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To tell the truth

When it comes to gifts, is it better to be honest about what you think about a gift you received, should you pretend you like a gift regardless, or does it depend on the situation?

Back in December, while at a bath and linen store, I sat in/on this wonderful shiatsu massage chair cushion, the kind with the rolling balls as well as heat. There was no way I would spend $100 for something like that, but then I thought of Brian, whose birthday was just over two months away. He has had back pain for years, and because he uses a heating pad a lot of evenings, I was convinced this would be a great gift (and, yes, one that I would be able to use too).

Fast-forward a month or so, and Bri informs me that he wants Play Station 2 for his birthday. I had not bought the massage cushion yet, but I had my heart set on it. Besides, I don't think he had ever before told me exactly what he wanted as a gift, and this kind of bothered me. You see, Brian and I stopped exchanging Christmas gifts a few years ago, once Jordan was old enough to believe in Santa. We also never exchange anniversary gifts, and we are not into Valentine's Day. So in my mind (and most people's reality) it seemed as if Brian was taking away the one opportunity I had to get him a gift. Sure he was making it easy on me, but I am one who believes that it is the thought that counts.

So I suggest to his mother if she had not gotten him a gift, she could get him the PS2. She agreed, so I thought my problem was solved (note, had she already bought him a gift, I would have relented and bought him the PS2). Well, the day I buy him the cushion, he tells me unless I bought him the PS2, I should take back the gift. Then, the evening of his birthday, he asks about his gift. I tell him I was waiting until his family came the next day before giving it to him. He said if I got him the PS2, he would rather have it now, but if I got him something else, I might as well just wait until tomorrow, since he would not want it anyway. Yoi!

He did open the gift that night (last night), and was not happy. He could not understand why I would not just buy him what he wanted. I explained that I really thought what I got him was useful/nice, etc. But what I really wanted to say to him was, "Stop being a baby. You are not five. And your mother got you the the PS2 anyway." But I mostly kept my mouth shut. The next morning, he asked if I was going to take back the cushion and pick up the PS2 on my way home from church. Seriously. At this point, I thought I should probably tell him he was getting the stupid gift, but I did not.

Finally, his family comes this afternoon, he opens up the gift he really wanted, and then he announces that he will use the massage cushion after all. Okay, I really wanted to hit him over the head with it. What? Now it is a nice gift?! I told him we should not keep it since he said he would not use it. But he insisted that he just wanted to the PS2, and that is why he did not appreciate the gift.

So is there a right and a wrong person here? I am not mad anymore, though I was kind of hurt last night. I am glad that Bri and I can be open and honest about things, but I think he should have just thanked me for the gift and that should have been the end of it. But consider this: A few years ago, Brian gave me this large, gold (which I am not a fan of) heart-shaped locket for Mother's Day. I did not like it, but he was obviously excited to give it to me, so I thanked him, told him it was sweet, but also said I did not think I had a picture small enough for it. He suggested I take it back and find something that would work. Fortunately, Target had nothing else like that, so I was off the hook. Well, about a year and a half later at Christmas, Brian buys me the same locket! I could not believe it (and I thought my memory was bad). I figured there was no way I was getting out of it this time, so I found a picture small enough and ended up wearing it until it broke.

So is the moral of the story to be truthful about a gift? Sure, if I was I never would have had to have worn the locket (which actually ended up being not so bad). But if someone is nice enough to give you something, should you just be grateful? It does not kill me to wear the tacky Christmas sweaters/sweatshirts I sometimes get in front of the people who give them to me. And considering we all have different tastes, surely someone appreciates the gifts I have received that end up at goodwill.

Or should I have just bought him what he wanted to begin with? I think he was a being a little selfish and immature complaining about not getting what he wanted, but was I that much better because I just had to buy him something I hoped he would want?

Well, Brian is using the cushion now, and he said he likes it and is sorry for not being more appreciative. I tried it again and now actually think it is too rough, so hopefully he will end up getting some use out of it. Maybe all is well that ends well...


Mel said…
facie--I don't think anyone is going to touch this one with a 10-foot pole. too risky.

so, I'll just say, you're both right, and we all have the capability of being childish.

there--was that inoffensive enough? : )

(at least you're off the present-buying hook most of the time--a real blessing, that.)
Facie :-) said…

At least no one will in print! I told this story at work, and original work husband (Dudee) sided with me and second work husband (Q) sided with Brian. A few others sided with me as well.

Now that time has passed, it is not really about sides. But the story was such a gem, I just had to share it. And yes, I guess if I don't feel like buying Bri a present ever again, then I am probably off the hook, so there is that...

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