Bucks County Herald

Camille Granito Mancuso: Chatterbox

Happy no returns of the day

It’s December. Oh, how we all love this season … well, most of us do, despite the craziness.

Hanukkah started this past Monday, and Kwanza starts the day after Christmas, running until New Year’s Day. The Islamic holidays change each year and don’t follow the Gregorian calendar. This year, they didn’t occur in December.

Still, lots of us are still happy being busy, anticipating holiday celebrations this month.

These seasonal holidays involve gifting and that means shopping, but for every gift bought there is one given. That’s what gifting is and that’s where our story begins. For all practical purposes, wish lists are a huge help in holiday gift giving.

They are far better than shooting in the dark, but they still aren’t the perfect solution, especially when we’re working with groups. For families sharing wish lists, there’s always the possibility that someone could get two of the same thing. Uh, oh … returns.

There are times when even the recipients didn’t know that their regular size wouldn’t fit. Returns. Sometimes, we are surprised by how a specific color looks, the way something works, or how a fabric feels when we actually touch it.

Returns. There are recipients who just change their mind, or re-prioritize, and forgot to update their wish-list, or updated it too late. Returns. That’s a lot of returns; they are inevitable.

For the most part, though, gifts are fun to give and get. Most often, the gift giver will enjoy giving as much as the recipient enjoys receiving. Gifters spend time, effort and money shopping, as well as making emotional, and some creative, investment in what to buy for whom. As gifters, we hope to see that look of great pleasure on the face of those we give to.

As recipients, we want to see the gift that will give us that look of great pleasure, for the sake of our benefactor and for us too. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and when it’s not the case, what do we do? Of course, first and foremost, we must consider people’s feelings. Then, we have to consider the aforementioned time, money, effort, thought and emotional investment of our gifter. Last, but key, comes practicality as affected by good graces.

It seems sensible that in cases of bad fits and feels, we can all surrender to the fact that we did our best and it really didn’t work out, and that has to be okay. However, demonstrating good manners supersedes returning gifts just because they aren’t absolutely perfect. Those are the returns we definitely shouldn’t make, even if we can, and do, convince ourselves that we’re only being honest or simply practical.

Ugly sweaters are a great joke, or at least some people think so. However, when we get one that’s not a joke, though we know that we will never wear it, should we tell our old Granny that we don’t want it? Given with love, we could let her see us in it once or twice; we could just send her a photo. It’ll make her day.

Perhaps, if a gift is very expensive and really wrong, we could work something out, but if it’s do-able by any stretch, no matter the cost, keep it. If the T-shirts Aunt Elba gives us don’t have that pocket we love, so what? We can wear them anyway, even if it’s only to the Boy Scout car wash or to play music with our garage band. The benefits are many.

Obviously, it prevents chaotic post-holiday return effort for a person who has already made the pre-holiday purchase effort. More importantly, if we remember to keep everything in perspective, it builds us into better people.

A gift less than marvelous is nearly inconsequential, while smiling and taking it home with us can be very impactful.

Making someone feel good, whether that means going the extra mile to try to give the perfect gift, or back-tracking that mile to keep the imperfect one, is a never-regret kind of moment. Besides, lowering our needs is good training for life that doesn’t always deliver the goods we anticipate, work for, wish for, or want.

Such a gentle perspective holds the holidays in a softer light, and will warm us for years from the inside out in retrospect. The spirit in which we receive is just as important as the spirit in which we give, maybe more. So, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and Joyous Giving and Receiving Days.




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