Last week’s post on the best worst presents hat Mr PoP and I have ever received sent me down memory lane thinking of all the bad gifts that I have seen gifted in my life. And one sticks out in my mind for its utter ingenuity.
About a decade ago, my sister got married. She and her husband got married shortly after graduating undergrad, so for the majority of their dating life neither were earning grand sums of money. Early in the marriage her husband was transitioning from his job assistant-managing a fast food restaurant into a new career in IT, and my sister was starting to climb up the corporate totem pole.
They were using their savings to buy their first home. And so, despite not being a particularly crafty person by nature, my sister decided to make Christmas ornaments for all of the family trees as some frugal holiday gifts. Though this tradition was started when they were tight on funds, it was one that my sister (and many in our family) really liked. So we were all glad when it continued for many years.
Except, as it turned out, her mother-in-law.
Well, it wasn’t so much that she didn’t like the Christmas ornaments the first couple of years. She did!
She just saw my sister and her husband start to do better in their careers as a few years passed. They moved from their starter home to a newer and bigger home when they had to move for a new job. They had plenty of money for disposable luxuries like hiring a pooper-scooper service to pick up the dog poo in their backyard and going out to dinner regularly.
And apparently MIL didn’t feel like she was getting a big enough cut of the luxuries.
So one Thanksgiving about five years ago, my sister’s MIL planted her foot firmly in her mouth over pumpkin pie when she stated:
“It’s not the thought and effort that go into a gift that counts. It’s how much you spend on the person that really matters.”
I wish I had been a fly on that wall. In that family, it’s not really acceptable to challenge or argue at the dinner table, so (as the story goes) everyone at the table just sat in stunned silence as they absorbed what MIL had just said.
Luckily The Next Day Was Black Friday
The next morning, my sister was out at the mall with a friend and was recounting the ridiculous story of the previous night when they passed the clearance rack in the handbag section. There my sister found the world’s most hideous handbag on sale for ~90% off.
It was a Dooney & Bourke, which for those of you not familiar with handbags, translates to fairly expensive. The MSRP on this handbag was in the neighborhood of $300. It was a large, well-made handbag from a well-known brand.
But man was it ugly!
And far more appropriate style-wise for a 12-year-old than for someone five times that age.
With a quick check that her plan was cool with her husband, she bought it (it wasn’t much more than $20-$30, which was about how much they were spending on each person for the holiday outside of the traditional ornaments). Together she and her husband carefully scraped off the clearance tags making sure to leave the original price tag intact. They wrapped it up, and on Christmas morning gifted it to MIL (with the price tag still attached). She could do nothing but say how wonderful and thoughtful the gift was since she could see how expensive it was from the price tag!
For Christmas breakfast, MIL got to eat her words.
To the best of everyone’s knowledge MIL never used her “expensive” purse and my sister always treasured the year she gave her MIL exactly what she deserved for Christmas.
So the moral of the story… don’t be a greedy grubber over Thanksgiving this year, or you might just end up with coal in your stocking. Or a really ugly handbag.
Would you ever give a gift you thought the recipient deserved, like my sister? Have you?!? Share stories!