The Art of the Regift

I decided to shop in my closet this year rather than spend money on gag gifts that will probably end up in someone else's regifting pile

On Christmas Eve, you open the gift from great-aunt Gertie. You're hoping that this year, it will be something you can use. You're hoping that she finally realizes you have grown up. That, in fact, you now have children of your own.

But no.

Great-aunt Gertie's gift-giving abilities seemed to have stalled in the early '80s. Right about the same time she drank too much wine and slipped under the dining room table. So, you smile as you open her present: a pink diary, complete with a lock.

See there, honey, it even has its own key. So, you can keep your secrets all to yourself.

Well, I'll let you in on a little secret, great-aunt Gertie, I'm not a teenager anymore!

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Later that evening, you add the diary to your stash of weird/tacky/strange/useless presents because you know one day they may come in handy. You'll be running late for an event with no time to shop and you don't want to arrive empty-handed. Let's be honest, who among us has not regifted?

So, having been invited to a white elephant party, I decided to shop in my closet rather than spend money on a gag gift that will probably end up in someone else's regifting drawer.

As I looked through the items I had stashed away, I wondered what in the world was going through the mind of the person who gave them to me. First, I lifted out a musical candy dish made in Switzerland. The border of the dish is imprinted with flags from around the world. Wind it up and it plays "Love Me Tender." This was given to me by my mom's best friend, who at 95, still has her wits about her. Someone must have stolen them on the day she purchased this present.

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Next, I found inflatable breasts and a pair of sunglasses with a penis attached to the nose piece. These were given to me by co-workers when I worked in the adult video industry. Memories of several birthday parties rushed past me. I grabbed onto one of them, hugging those ridiculous boobs to my chest, unable to suppress my laughter.

I pulled out a plastic martini glass that flashed red and blue—a gift from my daughter's mother-in-law, given to me before I had even met the woman. Who would ever buy something like this for someone before meeting face to face? What in the world had my daughter told her about me? But, I do have to admit, I actually drank from it once.

At the bottom of the closet was a ball of yarn. A dear friend had tossed it across the room and into my lap many years ago, promising to turn it into a shawl. Sadly, she never fulfilled this pledge, but in the short time I knew her, she filled my life with joy.

As I sat there, surrounded by all these unusual items, wondering which one to regift, I realized I couldn't give any of them away. They might be useless, tacky and odd, but they remind me of some of the most special people in my life. And there's no better gift than that.

Tags: friendship