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Friday, December 18, 2009

Regifting and Me: Tweed Jackets and Book Jackets

I read somewhere or other that yesterday was National Regifting Day. Could this be true? I also learned--via Wikipedia--that the term originated on Seinfeld. Is that true?

My first experience with regifting came--not, as one might expect, from my own frugal family--but from my in-laws. While they were horrified at my family's propensity for cash gifts, deeming them "vulgar," I think they saw regifting as as aspect of WASP-thrift. Seems somewhat paradoxical.

Many months ago, we posted a picture of one of my late mother-in-law's creations: a jacket made of ties. The ties had belonged to Henri Coulette, a poet of some repute, and my father-in-law's buddy. My father-in-law took some of the ties after Henri died. Another of Henri's legacies was a tweed jacket, classic professorial attire. The first holiday after his death, my husband received the jacket all wrapped up. Sadly, it didn't fit, because Mr. FS is pretty tall. My mother-in-law-to-be suggested that I take the jacket, since it went with the Annie Hall look. I declined, Annie Hall being somewhat out of date at the time. So the jacket went back to hanging on a hook in the garage.

Several years later, I was 7 months pregnant with Frugal Son. I found a big bulky gift with my name on it. You guessed it: inside was Henri's jacket! My mother-in-law said "I thought this jacket would be great because it will fit you for the next few months." I said--somewhat crabbily--that I still didn't want it. My mother-in-law had no recollection of the earlier efforts to give us the jacket. So back it went to the garage. I do wonder where it is now. Those tweed jackets never wear out.

As a footnote, let me add that one year I received in the mail a copy of Elizabeth David's book on bread cookery, which I had given to my father-in-law several years before. It was now inscribed to me. I knew it was the same one because it was sans jacket, as my father-in-law has the bad habit of throwing out book jackets when he receives a book.

As a second footnote, you may be interested to know that simply by reading my blog, you are a mere one degree (or is it two?) of separation from Jerry Seinfeld, since I went to school with him--elementary through high school. No, we are not in touch.

Any stories on regifting? the good? the bad? the indifferent?


Funny about Money said...

Jerry Seinfeld was your classmate? Good grief.

Wanna hear "dated"? Johnny Mathis went to my junior high school.

Duchesse said...

I've blogged about this (see "There Will Be Gifts" in the index) but can always vent again. Regifting is simply dreadful. To paraphrase Hallmark, you simply do not care enough to give something decent.

There ARE exceptions. For example, I received the Hummel figurines when my twins were born. I loathe Hummel but I know someone who adored it, and gave her one.

You can do it once, then your regifting karma is used up. And I would NEVER give a used item as a gift. Okay, except maybe a vintage Hermes Birkin :)

I dislike regifting intensely. So intensely I better use my own blog to explore why.

Revanche said...

Regifting just makes sense to me. I mean, why waste an item if there's a perfectly good home out there waiting for it? I'm not talking about junky items that shouldn't have been gifted in the first place, just something completely not to your taste.

You're going to boo me outta here for playing, but this is the best I've got: an ex-boyfriend went to school with Jessica Alba. A different friend went to college with Natalie Portman, yet another with Kareem Abdul-Jabber's son. I think only that last impressed me, as he's a four degrees connection to Bruce Lee.

Duchesse said...

Revanche: Why not donate the item to a charity store like Goodwill, a gift drive or a shelter? The only time to regift is if it is an item you would have bought the person anyway and it is in perfect condition.

And while I'm at it, I dated Iggy Pop and Tom Watson (the golf pro) the same summer.

Revanche said...

Duchesse: Those are exactly the conditions under which I'd regift - in original, unmarked packaging, and if it's something I know they needed or wanted.

If the latter condition is filled but not the first, then I would simply pass along the item to the person if they wanted it, but not as a gift. But my friend group does that normally anyway, if there's something we have that someone else likes more than we do, we'll just give it to them (not as a wrapped "gift"). Does that make sense?

Everything else does go to Goodwill.

P.S. Iggy Pop? Impressed. :)

Duchesse said...

Revanche: Yes, there is formal gifting (gift presented wrapped, usually at an occasion) and informal gifting, usually called 'passing it on'. I am especially dispirited by the latter masquerading as the former. Would rather not have the 'gift'.

While you may be impressed, my father was not!

sallymandy said...

What an interesting story about regifting in your family.

My thoughts on the subject are that among like-minded people, passing on can be great and appreciated; but the givee should know it's a regift. In other words, I suppose I'd only pass on an unwanted gift as a non-gift.

I also have friends who adore previously used items that you just can't get in vintage jewelry, a signed book, etc. But I have to know the givee shares my value on this.

FS, have a great holiday. Best wishes to you and your family.

Duchesse said...

Merry Christmas, Frugal! May your family, near and far, have a wonderful, memorable time. Thank you for all your thoughtful and literate posts over the past year.

Frugal Scholar said...

@All--Thanks for your comments as always. I meant this as a somewhat amusing anecdote about my family-by-marriage. Duchesse wins the famous person contest! Wow! Loved Coffee and Cigarettes!