The gifts that keep on giving

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It would be nice if the concept of regifting was about protecting the environment but really it’s about making that mangy—I mean festive—stuffed reindeer wearing a Maple Leafs hat someone else’s problem. It’s like a demented holiday version of hot potato.

The object is to get rid of the mug with “You have to look through the rain to see the rainbow” emblazoned across it in the colours of the rainbow, or the “belly button brush,” before the holidays end or you’re stuck with it. I suppose those can be regifted throughout the year but that mangy reindeer can’t be rewrapped for a July birthday.

Personally, I think it’s cheating to continue doling out the flotsam and jetsam of the holidays between Christmas and New Year’s. Once Christmas has passed and the carols have stopped that’s it. Game over.

Tony’s family has an odd tradition they call the “lucky dip.” I suspect they’re being ironic. Everyone buys three gifts worth $1-$5 which are wrapped and placed in a pile. Everyone takes a turn pulling a gift until there’s nothing left. There could be anything underneath the snowman paper held together with gobs of tape on the folded ends. That’s what makes it stressful.

If you’re lucky you get a chocolate bar and lottery ticket or the much sought after box of Viva Puffs—those cookies with marshmallows, jam, and a “chocolaty coating.” You can steal a gift if it’s something you really want. That’s rare though. Mostly you’re just thankful you didn’t get the lacy dollar-store thong.

The beets go on…

This year my husband bought a package of pickled beets, which originated in Romania. He thinks it’s funny. Some poor sod is going to have to take those home because Veronica, Tony’s mom, has an eagle eye, so there’s no way to “forget” a gift at her house. I’ve tried it. I had one boot on when she came down the stairs carrying my orange pylon. “Don’t forget this,” she said holding it out to me.

There has been a tradition of regifting in this game. Several years back there was a pregnancy test that reappeared year after year. My niece August and I tried to saddle one another throughout the year with a pair of elbow-long pink rubber gloves with “Princess” written across them. I’d slip them into her backpack and she’d hide them somewhere in the house. I don’t know what happened to them. But I suspect I have them somewhere.

It’s not just purchased gifts that get regifted. Home kitchens turn into Mr. Christie factories at this time of year as everyone rolls up their sleeves and digs out a rolling pin. Those sugary calories have to go somewhere and, personally, I’d prefer that it be someone else’s thighs.

I don’t really bake. I like measuring things and putting them in a bowl and stirring them together and then I lose interest.  I do like eating a warm cookie with melty chocolate chips. But once I’ve eaten one there are still 23 more cookies to eat. I don’t want 23 cookies. Well, actually I kind of do want 23 more cookies but I don’t want to go into a sugar coma.

The solution is to wrap those suckers up or put them in a tin and voila, someone else’s temptation.

People stress out about Christmas baking. “I have to get my Christmas baking done!” they say. No you don’t. Not really. As women of a certain age, we should know this. It’s guaranteed the other women of a certain age are going to bring trays and tins of baked goods in to work or any social gathering this side of Remembrance Day. There are always leftovers and they’re always abandoned on a piece of crinkly parchment paper. Bring an empty tin to work and you can fill your table at home because there’s too much of everything. In my case the goodies from other people’s kitchens are better than the ones I make anyway and they come with no fuss or muss.

I think a documentary about a Christmas cookie would do very well at Cannes. A discrete camera crew could follow it from house to house as it’s regifted and finally taken to a social function, or it’s consumed, half-consumed, or chucked after New Years.  And what if it ended up in the same kitchen it started from? What then?

It’s a question I’ll contemplate as I rewrap a Donald Trump scented candle.

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