Well, the much-anticipated day is almost here. The day we exchange our holiday gifts with friends and loved ones. The day after which we all literally “exchange” those very same gifts for something in our size or a store credit. But every now and then we receive a particularly thoughtful gift that we cherish forever.
However, this is not a blog about those sorts of wonderful timelessly appropriate gifts. This is a blog about the worst Christmas gifts… the “loser” gifts––the ones that we can never take back.
In my case, this would be most every gift I have ever received from my in-laws (with the exception of two really excellent books). These gifts are oftentimes just something to wrap up and slip under the Christmas tree so you can check that name off of your list. Usually, there are no gift receipts and frankly, they clearly look like something that has been shamelessly re-gifted.
But we open them at the appointed time, amidst the tinsel and mistletoe, and we smile and say, “I can sure use this.”
And then there are those special gifts that we know we will never wear, use or display in our homes the ones that are one-of-a-kind handmade items. Lovingly knitted sweaters, crocheted tea cozies and your adorable niece’s plaster handprint. Gifts all destined for the garage sale. These are the ones that leave a knot in our stomachs because we feel so guilty that we don’t really want them. “Thank you so much,” you feign. “I spent all month making that,” they reply. Wow! The knot grows tighter.
One of our account executives remembers her loser gift this way: “One year, I received pretty much the worst, most worthless gift I’ve ever been given. Needless to say, I attempted to sell them at a garage sale to no avail.”
Another team member recounts a gift that was clearly designed to help her overcome her obvious deficits. “My parents gave me a bunch of cookbooks, cookware and a ‘how to be a good hostess’ book…clearly a not-so-subtle message.”
Which is why a few years ago, our family made a pact to not give each other holiday presents, but rather take the money we would spend and buy ourselves something we really want.
I am sure you have your own “worst Christmas gifts stories” complete with those awkward moments of insincere “thank you’s.” Which is why a few years ago our family made a pact to not give each other holiday presents, but rather take the money we would have spent and buy ourselves something we really want. The mall still gets our money. But there are fewer returns and zero garage sales.
It takes away all the pressure of gift giving. It also gives us more time to spend with our families. And––most importantly––it limits our conversation to only words that are true…with the occasional white lie: “You haven’t aged a bit!”