All the fuss is over. The tree is down, and the kids are back to school. I’ve cleaned the living room – seriously how does the house get so dirty? And how do you not really notice it until you start to clean and then all you can see is filth?  Sorry I digress.

It is tidying up all the lovely gifts I was lucky enough to receive, that I am left wondering with a few, ‘is it too soon to pass this one on?’

I’m a difficult person to buy for it seems. I don’t think I am. I love books, jewellery, gardening, knitting. A voucher for any of these would do me well. I do understand the joy in buying something someone will love, and I love spending time trying to find the right gift. I also understand that we can’t get it right all the time.

And before any of my family and friends start worrying that I’m talking about their gift – No, I really loved yours. You can never have too many cheese graters! But seriously, how long do I have to keep hold of this.

Its not like my house is a shrine to minimalism – it is full of stuff. But its stuff that I want and like, not random stuff that I don’t need.

Am I being rude?

I used to keep stuff for six months before passing it on. It would sit there on a shelf, whispering reproachfully that it was unloved, that someone had spent time and money choosing it, that I was an ungrateful cow. To be honest as a fat middle-aged woman I have all the societal judgement I can handle right now without some ugly candle holder passing comment as well.

The candle holder was a lesson in point. It was bought by a very dear friend, whom I love. She is funny and quirky and holds me up (all my friends are trying to recall ever giving me a candlestick now, to see if its them I am talking about – the risks I take to tell you stories!)

So, this candle stick was ugly. I mean, almost offensively ugly.  Handmade and lumpy, black, with hippyish moons and suns all over it, the only thing that could have made it worse was if it had been tie-dyed.  I was polite when the friend gave it to me, wondering if I needed to call someone as she may have gone blind and not noticed. I smiled and said thank you. Then I shoved the damn thing in a drawer. Six months later I sent it to the charity shop. Someone else could appreciate it or wince every time they saw it.

That could have been the end of it.

But no.

A week later my friend arrived for coffee, filling me in on all the gossip since we’d last met. Sitting down for tea and cake she excitedly rummaged in her bag.

‘Look what I found,’ she declared pulling out something wrapped in bubble wrap and pushing it into my hands. She was all baited breath as I unwrapped the parcel and there it was. The ugly candle stick.

I looked down, trying to formulate the apology. Maybe I could say hubby cleared it out, and I’d been wondering where it was. Maybe I could just tell her it was vile and ask what I had done to offend?

‘I can’t believe I found another one,’ she beamed. ‘What are the chances of that? Now you have a pair!’

Any other friend and I might have thought they were taking the piss, but this friend is so sweet it wouldn’t occur to her. Smiling, my cheeks stiff with the shame of my ingratitude, I thanked her once again.

Lesson learned I put the candle stick in the bathroom, and then in the cupboard.

Then I drove to a town 50 miles away and donated it to a charity shop there.

I am a bad receiver of gifts.

I don’t want to hurt my sweet friend.

So, hypothetically, how long does one have to hold onto this bit of tatt, sorry unwanted gift, before manners say you can just get rid? Asking for a friend.

Not one of my friends, obviously. My gifts are perfect.

(a quick aside – searching for images of unwanted gifts and what comes up is women looking at pregnancy tests! Or women having their body hair removed???????)

2 thoughts on “How soon is too soon?

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