Is there anything worse than tearing off that holiday wrapping paper and discovering a gift you don’t like? When you’re a kid, it’s disappointing in a spirit-crushing kind of way. Nothing conveys the feeling better than the scene from A Christmas Story where Ralphie opens the pink bunny pajamas from Aunt Clara. I’m sure we’ve all had our pink bunny pajama moment. Mine was a too-large, powder-blue, kitty-cat, Capricorn sweatshirt. As an adult, it’s not about the gift anymore, though, is it? No, now it’s worse. It’s all about not wanting to hurt the gift giver's feelings.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not just the thought the counts. Your acting ability is of paramount importance. Feelings are at stake. Best fake smile in place, you rave about the gift, all the while hoping and praying that your dear friend or beloved family member doesn’t pick up on your angst.
As an adult, the worst gift I ever received came from my nephew, Jerry, who I dearly love. He’s a computer genius who works as a software engineer. He’s been building computers since he was a little guy, so I don’t need to go on about how brilliant he is. And, of course, he’s always up on the latest technology and products. He’s also incredibly kind and thoughtful. He built my husband and me our first computer back in the early ’90s. He’s spent the ensuing years updating and maintaining it, and patiently attempting to teach us how to use it. (He’s a good teacher! It’s not his fault his students are hopeless.) Not the kind of guy whose feelings you’d ever want to hurt.
It was circa 2010 when I unwrapped this gift from the person I’d least like to receive a bad gift from. I opened the box to find this…thing. “It’s a Kindle,” Jerry said. “You can put as many books as you want on it. It’s really neat.” I stared at the piece of electronic gadgetry knowing Jerry was wrong and convinced that its primary purpose was to confuse and confound. Even worse, its evil intention was to replace the things I treasure above all other material items – books. No way would I allow this plastic-coated, book-usurper to change my “reading experience.”
Sandra Bullock-esque acting skills engaged, I gushed with fake appreciation. Then I tucked it back into the box while mentally clearing a space in my junk drawer to stow it.
One tiny problem. Jerry is the kind of guy who will check in with you later to see how you like the gift. I know this about him, and as the weeks passed, the thought pestered at me. I couldn’t lie and say I’d used it. I didn’t even know how it worked. He’d totally see right through it. Most of all, I didn’t want to offend Jerry. After about two months, I told my husband, Dan, something along the lines of, “I gotta take that stupid thing out of the box and see if I can get it set up because I know Jerry is going to be calling to see how I like it.”
So I did.
The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve never loved any gift as much as I love that Kindle. You might not be as shocked as I was to learn that none of my conspiracy theories turned out to be true. The opposite, in fact. A month later, I bought one for Dan for his birthday because he kept commandeering mine.
|This is it! The best "worst" gift ever.|
And yes, that phone call from Jerry came just as I anticipated. Thankfully, I was able to honestly tell him just how much I LOVED his gift. I also confessed all, and we had a good laugh. Of course, he knows me, too, and he suspected I wouldn’t be too jazzed about the gift initially. But he also knew I’d love it if I just gave it a try. I still have and use that original Kindle. And enough “books” to fill a library all stored in that tiny, portable space. The Best Worst Gift. Ever.
Have you ever had a similar gift experience? What’s the best worst (or maybe just the worst) gift you ever gave or received?
Carol’s latest holiday title, Defending Christmas is available now! To check out all the stories in the 12 Days of Heartwarming Christmas series, visit the Christmas Town website.
For more information about Carol Ross, including a complete list of her books, please visit her website: carolrossauthor.com
I’m happy you got to love your Kindle after all, Carol. The Best/worst Christmas gift I got was a portable typewriter when I was 16. It was delivered when I was home alone so I saw what it was, but left it inside the door so my mother wouldn’t know I’d seen it! It was what I’d wanted but of course, I had to act surprised. And the funny part is that I wrote my first novel on that typewriter, many years later!ReplyDelete
Janice, that it so funny. You're a good daughter to pretend like you were surprised. I hope you still have it.Delete
I actually can't think of a gift I ever received that I disliked. Maybe that's kind of amazing. Never thought about it. Thanks for the post. Now I'll look deeper to see what I find.ReplyDelete
I think that is amazing, Roz! My mom wasn't the best gift giver in the world, so I can think of a few items that made me shake my head. She tended to buy us kids things she liked rather than what she thought we might like. It was actually pretty funny. I felt bad for her for when I got older because I realized how much she disliked shopping. Lol.Delete
Oh my, it is a good thing you knew he would be checking up on you. That is a wonderful story.ReplyDelete
I cant think of too many bad gifts I have received over the years. Oh wait, just a year ago. Our son has been married for 2 1/2 years now. Our daughter in law knows that I love snowmen. So she got me a sweater with a snowman face on it. She said she saw it and thought of me. I looked at it and like you, became an instant actress. Sigh, it was the ugliest snowman I have ever seen. And he didn't even look happy. I like happy and cute and whimsical. Well, she didn't even ask about me wearing it. It still sits in my closet. Hope you have a super special Christmas. quilting dash lady at comcast dot net
LOL! That's perfect, Lori. It's sweet that she thought of you. So funny how different our tastes our as humans, isn't it?Delete
I think the worst situation is when you get something that is supposed to be hung on the wall or put out for display and you actually see the person often enough that you can just stash it away if you don't like it. Oh, my.ReplyDelete
Hahaha! Virginia, yes! That is the worst. I've received a few of those gifts over the years. I try to write it off to MY taste being different. But yikes. And then there's the question of how long do you need to keep it before "re-gifting" to someone who might like it or donating to charity? I'm never offended if someone parts with something I gave them, but my worst fear is offending someone I care about.ReplyDelete
I'm like Carol and Virginia. I'd display something ugly indefinately to avoid hurting feelings. Fortunately I live half a continent away from most of my family, so I can stash the fancy figurines on the back of the shelf without hurt feelings. And they've kind of grown on me over the years.ReplyDelete
BTW, I'm a kindle convert, too. I wanted it for travel, and ended up using it for most of my reading. In fact, I hope there's a new waterproof model under the tree, so I can use it in the tub.
Beth! I haven't heard about the waterproof model. When this one finally gives up the ghost I may have to upgrade to that. I really prefer the basic style for reading (as opposed to the fire tablet style) because the screen looks more like paper. I don't like to read on a shiny screen.Delete
I love A Christmas Story! We watch it every year.ReplyDelete
I wasn't too sure about the Kindle at first, but now my husband and I both use it. I'll admit, I usually buy print books because they're my favorite, but I've downloaded some great books so we get the best of both worlds. Merry Christmas!
It's one of my favorite Christmas movies, too, Tara! Right up there with Christmas Vacation.Delete
I like having the best of both worlds, too! I still enjoy my print books and I think I always will. Merry Christmas to you!
I can't remember getting a gift I didn't like. I do remember, as a pre-teenager, telling myself I was too big now to get super excited about gifts and that I was going to conduct myself as an adult during Christmas festivities. So I politely opened my gifts and told everyone thank you. And at the end of the day my grandmother took me to my room and gave me what for. Apparently, one of my aunts was in tears because she'd worked very hard to pick out just the right gift and she was crying because she was sure I didn't like it. My granny told me to act like I liked it, even if I didn't. But the thing was, I did like it. I LOVED it. It took me a while to convince my aunt that I really did.ReplyDelete
LeAnne, this is such a cute story! I love it. You need to put that in a book. That's what you get for being "mature" I guess. ;)Delete
All my childhood presents were so magical, the rocking horse my dad built me with the two mops for mane and tail, the little white mouse with the red eyes in the cage atop the mantel that eventually turned into hundreds of little mice, but the best present I think I ever got as an adult was from a friend who truly looked at my primitive off-grid, backwoods world and changed it with a battery operated power tool set. I still have that drill, circular saw and sawzall and without a doubt this was the most exciting and useful present I've ever received. Over the years the tools have been so well used all the rubber coating has worn off the grips. I can't think of a present I was ever given that disappointed, but this gift made my life so much easier. I wish I had that gift giving talent.ReplyDelete
Oh, Nadia, you have truly been blessed with both lovely gifts and memories! The rocking horse does sound magical.Delete
My MIL gave me an ugly, old lady scarf. Probably regifted from her bridge club exchange.ReplyDelete
LOL! I've been the recipient of a couple of those regifted items. Sometimes they're not so bad, especially when you know the person do the re-gifting is truly thinking of you. But this sounds like that was not the case.Delete
I love the story! What a cool nephew you have. Not only does he give great gifts, he "gets you" as well.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Liz! He really is the best nephew we could ever ask for.Delete
LOL, my wonderful father-in-law was a QVC fan, and the ladies selling tupperware must have been stellar. Every Christmas for a decade, I received tupperware. I've boxes of it in the outdoor shed.ReplyDelete
Hahaha! Pam, this is perfect! Exactly what I'm talking about. He thought it was great, so he was convinced you would, too.Delete