’m pretty sure the “foot bags” had something to do with that. She fell down so often during that winter.

Brad decided to wear his to the mailbox one day before New Year’s and he wiped out three times on the way to the fence, took them off and walked back to the house barefoot to chuck them in the trash. I think I kept mine because it’s rude to throw away gifts (right?) but I never used them. They made my feet sweat and I always felt like if I put my foot down without thinking, I was going to land on my butt. I don’t think they made the trip with us when we moved houses.

I think it was the next year that my father-in-law’s wife-at-the-time sent me this sweater. It was yellow and black and big enough to house a circus. I’m not kidding. At 5’1″ and maybe 110 pounds, I had room for other people in the sweater. And, it was UGLY! I never wear yellow because some people shouldn’t wear yellow and I’m one. But also, yellow and black is just a garish combination and garish is not recommended when you’re 5’1″. Nobody sees YOU when you’re wearing a sweater like that. Definitely, that was the worst gift I’ve ever received.

I Hate Giving Bad Gifts

One reason I hate gift-giving is that I hate giving bad gifts and I exert a lot of effort in finding the right gift for each person on my list. I’m not really a consumer, so I think gifts ought to mean something.

So, have I ever given a bad gift? Of course I have! And guess what I gave.

Remember that sweater?

It was a Secret Santa gift to a coworker who was tall and big boned with blond hair. I felt guilty about giving it, but I was never going to wear it and — well, she loved it and wore it fairly often over the next couple of years. And, because she was a big girl with golden blond hair, she looked good in it.

And, Then There was This One

Our old church used to have a church Christmas Party that featured a “white elephant” gift exchange. Each person would bring a gift and the host would number the guests. Number 1 would select a gift. Number 2 could select a gift or “steal” the gift of Number 1. If the “steal” occurred, Number 1 could select another gift (you couldn’t steal back your first gift on that turn). Number 3 could then select a gift or steal #1 or #2’s gift. And then it would go from there. No gift could be stolen more than three times (just so we’d go home sometime. Baptists can party late into the evening because we don’t drink alcohol). It was great fun with a group of people who had a great sense of humor.

One year, Fred brought a gift. It was a photo of him standing on the side of the pool at Chena Hot Springs wearing a Rambo-like bandana. A recovering drug-addict when we knew him, the photo showed an extremely drunk macho young-man beating his bare chest at being tough enough to stand in the snow at -25 F’. The frame was worth some money and the photo was HILARIOUS. It got stolen many times that night (this was actually before the only-three-times rule was instituted).. It eventually ended up with some jokester, because it came back to the next year’s gift exchange and the same thing happened. It was a feature of that gift exchange for a good 15 years. This “ugly” gift became a church tradition still remembered fondly by everyone who ever participated.

I never won it. I’m not a very aggressive “thief” and so it always got taken from me. One year, one of a married couple “won” it and then they were transferred to Hawaii before the following Christmas. They were packing and found the photo and brought it to me because they figured I’d put it back into rotation, which I did. And when someone unwrapped it, the general consensus was some of us were worried that the tradition had ended when Jan left town.

So, maybe it was the “worst” gift, but it was a coveted gift and it turned out to be the best gift because Fred died a few years ago and whoever that photo ended up with when the church collapsed after a scandal gifted it to Fred’s wife. We had all left the church a handful of years before, but we got together at the wake (Baptists eat at wakes, there’s no drinking). We were standing around catching up and telling “Funny Fred” stories, including that photo. Becky expressed regret that she didn’t have a copy of that photo. We thought it had gone to Wyoming with a couple who had retired a couple of years before. She then told the story of how that photo came to be a church tradition.

She and Fred were photo-philes, so they had thousands of photos of one another. At least 50 photos covered the largest wall in their house – fishing, playing with the kids, hiking, marriage, etc. Fred plucked that photo off the wall to give at the white elephant gift exchange because he knew she hated it. It dated from back in his active-alcoholic days. He figured she wouldn’t object to never seeing a reminder of those tough times again.

That isn’t what happened because the church fell in love with that photo. Over the years, that relationship remodeled Becky’s feelings about Fred’s past as represented in that photo. She didn’t have a copy of it and she kind of regretted that after Fred died. None of us know who had the photo or reached out to that retired couple, but a few weeks later, Becky came home from work to find a gift-wrapped package on her doorstep with the photo, still in its original frame, waiting for her.

I just thought I’d share that. Gifts are funny things. What they mean to the receiver may be quite different from what they meant to the giver.

Posted November 23, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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8 responses to “Deck the Halls

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  1. What a great story about Fred and the picture! I’m so happy it got back to the person who needed it.

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  2. You’re just like me. I also hate shopping, so I do my Christmas shopping early in October and avoid the crowds in December.

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    • Yes, I try to do mine in the summer. Unfortunately, CVD19 messed that up for this year. Which is okay. I just bought my son jumper cables for his birthday (Dec 20) and a car ER kit for Christmas. He needs them. I know he doesn’t have them. And, he’ll be so surprised.

      My husband is getting plumbing parts because he asked for them. And, he’s agreed to pay for an Ancestry membership for me. I think my brother and sister-in-law will opt out for Christmas Eve, so I’ll deliver the quilt and maybe an indoor picnic to their house. And, our daughter is living in Hawaii, so we probably won’t actually exchange gifts with her. She’s not much of a materialist anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. White Elephant makes me glad I don’t celebrate Christmas! LOL

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