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The Unwanted Gift

Hi EH! My submission is a question about gift-giving and receiving. I received a gift from a family member that I don’t want: a gift certificate for a service I’m not interested in (short-term gym membership). Although I appreciate the effort of giving me a gift, I don’t know what to do with it. I can’t return it to a store. I’ve asked around among my acquaintance and no one wants it. Do I deep-six it? Bean dip when asked about it? This particular gift also raised some issues with me because I perceived it in a way that the giver probably didn’t think about – as an insult (as did all of my female friends when polled for their opinion). I’m fat and out-of-shape, and I felt that this relative was trying to push me into getting in shape in a way that doesn’t interest me. (She did not sound me out about it before purchasing the gift.) I don’t like gyms, don’t like exercising around other people, don’t like changing clothes in front of strangers. I enjoy other forms of exercise such as swimming, walking and bike riding. So, what would you do with this gift? And what can I say if the relative gives me another one of the same type or some other service I don’t want? She’s given me similar things in the past – like a certificate for a makeover, which I also did not want. I should also point out that this person is not very sensitive to others’ feelings, but gets her own feelings hurt extremely easily, which is why I’m asking for advice. It’s been bothering me for a while. 1217-13

Your obligation as the gift recipient is to express sincere gratitude for the gift…at least the thought that went into the gift.   What you actually do with that gift is none of the giver’s business.   Can you sell it on Craigslist or some other similar online classifieds?   You are quite free to toss into the trash if you want.

{ 51 comments… add one }
  • BMS February 4, 2014, 11:47 am

    This brought back so many memories that now make me laugh.

    I was, and still am, a total geeky tomboy. I’m 42 and still have no idea how to put on makeup, I have two hairstyles (bun and ponytail), and accessories mystify me. Over the years when I was in middle/high school various relatives gifted me with:
    -Curling irons (I have naturally curly hair, not sure what I was supposed to do – curl it even more?)
    -Perfume (Once Christmas I got literally 9 different bottles of perfume from various relatives)
    -Makeup brushes
    and other very girly things that don’t come with a manual. I received them graciously, as I had been taught, but at the time I remember thinking: Hi! Do you remember me? Your cousin? The one whose pride and joy is a microscope? Whose idea of an awesome summer experience is tramping through the mud at scout camp? The one who spent the summer at a national lab doing incredibly geeky science things? The one who you have probably never, ever seen wear makeup outside of a family wedding? It was like they were buying presents for someone they wanted me to be, or thought that every girl should be at that age. Fortunately, I had a sense of humor about it, but I could see other people getting offended that they had spent no time understanding what I actually found useful/interesting.

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