It is common in December to both give and receive gifts. After all, it’s Christmas and there is lots of merry-making. I experienced something this December that made me realise that there’s another aspect to all this ‘gifting’ – returning a gift. It made me wonder if there is a correct way to receive, give and return gifts.
Let’s start with receiving gifts. I confess that I’ve made so many mistakes when I’ve received gifts. I’ve opened packages in front of the person who gave me the gift when I wasn’t supposed to; I’ve not opened gifts immediately when I should have. I’ve even lost a gift and accidentally thrown one away! The incident I remember the most was when I was about 18. My cousin returned from the US and brought with him a few t-shirts. He asked me to pick one. I looked at them and commented that they were so large that I could use them as a nightie. Everyone in the family told me off for making this comment. Apparently, a t-shirt from the US was so valuable that I had offended him by suggesting I would only use it to sleep in. I suppose, I was expected to wear this over-sized t-shirt and parade it around town. Anyway, I learnt my lesson; henceforth, I’ve never said anything more than, “Thank you,” when I receive gifts from the family.
Then there was the utterly embarrassing incident when I was spring-cleaning a few years ago. I found a whole box of tea bags and I knew I wasn’t going to use them. I didn’t have the heart to throw them out and decided to give them to a friend I knew would love some tea. A week after I gave her the box of tea bags, she texted me to say that the expiry date (which was printed on the side of the box and I hadn’t bothered to check) had passed. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she added, “You know, these were the same tea bags I bought for you as a gift from one of my trips overseas.” I was mortified and apologised profusely. Mercifully, we’re still friends.
As for giving gifts, I’ve also learned that when I give a one, I don’t bother to know what the recipient does with it. For example, I’m certain