In the aftermath of the holidays I have encountered several regifting horror tales. From a gifting point of view these rank right up there with the shower scene in Psycho.
The first instance was my very own. I received a lovely sweater for Christmas from "Aunt Evelyn". (Don't worry, that is not her real name and she doesn't read my blog). To my slight dismay, it was a size too big, but I was confident that I would be able to do an even exchange and be rockin' my new cardie pronto. Normally, I wouldn't have even mentioned the impending switch to the giver, but I was concerned that the return might be noted on "Evelyn's" credit card account and she--ever paranoid of online commerce--would fear she had been hacked.
When I broke the news to my aunt that I'd be making the change, she was oddly opposed. "Isn't it cotton, dear? It will probably shrink." I persisted, and reiterated that I was only telling her because I didn't want to flag her Visa. Then I called the retailer. They traced the purchase using Evelyn's name and zip code, and then the CSR read the following: "Happy Birthday Evelyn, with love from Janet." And there it was: The sweater was a REGIFT!
What's a Grace to do?
Absolutely nothing. For the same reason that I felt duty bound to let "Evelyn" know that I was making the exchange--the off chance that the credit/charge was somehow posted on Janet's account--I couldn't possibly proceed. This could have alerted "Janet" that the lovely cardigan that she bestowed up on Evelyn for her birthday had been regifted. So I did the next best thing: I gave the sweater to my mom, sharing the whole sordid tale with her. She was thrilled with this post-holiday surprise and got a good laugh out of it besides.
The next two tales come from a loyal reader. She writes:
I gave my father and step-mother a George Foreman grill for Christmas. They had admired ours on a previous visit and talked about how much they enjoy grilled food but how their living space does not allow for outdoor barbecuing. This seemed like a perfect gift. Alas, he called to "thank" us and said: "We're giving the grill to your step-brother Fred because we know he'll use it more than we would." I blame my wicked stepmother, but still....
And the second: I gave a Christmas ornament to my neighbor that was decorated with local emblems (the name of our city and its crest, some iconic landmarks--it sounds kitchy but it was tasteful). She wrote me a thank you and in it said, "I gave the ornament to my daughter. Now that she lives in Seattle, it will be good for her to have a remembrance of her hometown."
These are both instances of sharing too much. Both parties should have quit at "thank you." It is unlikely that you would have caught them in the regift had they not outed themselves, and their unnecessary outspokenness was potentially hurtful and assuredly thoughtless. Console yourself with the knowledge that you are indeed a Grace: giving a present that someone had admired and expressed a desire for is the utmost in skilled gifting, and giving a gift to a neighbor that connotes that which you share (i.e. your hometown) is both clever and meaningful. It's tough to be a Grace surrounded by Grunts.
The moral of the story Graces, is that when regifting, do so with the utmost care and keep your regifting to yourself. Aunt Evelyn didn't even violate any of my regift rules and she was busted--it's a delicate business to be sure. The others, well, they need to remember that ever so simple GraceRule: If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing.