Ah, Christmas. It’s a time of giving. It’s also a time of receiving presents from your fun-loving Samoan grandmother that she bought from the $2 shop (bless her). The thought is there. …On her side. On yours? Are you ever going to wear that fluorescent polyester neck scarf and matching sarong? Are you really? Probably not (sorry grandma).
But you know who would really love that fluorescent polyester neck scarf and matching sarong? Someone else. There’s 8 billion people on the planet. Someone has to want what you’ve got. It’s science.
Re-gifting is a little taboo in terms of faux-pas. Christmas is all about giving, and being grateful for what you have received in return. But does that mean we have to keep fluoro polyester sarongs for the rest of eternity, shoved away in a small cupboard with the rest of our unwanted gifts that we feel too guilty to get rid of? What happens when you turn 50? How big is the cupboard going to be then? Full of fluoro polyester sarongs that you’ve never worn, and that some babe going to Magaluf for the best weekend of her life would rock on the beach/in the club/sitting down at dinner/riding a bucking bronco in some obscure club on the Punta Ballena?
No, gifting is about the thought and the ritual. It is a way of saying, ‘I see you and appreciate you,’ and it’s not always about the gift itself. Yes, we want to give gifts to others that we know they’ll like and enjoy (and hopefully receive the same), but accurate gift-giving (without a wedding registry) is a hard thing to do, especially for people you don’t know so well, and it’s more about giving them something, than giving them the exact pair of chartreuse mittens they’ve always wanted.
As I write this, I’m extremely tired and agreeable considering I have eaten my weight in ham and roast potatoes (which I make myself, and I have heard are exceptionally crispy thank you very much, you’d be blessed to try them), so perhaps my opinion is a little more relaxed considering my current state of being. A meteor could be barrelling into earth, and at this moment I would still be like, ‘eh, what will be, will be.’ I’m not going to be offended if someone re-gifts a present that I have painstakingly chosen for them. Am I?
There’s something I like to call the chain of gratitude. People love to talk about presents. What you got who, what you got yourself, what other people got you… Consumerism is rife, my dudes. So when re-gifting, it’s very important that you re-gift those unwanted presents to those outside of the chain of gratitude.
Someone from work give you a panettone for Christmas (but you hate panettone – sorry, I’m not a fan of brioche…)? Re-gift it. Sure, maybe don’t re-gift it to someone else from work as they could follow the chain of gratitude right back to you and get offended, but there’s nothing wrong with giving that panettone to your granny who you know will love it.
What are you going to do? Keep it forever and pass it down to your grandchildren? Sorry babes, that’s actually called re-gifting. Your great-aunt left you a Picasso when she passed? Re-gifting. Got a family trust fund? Re-gifted money. Do a yearly wardrobe cleanse and give it all to charity? Re-gifting, babe. It’s how the world works. We give and we take.
Do you think re-gifting is lazy gift-giving? Probably. But I like to think of it as good for the environment – really you’re doing us a favour. Is it a bit cheeky? Maybe. But I think in a such a polarized world where you either hoard more things than you need, or have nothing at all, it’s probably better to pass it on than keep it and waste it.
So don’t be afraid! It’s better to give things away that keep them forever unused, or worse, throw them away. We have enough pollution in the world due to discarded consumer products and the collateral it takes to make them. Give those presents to someone else who will appreciate them more than you. It doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate that you received it in the first place. It’s about the act of giving, not the gift. That’s what Christmas is all about.