I spent the morning finishing up my Christmas shopping at Target. Then I braved a stop at the post office to get a last-minute gift on its way. The crowds, I’m happy to say, were not nearly as bad (in size or attitude) as I expected. In fact, almost everybody seemed patient, polite, and in a good mood, ready with a “Merry Christmas” (or the more politically correct “Happy Holidays”). Maybe people got the craziness out of their systems on black Friday.
Gift giving – for Christmas or otherwise – can be a tricky business. What should I get? How much should I spend? What color/size/style will suit the person best? Should I leave the tags on and tuck in a gift receipt in case they decide to return the item I spent so much time picking out especially for them? There are no easy answers. But one definite “don’t” is regifting. Do you remember where that faux pas occurred in Jane Austen? And who was guilty of committing it? It was Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park (chapter 26).
Fanny, in great astonishment and confusion would have returned the present instantly. To take what had been the gift of another person, of a brother too, impossible! it must not be! and with an eagerness and embarrassment quite diverting to her companion, she laid down the necklace again…
Mary Crawford was quite willing to part with what had been a gift from her brother Henry as… “He is always giving me something or other. I have such innumerable presents from him that it is quite impossible for me to value or for him to remember half. And as for this necklace, I do not suppose I have worn it six times.”
Fanny was thus pressed into accepting the gift after all, but the circumstances ruined all her pleasure in it. Reflecting and doubting, and feeling that the possession of what she had so much wished for did not bring much satisfaction, she now walked home again, with a change rather than a diminution of cares since her treading that path before.
So remember: no regifting! Though it may seem like a tempting a solution, it’s too risky. The recipient is bound to find out, and then where will you be? Come to think of it, this same scene highlights another gift-giving dilemma: what to give the man/woman/child who has everything.
So, are you done with your shopping yet? What or who is your biggest gift-giving challenge? Do you remember a gift-giving occasion in The Darcys of Pemberley, which also involved an item of jewelry?