I invoke the famously blunt language of my Michigan compatriot, Ted Nugent, aka "The Motor City Madman" to capture I think of regifting. As The Nuge would say, regifting "sucks giant amounts of dead penguin d---s".
First, The Nuge would want me to define terms. Regifting is neither giving someone something used, such as a vintage bag, nor giving one of your possessions, like your antique marble bookends, to your friend who loves them. It's passing on a gift you got from someone else, as a gift.
Reasons why a person might regift include:
1. The item is wrong for her, but she figures it might be 'right' for someone else.
It is only right for someone else if it is the identical item she would buy for the recipient, and is in mint condition. Example: She was given a bottle of Lagavulin by a grateful client, but doesn't like scotch– and it's her friend Jay's favourite treat.
2. She is watching her spending.
Fine. She can bake a batch of cookies. (The Nuge would suggest you shoot a mallard, but I'm not behind all his gift ideas. Picking buckshot out of your dinner is no fun.) Or she could give her time or skills.
3. She has no idea what to give you, and short of time or energy, wraps up something on hand.
Come on, that's why they invented express shipping.
4. She does not really want to give a gift, a ritual which embodies celebration, affection, respect, and gratitude, especially gratitude.
Insincerity is the mother of regifting. In these moments, she might reflect on why she has accepted the invitation or maintained this relationship.
OK, there are frickin' exceptions
You could regift if the item is exactly what you would buy for the person anyway. But let's face it, most regifts are those dumb (OK, Ted, dumbass) candles-and-paper napkin sets that people bring as hostess gifts, bland, bitsy department store earrings or a remaindered science fiction novel received at an office gift exchange.
Someone (I'm not saying it's Ted, but I'm not saying it's not) would regift something so awful it's clearly a joke. So, he says, wrap up that rockin' tee shirt you got from your brother and hope your mother in law laughs till she spews.
Why regifting riles me
Ted says, "If you don't crush evil, then evil will get you."
I may have been fooled a time or two, but 90% of the time I can spot a regift. I once observed a museum gift store appointment book given three times before it passed from my circle of acquaintances.
The regift represents obligation rather than celebration. LPC, on her blog Privilege, writes that her father once received four pairs of sheepskin slippers from his children. But at least they knew what he liked.
The regift reveals that the giver paid cursory to zero attention to the receiver. The driving thought of the giver is, "On whom can I offload this gradoo?" Regifting negates the attentional aspect of gift-giving.
And therefore, the gift has as much chance of delighting the receiver as The Nuge has of turning vegan.
As Ted says, "There is no bag limit on happiness." How much happiness is in a regift of "The Last Lecture", complete with the business card of the giver's insurance agent, which he forgot to remove?
Finally, before I get comments apprising me of The Nuge's politics and attitudes, I know his scene. (He was once the boy who hung out at Mom's best friend Sue's house.) Ted's views are not, in any respect other than the regifting issue, endorsed by this blogger.
Tomorrow's post, the last till Jan. 4, supplies a useful last-minute gift idea.