I have known about the art of regifting ever since I tried to take a bit of Aunt Mildred’s fruit cake when I was a child. I lost two teeth (fortunately baby teeth), and I immediately regifted that mouthful into the hand of a cousin, and the rest of the cake to the family hunting dogs (I do hope all good dogs go to Heaven).
Regifting, albeit tacky, can work nicely in a pinch, at least until you get caught doing it, like most transgressions, minor or major. There is an art to regifting in case you didn’t know. First, you must keep accurate records as to who gifted what to you, you must rewrap it, and if you can, skip at least one gift-giving cycle to regift. For example, if you received it at Christmas of 2018, wait until Christmas of 2020 to regift it. So many novices will absent-mindedly regift an item to the person who gifted it to them the year prior, and then they’re busted. Also, others are watching, and some tend to keep track of the gifting from each year. I do not understand how or why they make such an effort, but they do.
Regifting often begins early in life. I recall two young boys who feared that their mommy wouldn’t find any presents under the Christmas tree for her, so they rummaged through her cosmetics and slipped away with a half-used tube of lipstick, powder and other accessories, then lovingly wrapped them in a matchbox with a brown bag paper and hid it beneath the tree. For two weeks she moved heaven and earth looking for her items, never dreaming her angelic boys would do such a thing. Christmas morning, with tearful joy, the mystery was solved as she found the present with “fOr mOmMy” scribbled on the brown paper wrapping. We, or they, were thanked for the wonderful gift, but instructed not to do that again.
While I don’t necessarily recommend regifting, let’s consider some items that might be considered for passing on to another deserving soul. One of the four Bill Bass singing fish mounts you now store in your closet, the jumbo toilet seat picture frame from Aunt Gladys and Uncle Lester, the festive dual deluxe punch bowl cleverly made by Cousin Roy from two bed-pans expertly brazed together as a high school shop project, or that genuine imitation velvet Elvis blanket that looks more like Willie Nelson with a bad case of the mange that was given to you by a secret Santa at work. These are all begging to be regifted.
I’ve heard stories of “creative regifters.” These are brave men and women who stand tall in their quest to regift in ways that are nearly untraceable (unless you use DNA testing). For example, a woman I used to work with received a beautiful Christmas dish filled with chocolate covered peanuts. She greatly disliked peanuts, but loved chocolate. So, one wintery evening she sat by the fireplace and melted the chocolate from the peanuts (while in her mouth), then dried the peanuts with paper towels and placed them back in the lovely decanter. No one knew. Well, I knew. I don’t accept peanuts from anyone anymore.
Perhaps if we were to be preoccupied with regifting, we should look at something we can regift that will be new each time we pass it on. It may begin with a smile, a hand-shake, a pat on the back for a job well-done or a helping hand when someone is in need. How long does it really take to hold the door for someone making their way out or in, or help in carrying packages?
Whoever coined the phrase “pay it forward” was wise well beyond their years. Who would have thought that the mere idea of an act of kindness in advance would be so revolutionary?
Christmas always seems to be the spring board for these types of thoughts, but how revolutionary would it be to consider a yearlong practice of regifting things like kindness, courtesy, a helping hand, encouragement, patience and love. Where do you begin? Maybe at home, at work, on the street where you live or even at church. We my just find that that is a gift we want others to regift.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. He can be heard Tuesday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon on 88.7 WOBO-FM and can be reached at [email protected]