"Gah, she's such a pain in the ass!" Corb cried out as he hung up the phone as angrily as he could be. Which, in this day of the smart phone, is not half as dramatic as in days gone by.
I had been waiting patiently in the car. She had called immediately after a half an hour walk through the woods. I was cold, it was New England in December. It was the day before the first big snowfall of the season.
"What now, my love?"
"You know the Christmas gift I bought my mother? The small one that was just meant to compliment the gift card that I bought her?" Her. Ah, he had been talking to his mother, of course. Yes, I remembered it. A little garden statue he had purchased for about twenty-five dollars, at my suggestion. Just something to round out the present, make it a bit more personal.
I grinned. I could see where this was going. "She doesn't like it?"
"She does not like it. But Mom being Mom, she can't just accept a gift and keep her mouth shut about it. No, she has to tell me that she doesn't really like it. And then, she has to tell me that Jim looked at it, and he doesn't like it, either. And that she wants the receipt, as soon as possible, so she can exchange it."
See, I never really understood the concept of being negative about gifts that you get.There are some things that I will never understand...such as why men should feel obligated to let women enter elevators first...but when it comes to gift etiquette, if my mother taught me one thing, it was this: simply accept whatever gift you receive with a smile. That's all. Don't complain, don't insist that the person giving the gift do anything other than hand the gift over. I have never in my life heard my mother or father complain about anything they have received. That's the way it shoud be.
It's the thought behind the gift, not the gift itself, that is the important thing, I think.
Curiously, both of my significant others were not raised in families that felt the same way. Aside from Corb and his mom, there were many Christmases where I was with Josie where her parents would openly ridicule her about the gifts she gave them--the sweater was ugly, the clothing was too big. When was she going to exchange it for them? It better be soon.
The irony was, Josie's mother is one of the worst gift givers ever. She honestly repackages things that have been sitting in her house for years. Ashes received the same Tamagochi three years in a row, because they had been stockpiled five years earlier. One Christmas, no word of a lie, I received the gift of used ties that her husband had worn in the seventies and eighties. Some even had cigarette burns.
I didn't complain. I just accepted them and said thank you.
I don't know, am I wrong here? I posted something about this on Facebook,and one of my friends said their brother makes it a practice to open a present, look at it, then throw it back to the person and say, "Yeah, I won't use that." If someone ever was rude enough to do that to me, I would never buy them a present again.
Last night we went out to dinner with Corb's mom. Right before we left the restaurant, she handed him his Christmas gift. Just handed it, that was it, without another word.
It will look great on our balcony.