“It’s The Thought That Counts”

by admin on November 17, 2014

I was having a nice chat with a friend on the phone the other day. We don’t know each other very well, but see each other at parties maybe twice a year, and I really like her. Out of nowhere she said, “Do you have a teapot in the shape of a bird?” (she knows I’m a keen bird watcher).

I replied, “No I haven’t”, but I really wanted to add, “..and I wouldn’t want one. I hate that kind of thing!” But of course I didn’t. She sounded delighted and excited with my response, and said, “Ah, then wait till the next time I see you!”.

I’m sure you can see what’s coming. She’s been to a charity shop and found a cheap novelty teapot in the shape of a bird, remembered I like birds and bought it for me. Unfortunately I hate novelty nik-nacks of all kinds. I know some people love them, but I won’t have them in the house. I realize I sound ungrateful, but when she next comes round I’ll have to pretend to be delighted with the gift, so that she’ll be happy she bought it for me, then keep it for a couple of years in case she asks where it is, all the time hating the darned thing and resenting having to look after it.

This isn’t an unusual situation, I know. How could I have politely let her know on the phone that I don’t want this gift? And now how can I receive the gift in a way that let’s her know I like her, and appreciate the thought, but without opening the flood gates to more?

Any advice, gratefully received. 1103-14

I think you are missing the hidden jewel of your dilemma and are focusing on making a mountain from an ant hill.   There are lonely people in this world who would be thrilled that someone, anyone, would have been thinking of them in the midst of their daily life and then taken the extraordinary step of buying a gift the giver felt would be appreciated.  There is not one hint of malice, evil, selfishness or unkindness in what your friend has done that deserves your dread and hatred of the gift.

It may be a cliche to say that “it is the thought that counts” but you would do well to ponder this more fully.   From my perspective, you are entirely viewing this as to how it inconveniences you and focusing on the material.  As I get older, I have become less enamored with material possessions and more appreciative of acts of thoughtfulness and kindness from people.  But there are material possessions that are so intertwined with someone’s thoughtfulness and kindness that I cannot bear to part with them.  As I type I am looking at a small glass rose sitting right under my monitor.  I hate glass work and would never buy it for myself but someone dear gave that to me and every time I see it, I see love.

You can pitch the teapot in the trash as that is your prerogative as the gift recipient but I would suggest examining the potential of deepening this friendship with this person who thinks of you when she’s out shopping.  I read a lot of submitted stories to Ehell from lonely, sad people who cannot seem to find someone worthy of friendship and here you are with someone practically in your lap and you want advice on how to rid yourself of this problem.  There is no polite way to tell someone you do not want their gifts of thoughtfulness.

{ 169 comments… read them below or add one }

Powers November 17, 2014 at 10:01 am

Arguably, it’s not very thoughtful to get someone a gift without consideration of whether it suits their lifestyle or decor preferences first.

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Vrinda November 17, 2014 at 12:42 pm

But the friend did not know that the OP didn’t like such items. The OP didn’t tell her.

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Powers November 18, 2014 at 9:35 am

A thoughtful person would take that into consideration.

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Calli Arcale November 17, 2014 at 12:43 pm

But she did put thought and consideration into that — she knew OP likes birds, so a bird-shaped teapot seemed appropriate to her. That just didn’t cause her to hit the gift-giving target right. Not everybody is in the same frame of mind regarding kitsch, and may not even dream that someone else might not enjoy it. This isn’t for lack of trying; it’s usually just they have a sort of mental blind spot when it comes to picking out gifts. Sort of like how some people genuinely think spots are great with stripes.

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Powers November 18, 2014 at 9:37 am

While true, I don’t see how that absolves a gift-giver of responsibility to be cautious when gifting home decor. Indeed, not everybody /is/ in the same frame of mind regarding kitsch; just as we expect the letter-writer to understand that some people enjoy it, we should expect the gift-giver to understand that some people don’t.

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Kat November 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Every time you buy someone a gift, unless it’s something they’ve explicitly asked for, you’re taking a chance that they may not like it. Unless we’re entirely doing away with surprise presents, it has to be okay to take a chance sometimes.

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Dee November 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I agree. I have known people who shower me and my family with junk but it’s not because they’re thinking of us, they’re just fulfilling their desire to shop without having to put up with the junk in their own house. Having said that, I also have friends who admit that this is their tendency, to buy for others on a whim, but they do it with the caveat that if it is not particularly useful for the recipient they are free to say so and gently decline the gift, absolutely no hard feelings. Ultimately, I think the relationship should influence the feelings regarding a gift. A good relationship allows for a lot of leeway in many areas; a poor relationship does not allow for a lot of give.

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clairedelune November 18, 2014 at 8:40 pm

She probably did take it into consideration, she just got it wrong. Taking something into consideration isn’t a guarantee of infallibility.

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Betty November 17, 2014 at 10:20 am

I don’t understand why the OP couldn’t say, “No, I don’t have a teapot in the shape of a bird. I don’t like knick knacks very much. But how nice you remembered I like bird watching!”or some other addition to make it clear that the OP didn’t WANT a teapot in the shape of a bird.

Once the gift is given, the receiver should be gracious, of course. But in this case, the OP was given the opportunity to say something up front: why wouldn’t it be ok to say something at that time?

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JS November 17, 2014 at 11:45 am

Agreed – that’s how you head this off, OP.

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gramma dishes November 17, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Actually she wasn’t. I got the impression that the friend had seen the teapot, immediately thought of the OP and bought it for her anticipating that OP would love it. Once the purchase has already been made with such eager anticipation of the joy of giving it to OP, it would be downright cruel to say “Oh, I do like birds, but I absolutely hate stupid cluttery junk like bird shaped teapots.”

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Anonymous November 18, 2014 at 12:55 am

But Gramma Dishes, did you get the impression that the teapot had already been purchased from reading this story, or do you think the OP knew at the time, during the phone conversation, that it was a fait accompli? If it’s the latter, it’s harder, and I can see the OP thinking, “Well, a teapot is a useful item, even if it is shaped like a bird,” but then the actual teapot wasn’t to her taste. If the OP didn’t get the sense that her friend had already bought the teapot, she could have said she didn’t want *a* bird teapot, because at that point, in her mind, it would have still been hypothetical, and she wouldn’t have been rejecting *the* bird teapot from her friend.

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gramma dishes November 18, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Yes, I was thinking the teapot had already been purchased and that the friend was really excited about the idea of giving it to the OP. If it hadn’t been and OP’s friend was just checking before she went back to the store and purchased it then my response is not appropriate.

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flora November 18, 2014 at 5:52 am

I don’t agree… though I’d phrase it differently. I think the op would be well within the bounds of ettiquette to say “No, I don’t usually care for that sort of thing.”

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Margo November 18, 2014 at 9:01 am

I think that when she asked the question, you’d have been fine to say “No, it’s not really my type of thing”

Of course, if she actually gives it to you it is polite to accept graciously and thank her for her thoughtfulness, but at the point when the question is ‘do you have x’ then it’s absolutely fine to say that you haven’t because it’s not something you want.

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Betty November 18, 2014 at 8:54 am

I didn’t get the impression that the teapot had already been purchased: if it had been, why did the friend ask “Do you have a teapot in the shape of a bird?”

What if the answer was “Yes” and OP already had a teapot in the shape of a bird (a bird-pot? Teabird?)? Presumably her friend wouldn’t have given her another one (or the friend wouldn’t have asked the question).

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sylviatexas November 17, 2014 at 10:42 am

‘There are lonely people in this world who would be thrilled that someone, anyone, would have been thinking of them in the midst of their daily life and then taken the extraordinary step of buying a gift ‘
Amen.

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remi November 17, 2014 at 1:24 pm

I don’t know, that argument is too much like the much-reviled “There are starving children in Africa” admonishment children get when they don’t want to eat something. Pointing out that some people have it worse than you (without doing anything to actually help those people aside from co-opting their existence as a judgmental life lesson) has always struck me as very sanctimonious and not actually very helpful. There will be children starving whether or not you finish your mashed potatoes, and there will be people who are lonely whether or not your friends think about you. It’s an unnecessary addition to otherwise good advice to accept a poorly-chosen but well-meant gift graciously. LW, at this point there’s no real way to refuse this gift without being rude, so you are best off remembering that it is less an ugly teapot and more a gesture of affection. Though in future, when you are having conversations that look like they are steering towards similar gifts, there is nothing rude about saying “No, I don’t own one of those, it’s not really my style” before the gift is brought up. At that point it’s just a conversation about novelty teapots or the like, after all.

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Goldie November 17, 2014 at 3:33 pm

” There will be children starving whether or not you finish your mashed potatoes, and there will be people who are lonely whether or not your friends think about you.”

This is all true, but, unlike mashed potatoes that will always be around, if a person blows off his or her potential friends over small disagreements (speaking in the abstract now, not about this specific OP), then one day this person will join the ranks of the lonely, simply because he, or she, has already gone through their whole supply of people that were interested in being friends, and drove them all away. And who would want this for themselves?

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Anonymous November 17, 2014 at 8:00 pm

That’s why the overall message needs to be “No to the bird teapot, yes to our friendship.” So, you say that a bird teapot isn’t really your style, and move on to another, positive topic of conversation. An invitation to meet up would probably be best, because it shows that, even if you don’t want the teapot, you do want to spend time with your friend. If that’s not possible (like, if you’re sick, or booked every day and night for the next month), then just friendly talk about anything else would be fine.

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Wendy B. November 17, 2014 at 11:02 am

I agree with Admin totally.

This is what you do. Thank her profusely for thinking of you. Tell her you appreciate that she saw it and immediately thought of you. Etc. You don’t have to say how much you like it…I’ve found thanking people for being thoughtful is just as appreciated. Take it home. Find a place for it for a while, until she has visited and seen it once or twice, then do with it what you like. If she asks (and she may not!) where it went, by then you will hopefully have become good enough friends that you can either be vague (bean dip), or even direct. But whatever you do, DON’T kill the friendship over a little misstep!

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Marozia November 18, 2014 at 1:23 am

I agree with you. A friendship is more important. Don’t end it over a teapot.
Keep the pot. Keep it hidden away if you need to. Maybe even use it when your friend comes over for some tea. It is the thought that counts. After all, OP, you never told her about how you hated knick-knacks!

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Shoegal November 17, 2014 at 11:14 am

Sorry to say but Admin is right. There is absolutely no polite way to say you don’t want the gift – accept it graciously. Focus on the thought – it is what matters. But I have to say something on the subject because it is one I have thought of often. I think the general rule in gift giving is that you don’t gift home decor items to anyone unless you know 100% that the recipient wants it and likes it. I feel the OP’s pain. I have been on the other side and have many home decor items that I did not want. There is a problem here. I suffer because I feel that I am forced to display something that I don’t like for fear of injuring the giver. But it is my home and I carefully select what I put in there – it is my favorite place to be in the world. Why should I be forced to repeatedly look at something just because the giver might happen to drop by? I am also forced to lie about how I feel about it. I do LOVE and appreciate the gesture and the thought behind it but somethings it won’t morph the object into something that I love and want to look at.

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Kirst November 17, 2014 at 1:38 pm

You don’t have to look at it, you can put it in a cupboard and forget about it.

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Girlie November 17, 2014 at 2:35 pm

I know the feeling. My MIL bought us this HUGE horse head once. She insisted that my little SIL REALLY wanted to give it to us. But, as a mother, I think she should’ve said “no, that’s not appropriate because we don’t know if they’ll like it or if it’ll fit in with their decor- pick a candle instead (or something)”. In this instance, she still had not visited our new house and didn’t even know what the decor was like. Sometimes I feel like she did it on purpose to see if I display it anywhere.. ugh…

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Jaxsue November 18, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Girlie, I’m picturing the scene from The Godfather movie. 🙂

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NostalgicGal November 21, 2014 at 12:38 am

There’s a home décor dilemma site; and someone had a deer head; rather large set of antlers; and their better half had bagged it and had it mounted. It WOULD be displayed in their house. She was advised then to make it part of the kitsch décor… installed at where a hallway hit a tee (from their entry) and put a small table under it. Then change the stuff sitting on the table for the season, and decorate the deerhead with nothing that would damage it. For Christmas the antlers held ornaments, a string of lights and the fellow got a big fat sassy bowtie of goldish ribbon… and at least one holiday a month was easily come up with and what to decorate it with suggested. After about 18 months, the fellow decided to move it to his private study… none the worse for wear, just lacking dignity after wearing glitter shamrocks and a small leprechaun’s hat…

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o_gal November 17, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Feel free to dispose of the home décor items. They were a gift, they are yours to do with as you wish, after you have sincerely thanked the gift giver. And if the gift giver should not make any mention if they visit and find that you no longer have them on display. To do so would be rude on their part. Just don’t say anything about them on the next visit, just go on with life as normal.

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NostalgicGal November 17, 2014 at 11:17 am

Wait a few years yes, or take it to another city and donate it to a thrift store.

If they inquire about what happened to the teapot, just do a regretful but you were clumsy, bit. Then brightly show them your replacement for it (any teapot you have and treasure) and go over the virtues of the new or “new” pot. As in keep it light, bright, and yes you’re grateful for their thought and their gift (and hopefully trim any more bird teapot gifts).

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Lisa H. November 17, 2014 at 11:22 am

Gee OP, you must be a delight to be around come birthdays and holidays!!

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Cat November 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm

The poster child for gift cards is my guess.

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gbeatty November 17, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Ah, yes “gift cards” — all the thoughtlessness of giving cash – only less convenient 🙂

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Anonymous November 18, 2014 at 12:57 am

Not necessarily. If someone gives me cash as a gift, I appreciate it, but I spend it on boring incidentals–socks, toothpaste, shampoo, transportation, etc. I tell myself I’ll use part of it to buy myself something nice, but I rarely actually do this. If someone gives me a gift card to a store I like, that gives me “permission” to buy something fun instead.

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Lacey November 19, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I completely agree. I spend cash on paying bills and gift cards on treats. I don’t think a gift card for a store or activity you know someone likes is thoughtless at all.

Yet Another Laura November 18, 2014 at 10:16 am

Cash gifts were a godsend when I was unemployed and struggling. The most thoughtful gift anyone could give me back then was the means to pay my utilities.

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Anonymous November 18, 2014 at 3:05 pm

That’s true. I’m not unemployed; just stuck in “part-time limbo,” but I like a mix of both. Cash gifts are good for boring incidentals, and gift cards (or physical gifts) are good, because it’s like, “I wanted this, but I wouldn’t have bought it for myself, because there’s no room in the budget after buying everything I need.”

Specky November 18, 2014 at 11:17 am

I would much rather receive a gift card than some item I neither want or need, no matter how carefully chosen. At least with a gift card (or cash), it can be used for something useful, wanted and needed. Mundane groceries are a wanted and needed thing around here. I value being able to choose for myself.

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Jaxsue November 18, 2014 at 12:50 pm

I love gift cards. Whether it’s Amazon or Yankee Candle, I truly enjoy it. I can splurge and buy something I really want. I don’t see that as “thoughtless” at all; what has happened to gratefulness?

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o_gal November 17, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Wow, that was uncalled for. The OP asked for advice on how to politely turn down the gift, not criticism of her inward thoughts that it appears that she would never expose to the gift giver.

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Cat November 18, 2014 at 7:22 pm

I think it was the bit about her,”…hating the darned thing and resenting having to look at it” that seemed over-the-top. It’s a teapot. Investing that kind of emotion in a teapot that she did not want would make me feel it’s best to avoid giving her any gift beyond a gift card.

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RC November 17, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Agreed

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Sad November 17, 2014 at 11:23 am

I agree with the Admin. I’d love to get a gift that showed someone was thinking of me. I’d display it proudly.

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Library Diva November 17, 2014 at 11:28 am

I agree with admin. OP, try harder to appreciate the sentiment behind the gift. I have a few things like this that are not my taste but symbolize a relationship. I also agree with admin that you should try deepening this friendship, as it sounds like there’s a lot of love on both sides. Once you get to know this woman better, the problem will most likely solve itself. She’ll realize you’re not a “stuff” person the moment she visits your spartan home, or spends an afternoon at a mall or craft bazaar with you when you buy nothing.

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A different Tracy November 17, 2014 at 11:42 am

I’m torn. On the one hand, I agree with Admin that it’s lovely for someone to be thinking of you, to the point that they spontaneously buy you a gift. On the other hand, it makes me uncomfortable when other people try to decorate my home, and for someone who I only see twice a year, and has seen that I don’t display such knicknacks (the OP says the “next time” the friend comes to her house, so she’s been there before), to buy me one… it’s a bit odd.

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Lizajane November 17, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Very well said. Some well meaning in laws gave me several gifts on a theme. I liked a FEW things on the theme, authentic items, not every piece of kitsch in a tourist shop. I wound up with a lot of clutter. I can clutter my own house, thankyouverymuch.

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clairedelune November 17, 2014 at 8:26 pm

She’s not trying to decorate her home any more than someone who gives you a basket of fruit is trying to force-feed you. It’s just a gift, not an encroachment.

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A different Tracy November 18, 2014 at 9:58 am

If someone gives me something decorative for my home, how are they NOT trying to decorate it?

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clairedelune November 18, 2014 at 1:12 pm

It’s a matter of intent. Saying that someone is “trying to decorate your home” assumes some attempt to seize control of your private privilege to do what you want with your living space. Instead, it seems that what she’s doing is giving OP something that she (wrongly) thinks OP might want to use in her decorating. She’s not dictating terms, she’s just giving her something to do with as she wishes.

By that definition (“try to decorate my home”) ANY gift could be construed as a means of exerting control over the recipient, if you’re inclined to assume the worst of every kind act. A gift of a handbag could be “telling me how to dress,” a gift of cookies could be “trying to make me fat,” a scented candle could be “trying to tell me what I’m supposed to like to smell.” But gifts are generally understood to be a way for the giver to express kindness or generosity or some special thought about the recipient. Not every gift is going to hit it out of the park, but we’re supposed to assume the best by default. Unless we have an actual reason to think otherwise.

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RoseTyler November 20, 2014 at 3:00 pm

In my opinion, for the same reason someone who gifts you with a shirt is not trying to tell you how to dress, with a book is not trying to dictate how you spend your time, or with a gift card to a certain store is not attempting to change where you shop. For me and I believe for most, giving a gift is as simple as seeing something and thinking someone will like it; no usurpation of personal power intended.

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NostalgicGal November 21, 2014 at 12:46 am

This is not @RoseTyler, just in the string after the last few comments…

Unless you know they are allergic or otherwise hate or can’t eat it; gift chocolate. Decent chocolate. (though for me one peanutbutter cup usually hits it just fine even though I’m not supposed to!) My universal go-to gift.

Double You November 17, 2014 at 11:43 am

We have a couple of mugs in our kitchen cupboard that – objectively – I can only describe as hideous.
Yet every once in a while I will take them out and enjoy drinking a cup of tea from them, for they were a present from a dear old family friend.

If I were the OP, I’d gracefully accept the teapot, put it somewhere out of sight, but use it to make tea when the friend in question comes over for a visit.

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kit November 18, 2014 at 7:49 am

I agree. No sense in keeping out something you don’t actually like for your everyday use when only you – the person who doesn’t like it- sees it. Take it out when that friend visits you. And you can always say you keep it only for special occasions like that! 😀

As an aside, I do dislike thoughtless gifts myself. My mother keeps me giving for Christmas a certain type of calendar because, as she once said, she likes it so much. She has never asked if I like cutesy calendars or if we indeed use them (which we don’t).

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Jinx November 17, 2014 at 11:44 am

I’m very grateful for this story.

I’m willing to admit I have been in a similar position and unappreciative of the thought and effort of a gift I hate. I’ve grown a lot as I come into adulthood, but it’s always good for me to have this reminder to keep that part of me at bay in favour of the part of me that’s more generous and loving. It may sound crazy, but sometimes I do have to think about it. Thank you for sharing your story.

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Hollyhock November 17, 2014 at 11:46 am

I agree with the admin, there is no polite way to refuse such a thoughtful and kind gesture. Sometimes we have to grit our teeth and accept people’s faux pas.

Like you I am a control freak about knickknacks — yet my living room window recently was graced with an 18×24 depiction of our lakeside cabin done by gluing pieces of broken glass to a clear glass background within a vintage wooden window frame. It is amateurish in the extreme, garish and frankly I cringe looking at it and wondering what the neighbors think of my taste; it is one step up from the proverbial “illustration on black velvet” type of home decor. However it was lovingly made by a friend who was on a mania with her newfound craft of mosaic-making (“I was so excited to surprise you guys I did it in a weekend” — yes, it shows) and who also has helped been a much-enjoyed guest of ours at said cottage. So what are we going to do? She’s over too often to whisk it in and out of the foyer closet as need be; I just try to think of her 30 years of thoughtful friendship when I look at it instead of the ugly greens and browns she chose for the trees and grass.

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RC November 17, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Oh Hollyhock, that sounds awful (and gave me a giggle). You are a lovely friend and a kind-hearted for keeping it on display, and for recognising the love that goes into a handcrafted gift (no matter how ugly it may be). Applause for you!

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Michelle November 17, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Oh, gosh, it must be hard not to accidentally drop it. Any chance you can stash it in another window or room any time in the future?

It sounds like she was trying to be thoughtful, although it is hard sometimes to have to look at something you pretty much loathe everyday. I’ve had to suck it up and gush over presents that I didn’t care for. It’s what you do for friends. 🙂

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Lizajane November 17, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Take it to the cabin?

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hakayama November 17, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Don’t you wish your friend had made a teapot? 😉

You could look into paints made for glass, and improve the colors a bit. Gradually.
Call it “modern primitive” and you can lead the Kitsch Parade.

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frost November 18, 2014 at 3:48 am

Perhaps you could start changing your art out seasonally, and when she asks where it went, you can reply, “Oh, we’ve got so many lovely pieces of art, and not enough wall space to display it all at once!”

Otherwise, as another poster suggested, let it have a place of honor at the cabin.

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Hollyhock November 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm

She intended it for the cabin but the size she chose would really dominate any room there (this is a small 1930 bungalow, built to a more modest scale than today’s dwellings, and the window coverings are blinds that would make it hard to install) so it was I who suggested we could “enjoy it year-round at home” figuring it could go in the guest room. But she arrived with it armed with a cordless drill, hanging hardware and the determination to let it get the southern light from the LR window. What could we say? 🙂

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RC November 18, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Haha I love your story. You are such a lovely friend!

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hakayama November 18, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Now that’s one heck of a pushy broad. She really wanted to decorate your home, no ifs, ands or buts about it. I wonder what else she’s got planned for your future.
As a past first lady suggested regarding offerings of drugs, “Just say NO.” Perhaps you could have said “Absolutely no, no, no! We will install it. Right now, let’s have some tea brewed in a horse head shaped pot.”
So sorry you were ambushed… However, now you could invoke Feng Shui principles that compel the piece be moved to the guest room.

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NostalgicGal November 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

That sounds like the lovely thing to move to the lower pane of the window of the guest bathroom. Gives privacy and installed more permanently than hanger hardware; and if she seems disappointed, tell her that you did enjoy it out front but here it is all the more lovely… and try to install it as a design feature of that bathroom (coordinate SOMETHING with it). Good luck.

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Harley Granny November 17, 2014 at 12:05 pm

I’ve had many a gift given to me that either never made it home with me or was put in the charity box as soon as I got home. Each gift was received graciously and I’m touched that they thought of me.

Should you run across this situation again, you could head it off at the pass and say something like “No I don’t have one of those….I’ve never been a knick knack kind of person.”

It sounds to me that you both don’t want what she’s giving you in the house but you also don’t want to hurt her feelings. Accept it and give it away when she’s not around.

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just4kicks November 17, 2014 at 12:14 pm

I am by NO means a perfect woman, etiquette or otherwise, but I think it’s very rude and ungracious to be so mean to a friend who has obviously put ALOT of thought into getting a gift for you. Why on earth would you even think of telling this person you don’t want her gift? Okay…So a bird shaped tea kettle isn’t your cup of tea (pun intended) but it’s a lovely thought from someone who knows you like birds. If you really can’t stand to look at it every day, invite her over for tea, and make it in her kettle. She would probably be thrilled. Then, put it away until next time she visits.

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Anonymous November 17, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Honestly, I would (nicely) have cut this woman off at the pass:

FRIEND: “Do you have a teapot that looks like a bird?”

OP: “No, I’m not really into knick-knacks. Hey, do you want to go bird-watching tomorrow?”

That way, it’s not rude, because you don’t technically “know” that the friend plans to give you a bird teapot, because she didn’t say so outright. Failing that, is this actually a functional teapot, or is it just meant to be decorative? If it’s functional, then hey, free teapot. If it’s just meant to be decorative, it could become a planter or something. If it’s really ugly, it could be put away, or “lost” or “broken.” I have a similar story: My mom’s always been really into flowers, but only real ones, not fake. When I was growing up, someone gave her a fake flower arrangement, designed to look like flowers in a spherical vase of water, but it was more like a big, heavy ball of glass with fake flowers sticking out of it. She graciously thanked the giver, and then, a few days later, she put the flower arrangement on top of the fridge for some reason. Unfortunately, she put it too close to the freezer door. I opened the freezer, and the flower arrangement fell on the floor, and the glass part smashed to pieces. Later, while my mom was talking on the phone with the giver, she said, “Oh, it’s such a shame, my clumsy klutz of a daughter accidentally broke the flower arrangement you gave me.” After she got off the phone, she actually thanked me for breaking it, because she thought it was ugly. We swept up the glass and had a good laugh about it, and as far as I know, I don’t think anyone’s ever attempted to give my mom fake flowers since then.

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Michelle November 17, 2014 at 3:58 pm

My boss gives me fake flowers every year for my birthday. The first year, they were actually kind of cool- the vase was filled with pebbles and the flowers were made from 3 kinds of material, with wooden stalks. I must have been too enthusiastic because he has given me flowers that have gotten uglier every year since. I thank him, display them for a few days and take them home. Then I donate them, hoping someone will like them and give them a good home.

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Green123 November 18, 2014 at 5:29 am

I like cats (real ones – the cuddly, furry, purry kind), and my previous boss knew this. So every year for Christmas and birthdays I got a mug with a cat on, usually a truly hideous mug with a truly hideous cat on. I don’t drink tea or coffee or other hot drinks (my boss also knew this) so every year I graciously accepted the mugs and donated them to a local charity shop.

I must admit that when my boss retired last year and was replaced by a man who bought a small box of chocolates to be shared by the whole office on Christmas Eve, I kind of missed the yukky cat mugs.

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hakayama November 18, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Nothing like a skinflint that thinks he’s being magnanimous, eh? SMALL box yet… I guess you did not really get to choose between a man with dubious taste and a tight fist.

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Toni LaClair November 17, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Years ago my mother gave us two glass swans, filled with colored water. It sat on a mirror and had plastic spread out over the top to look like waves. It was so hideous I didn’t even know what to say. So I put it in a place of honor in the living room. Until…unfortunately, her 18-month old beloved grandson tossed a ball at it and broke it. Problem: solved.

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crella November 18, 2014 at 6:42 pm

My mother had those! I had completely forgotten about them, thank you for the little trip down memory lane 🙂 My mother’s were on her dresser, and they met a similar fate.

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NostalgicGal November 18, 2014 at 11:10 pm

My mom had actually admired these things so yes I bought her a set at the county fair one year. I dutifully also made up the dye, went through the yeckky process to fill them and arranged them where she wanted them. Whatever the dye was they provided, they gave you two tablets (2 fills) and it stained MASSIVELY. I had mixed it in a glass bowl and it took awhile to get that OFF, and her stainless kitchen sink took bleaching to erase that (older sink and enough life wear that it stuck to the surface). Then if you didn’t top them off every few days (or daily in dry winter heat in house) the stuff would glug out of the heads and you would have to go through refilling them totally. I went to using food color as at least that came off stuff; and one day mom dumped them, packed them up and I never seen them again….

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Mer November 18, 2014 at 2:54 am

Rude or not, it still totally kills the joy for the friend. I mean, the friend is near boiling with exitement of giving (general)you something she thinks you will love, and what she has picked based of you love of birds. And what she is hoping to be an expression that she is thinking of you. And then with the handful of words you would be ruining all that. Yes, you are not rude, but that does not mean it is a friendly act. More likely it is act that only causes bad feelings to your friend. I mean, now she cannot anymore use the thing to express how she was thinking of you, she will have to backpedal and she probably will be too ashamed to confess that she already bought that item for you. And *dramatical pause* now the item that was meant to be an expression of her love to you will be a reminder for her that she “does not know you” or judged you totally wrong when she picked an item she thought would make you happy.

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kit November 18, 2014 at 7:57 am

And *another dramatic pause* it so horrible to learn to know your friend better, isn’t it?

I wouldn’t think she had already bought it. I would think she was in the shop looking at it. At least that’s what my relatives (and myself) do when out shopping and spotting something we think another would like. What’s the sense of asking when you have already bought it?

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Devin November 18, 2014 at 9:42 am

Just playing devils advocate, but what if the OP did already have a bird teapot? Her saying, “Oh I do have one, and its the only teapot I ever use” would create this same awkwardness. I think an honest answer is always the best.

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Hollyhock November 18, 2014 at 2:52 pm

I agree with Mer. It’s possible to be technically polite but still thoughtless. Why kill your friend’s buzz — is there no little recess in the back of a cupboard that could harbor the teapot for a year or so?

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JD November 17, 2014 at 12:21 pm

I have to say I’m in OP’s corner. I don’t think she is ignoring the kindness in the thought — she just hates the gift and wants to know how to forestall any others that she would hate. I can see this new friend combing thrift stores for more bird shaped items to give her….. I don’t keep or display gifts just because they are gifts. I thank the person as though I were delighted (which I AM delighted to be thought about), but the item eventually just…disappears somehow. I may say I dropped it — and you can drop it, if you hate to lie; no one will ask if you dropped it on purpose — or say it is lost or got damaged. But when I CAN, I head them off at the pass, very nicely. Such as, when asked if I have a bird teapot, I would say, “No, I don’t have one of those…. I’m not much of a teapot person, but it sounds sweet,” or “No, I don’t have one — I already have too much stuff now to collect more things, and have had to swear off, no matter how cute the thing is.” Of course I’m happy that someone wants to give me a gift, and of course I appreciate it, but the idea that I’m forced to keep something because it is a gift is never going to play well with me. I’d be drowning in stuff by now if I kept it all. I’ve never, ever had anyone say they were hurt or act offended at this, either, because I’m extremely careful to guard their feelings.
Miss Manners always admonished givers to remember that their gift may miss the mark, and to say nothing if they notice it has disappeared from the recipients house. I agree with that.

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Goldie November 17, 2014 at 12:22 pm

I lost so many friends over the past few years, first as a result of my divorce, then because of my new relationship, then because the relationship ended. I made new friends during those years and lost them all too. This all came to a head about a year ago; since then I tried to reconnect with my old friends, or make new ones, but had very limited success this time around. (Guess that makes me one of the lonely, sad people – oh well, at least now I know there’s a group that I belong to!) If I had a friend that I really like who had thought of me when out shopping and got a gift specifically for me, I’d be so happy. Agree with everyone else who advises to accept the gift and thank the giver for having thought of you. And you don’t have to have it on display all day, every day. After all, it’s a teapot. Rarely have I seen teapots displayed on mantelpieces and bookshelves with the other knick-knacks. Plus, you said you only see this woman a few times a year at parties, so it’s not like she’ll pay you a surprise visit and get offended when she doesn’t see the teapot on display.

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Tyler November 17, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Put yourself in the mindset of the gift-giver and think how you would feel. Several years ago, I gave Christmas gifts to two of my friends. They weren’t super expensive or fancy, but I did select them believing that the recipients would like them. One of my friends returned her gift to me, telling me that she didn’t like it. The other one threw hers away and even felt the need to inform me of this, telling me that she had no use for it. I tried not to take the matter personally, but I felt severely stung, as they were essentially sending me the message that they did not appreciate what I believed to be a kind gesture. Once a gift has been given to you, you are entitled to do whatever you wish with it, but at least be thoughtful about whatever you do.

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Michelle November 17, 2014 at 4:01 pm

That was pretty mean and nasty.

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kingsrings November 17, 2014 at 6:34 pm

I had that done once to me, too. I spent a lot of time picking out the perfect gift for a close friend of mine only to have her express obvious displeasure with it upon receipt. I have no idea what she did with it afterwards. I wish there had been a way I could have gotten it back since it was so beautiful. And she had done the same thing with some gifts given to her by others. It really hurt my feelings and I made sure to not ever gift her again.

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hakayama November 17, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Have you considered gradually, but definitely and finally, inching away from those people? At least relegate them to the status of acquaintances. Casual, distant acquaintances.
They do sound absolutely boorish and inconsiderate. Not to overlook the wasteful aspect of just throwing something out.
You say that you tried not to take their rejection personally… That continues to show a generous spirit. However, the actual ATTACK on you was very personal. Those simpletons (I’m trying to be objective here) had time to think about what to say to you, and they chose the truth. Painful truth. Truth that did not have to be told.
They could simply have thanked you briefly, and gone on to do what they did without reporting it to you. Their actually telling you about it, points to their intention of “rubbing your nose in it”…

“Mejor solo/a que mal acompanado/a”* is a great bit of wisdom contained in an old Spanish proverb. “Better alone than in wrong company” is indeed a good guideline for most, if not all, interpersonal relations.

*I cannot get the right symbol for an “n” with a squiggle. 😉

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NostalgicGal November 18, 2014 at 1:19 am

I have eclectic friends. I have been a contract artist that worked in several mediums and my forte was the custom item. You wanted it, I made it. One particular friend, for the holiday, I crafted a very unique crocheted hat, three dimensional; and it was crochet the hat then crochet the decorative parts, then attach. I had spent most of a week on creating everything, and was ready to assemble; spoke to them (Messenger, so typing) and sort of asked them what they’d like for their holiday gift; and got a rant about they hate crocheted hats (skicap like, this was based on a skicap). Massively hate them. I got off that one, looked at the parts, and assembled anyways, took about half a day. Making the entire bit a solid 40 hours into this. Now what? I finally gifted it to another acquaintance who loved to collect unique headgear, but. At least it didn’t go into the landfill…

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gbeatty November 17, 2014 at 12:22 pm

My mother is forever giving me “decor” items that are not my taste — I display them anyway (even though she rarely visits) – and they are conversation pieces that we laugh over — “Yes, that bunch of green glass grapes that are strangely glued to a piece of driftwood IS beautiful!” “OH, and that little wooden owl with the orange felt nose and beady eyes….” (we ran a string through the ‘hanger’ on the back of the owl and would take turns wearing it proudly after a particularly rough night of drinking — it was known as the “prestigious hoot-owl award” — bestowed upon the person who most elegantly represented the phrase…”drunk as a hoot-owl”… on the prior evening.

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Lizajane November 17, 2014 at 4:29 pm

PLEASE SEND ME THOSE GRAPES!!!!

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Emily November 17, 2014 at 12:37 pm

This is a classic example of the “5 Languages of Love”, an idea which I subscribe to very thoroughly. Basically, it says that each person can be broken down into the 5 different ways that they show love or that they want to receive love. (Look it up– if a couple doesn’t speak each other’s language and isn’t willing to learn to “speak” it, I can tell you right now that they’re doomed!)

Your friend is a gift giver. She shows her affection by purchasing items and giving them to others. I understand your plight, as my SO’s mother is a total gift giver and I feel exactly as you do, but once you understand that it’s just her way of saying she appreciates having you in her life, it should make you feel a little better.

(For the record, I am a “quality time” person– I cherish having my SO around and having good conversations over gifts. I had to learn that my SO is a “touch” person, so when he puts his hand on my knee in the car, instead of just ignoring it, reminding myself it’s his way of saying I love you without saying it out loud.)

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SherlockSara November 17, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Great comment!

I try to remember the 5 languages of love in my classroom as much as I can with my students, some of my kiddos need more time with me, little gifts, or kind words of encouragement… no one is the same!

Your friend clearly is a gift giver who shows she cares by giving you something she thinks you will like. You may not be a person who is totally into gifts, and thats okay too. Just make sure to show you understand she had the best intentions in mind

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Shyla November 17, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Beautifully stated Admin. Many of us are lonely and would love a friend like that. Be gracious.

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Calli Arcale November 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm

I’ve gotten some amazingly tacky gifts over the years from a dear great-aunt who is absolutely terrible at picking out gifts. But it’s just how she is. She means very well, and she tries very hard to get something for everybody. You accept the gift graciously, and then later you can dispose of it discreetly. And perhaps take it as a lesson learned — the next time someone invites you to tell them what you really think of a particular item, do so. 😉 (Politely, though, in case it’s something they really like. Something along the lines of how the art that goes into them is so impressive, but it’s just not your thing.)

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AS November 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I agree with admin.

You are looking at the tea-pot in a wrong way. You are thinking of what a burden it is to you. But think of it as a memoir from a person who cared for you enough that she thought of you when she saw something that has a relationship to your life (bird-shaped teapot in this case).

I have a very close friend of mine who once bought me some candles in a stand from a local charity in our hometown. She gave me saying something in the lines of “you are a nice girl, and I wanted to get something for you from the charity” (my mother and I used to support the charity when we used to live in the town, and my mother even volunteered there every so often – and I think my friend knew that). But the candle stands are not really my “kind” of decoration item. But even after close to a decade of not seeing her, and two trans-continental moves, I still have those candle stands, and still think of her and the good times we had together, whenever I see them.
(NOTE: I am not a hoarder at all).

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NostalgicGal November 18, 2014 at 1:30 am

I have two very cheap white glazed unicorns with gold color horns about 3″ high. Second year of our marriage that is what my DH gave me for a Christmas Present. Last thing in the universe I wanted, but there was a long backstory how he got them and it was the thought that counted. I have them currently tucked in a small wire plant shelf that hangs on the kitchen cupboard side amongst some small pots of plants. I can’t throw them, so they are still around after three plus decades. The other was the small decorator pillows-his family’s church had to throw a fundraiser quickly to pay for the winter heat bill for the church; his mother donated those, the embroidery was ‘she tried, bless her’ and. DH dutifully bought a raffle ticket to support the cause though we lived nowhere near, and… he won those through the raffle draw. Not sure if that was the truth, but they are in a box stored in the closet and have made 11 moves with us. DH agrees they are nothing to be displayed, but by same token, we keep them.

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hakayama November 18, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Congratulations on the “three plus” decades of marriage. Thanks for the drawn in breath, and then a huge laugh. Moving quickly, I misread the size of the unicorns as being 3 feet not 3 inches. Whew!
The pillows? I would definitely have ditched them ASAP. After all, stuff DOES get lost in moves.
I truly can relate to the “she tried” bit, as there are just too many klutzy things produced by “undexterous” clueless adults.

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NostalgicGal November 18, 2014 at 11:17 pm

She was a lovely lady, I really lucked out on the draw for s MIL… they stay. I might write up their story on a recipe card and add that to the shoebox they live in, so when someone’s cleaning out after we go, they know what they are and if some family member wants them, so be it.

I do think that they drew DH’s name for something and decided to give him the pillows as he wasn’t around… rather than he specifically won them. Anyways, that was a while back. Just another one of those things…

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babs November 18, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Great examples AS and NostalgicGal. It reminds me of the lobster dish that was waiting on my coffee table in our new apartment when we got home from our honeymoon. My husband’s mother, sister-in-law and grandmother were taking ceramics (over 40 years ago when this was popular). They thoughtfully “gifted” me with several bad pieces and goofs that nobody wanted. Grandma was particularly bad at ceramics alhough I have many of her beautiful pieces of needlework. The ugly lobster dish didn’t hang around long. Now we see these handmade atrocities in antique stores and my husband says, “See, see, see!” Haha

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NostalgicGal November 18, 2014 at 11:28 pm

A friend that finally got brave enough (one of her aunts is a known watercolor artist!) to take up ceramics about 15 years ago; set up studio, took classes; and was in a funk. She showed me her studio and kilns and everything and sitting on a shelf was this little misshapen fugly pot. It had been a class project, misformed and weirdly textured on purpose, had survived first fire and she glopped a metallic glaze on it she wanted to try. I fell in love with this little lump and begged her for it. Shamelessly begged her for it. Offered to BUY it even. I wanted to put it on the corner of my ‘rustic’ brick hearth at my fireplace. She thought I was lying. She gifted me. I took it home and promptly put it there. That brick was so rough to clean I often didn’t, maybe vacuum it. Anyways months later they drop in and I missed doing the hearth on the quick pass to make house viewable so it had a layer of dust. As did the pot. She walks in, sees the pot and walks over and picks it up. You can see the ring of ‘no dust’ under it, and the layer of flocking on it matches what the brick has. It has been sitting there, not just set out for her visit. That made her cry; I had been honest. It did get her back to doing her pottery, and she does good stuff–and like any artist there is a shelf or two of ‘landfill’… though I found a treasure.

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ketchup November 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm

I don’t understand this question at all. Someone tries to do something nice for you. That’s great! So what if the teapot is not to your liking. Someone appreciated you so much they went and bought something for you, and also; they bought something based on your hobby! It’s a rare thing in my experience to receive a gift outside the standard holidays or birthdays.

If you don’t like the thing, stuff it somewhere in a closet / basement / garage, and only pull it out when they come to visit.

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Cat November 17, 2014 at 1:26 pm

You see this lady twice a year and the biggest problem in your life right now is that she may give you a bird-shaped teapot that, since she does not come to your home, will never know if you keep it, smash it, or put a plant in it and give it to a friend?
Telling someone that you don’t want something doesn’t always stop them. Funny stories: when I was nine years old, my mother asked what I wanted for Christmas. I didn’t have my heart set on anything so she asked what the little girl (a year my junior) next door was getting. She wanted a cultured pearl ring. Mother asked if I wanted something like that. I told her I would want jewelry when I was older, but what would be appropriate at nine would not be what I would want at seventeen. I would rather have something I could play with. You guessed it-she gave me a cultured pearl on a necklace and got mad that I didn’t wear it.
Advance to my sixteenth year. I asked for a gold-colored ID wrist bracelet with my name engraved on it. Mother gave me a child’s ankle ID bracelet that was far too small for me because “the saleslady said that was what I wanted” although I had shown Mother several ID bracelets for the wrist that I would be happy to have and none were ankle bracelets for children. I have no idea of who the saleslady was as I knew no one who worked at that store. Mom was mad again.
I guess that is why gift cards/cash are so popular.

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hakayama November 17, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Oh, Cat… How sad that your Mother apparently never got around to listening to you. Perhaps she did not truly listened to ANYBODY?
I cannot help but think “meditatively” of you and your two families.

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EchoGirl November 17, 2014 at 11:41 pm

I feel like this is the flip side of OP’s situation. It’s one thing to give someone a gift they don’t like, especially if it’s well-intentioned, it’s another to then demand the gift be used a certain way.

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Cat November 18, 2014 at 5:20 am

That’s true. The first example is proof that telling the gift-giver than you don’t want that gift will not deter some folks from giving it to you anyway. “I don’t want a cultured pearl.” “Here’s your cultured pearl.” Some people cannot be stopped.
The second, well, I have never figured that one out.

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NostalgicGal November 18, 2014 at 1:42 am

Better that than legions of baby pink clothes (especially shirts and sweaters)… that I hated that color and it looked atrocious on me but my mom had a massive infatuation with baby pink and forever tried to dress me in it. When I went to college I left all the baby pink stuff (that I never wore) at home – we were almost identically the same size to everything and shared a wardrobe (be 17 and have a wardrobe share with a 40 year old, ‘fail’) and come back for Christmas from college, she hands me yet another baby pink sweater and has the other pink stuff all packed up for me, and I handed it all back (one of the few times I was flat out NOT grateful for the gift-I’d had enough) and told her it was all hers. QUIT BUYING BABY PINK FOR ME I NEVER EVER WEAR IT. No. I wasn’t going to take the sweater because I wasn’t ever going to wear it, and none of that other stuff either. Next Christmas the gift was a baby pink and baby blue horizontally striped sweater, once again handed it right back to her. But it has blue in it…. um it still has BABY PINK in it.

I feel for you, Cat.

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Cat November 18, 2014 at 7:15 pm

I love it. Too bad our mothers did not know one another. I don’t care for pink either.
The other bain of my childhood was my mother’s obsession with Shirley Temple sausage curls, which I hated. I liked long, straight hair and she had to have me in those silly curls at every opportunity.
A daughter is a person, not your personal dress-up doll.

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NostalgicGal November 18, 2014 at 11:48 pm

My mother liked doing my hair up and INSISTED *until I left home* that she do my hair every morning. So I am totally trained into washNwear short hair these years. As a little girl I so hated those grey/black curlers with the prickly innards that look like little bottle brushes stuck in the mesh outer. Sleeping on those was almost impossible. Mom would send me to bed with a bunch of those and bobby pins crossed for spitcurls along the front edge. I would start taking them off when I got to bed and couldn’t sleep so by morning I had a mess and most of the curlers and bobby pins were out and somewhere in the bed. (you don’t do this to four year olds) As for the sausage curls, get the hair wet and the curl goes out (unless it’s permed in). I learned that fast. 🙂

Mom loved to dress little me in all the yards and lace and flounces she could. I have lots of baby and toddler pictures dressed up like a mound of flounces and lace… this survived into me learning to walk (I walked late, about 2, and remember it) then… she bought me ONE pair of hideous pea-green polyester knit slacks with the little crease sewn in on the front (remember that?). No More DRAFTS to go outside to play. That was the ONLY thing I wanted to wear, and knees no longer got skinned at the slightest anything; and I wore those pants out, when they died there was no more dresses. Flouncemonster would go sit in mudpuddles on purpose (I wasn’t yet three) and that was the end of her ‘babydoll’. I was a tomboy and didn’t look back. Cat, our mothers may have been twins separated at birth 🙂

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Yet Another Laura November 19, 2014 at 6:45 am

My mother was just like yours. She liked to think of her daughters as dolls. In eighth-grade, I was allowed – no, make that encouraged – to wear makeup. My classmates were envious. I refused. Not a tomboy, just a rambunctious, active girl who hated dresses and loved mythology. I told people who asked that I wasn’t Medusa and no one would turn to stone if they saw my face as it was. I also have stories of the failed attempt to get me in a kiddie beauty pageant. I was five and had no idea what was going on.

hakayama November 19, 2014 at 9:44 am

Ages ago, I came across a woman like your mothers. She used to “do up” her granddaughter in the fanciest and most non-age appropriate outfits. For instance: black and gold swimsuit for a 5 year old… Rumor has it that she was trying to make sure the child did not “become” lesbian like her aunt (does that show a peek at the mind?).
My own term for the style was “hooker in training”.

NostalgicGal November 19, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Laura, I received a makeup kit in 7th grade for Christmas and started wearing it not long after; a lot of my classmates were also so it wasn’t unusual. I didn’t paint during the summer, and that fall, 8th, is when certain skin issues showed up so that was the end of the makeup. Other than some mornings where I looked like I hit a brick wall head on when I got up (and wasn’t waking up even with lots of caffeine), people have been seeing me au-natural for over four decades. Saved me a LOT of money, time, and actually some years of wear-and-tear aging (I’ll gladly have people think I’m 15-20 years younger!) Amen, still a dress-hater here… heh.

Angel November 17, 2014 at 1:41 pm

I have to agree with the admin here. The fact that this person who you don’t know all that well is thinking about you when she is out shopping and buys you a gift just because–that is incredibly sweet and kind. This friend sounds like a keeper! When she gives you the gift please be gracious–it might not be as bad as you are imagining. Keep it on a high shelf for a few months and then donate it–making sure your friend sees it a few times displayed in your home. I see no harm in that. As you get to know each other better she will realize what your tastes are. Until then, smile and say thank you.

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crebj November 17, 2014 at 1:53 pm

What the Admin said. Surely others have graciously accepted gifts from you that were not quite their taste. It’s a chance to be kind.

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TheCatLady November 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm

I hate knick-knacks as well, but have lots of well-meaning relatives. they never remember that i don’t read romance novels, they mistake my taste for that of my twin sister all the time, they give me religious icons that I can’t display… because it is against my doctrine… you get the idea.

We have a special display case for gifts from relatives, its beautifully carved, with gorgeous glass panels. we display all of our relatives gifts in that case, it is packed to overflowing by now. When it tops out we will get another case for the family room.

I have a name and date marked on every item, and a picture of the giver tucked inside the gift. I hate knick knacks but i love that display case. (the rest of my house is pictures and mirrors… nothing on shelves. i loath dusting) I have everything in there from terrifyingly bad day of the dead masks from my cousin to hand made ornaments from toddlers. I love it all, the memories and the photos of the people that gave it to me at the event they gave it is extraordinarily special.

I used to feel the same way that the OP did, but then my great grandmother passed away, and her life story at her funeral was incredible. She made her way across America in a covered wagon, and flew back to visit her family in an airplane, she was a widow in the 30s and raised three girls on her own, and bought a house by herself. I had selfishly thrown away a trinket from her of a little girl in a blue dress years before, and I realized I had nothing from that amazing woman in my life. I decided right then to not let my personal aesthetic rob me of beautiful memories, and started my cabinet, which came from my Grandmother that passed away 6 months after her mother. You never know what you had until its gone.

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April Damon November 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm

That is a beautiful idea. I too hate dusting and clutter but I believe I will adopt your idea as well. I try to value gifts and pictures for the memories they trigger and your post is a reminder that we should make this a priority in our lives.

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Sarah November 17, 2014 at 7:48 pm

This is an absolutely beautiful idea! I have lots of little things from family that I’ve kept but have had trouble displaying…this sounds like the perfect solution. Thanks for sharing!

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NostalgicGal November 18, 2014 at 1:44 am

[LIKE]<<<<<made my own button

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Anonymous November 18, 2014 at 3:16 pm

It’s a good idea, but what are you going to do when the second cabinet gets filled up?

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TheCatLady November 19, 2014 at 9:19 am

It took 20 years to fill the first one, so I guess we will burn that bridge when we get there!

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Devin November 17, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Stash it in a cupboard or pantry where you normally keep kitchen gadgets. If she visits and inquires about it, I think she’ll quickly see your house doesn’t have knick-knacks laying about and accept that you have it tucked away where it ‘belongs’.

Having some relatives that I am not exceptionally close with, I often receive these types of questions around the holidays as they try to figure out what I might like. If it sounds like something rather garish (stick on flip flops anyone?) I usually laugh and make light of the fact that a company thought to make such novelty item. Regardless, I write a thank-you note and focus on how nice it was to see them for the holidays, bean dipping around the present that I obviously didn’t make use of. I don’t judge because I’m sure some of the presents I’ve given were quickly dispatched to the pantry or basement.

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Michelle November 18, 2014 at 1:04 pm

How exactly does stick on flip flops work? Just adhesive on rubber? How can you use them more than once?

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Devin November 19, 2014 at 1:30 pm

They are basically giant foam stickers….but wait there’s more. You can wash off the adhesive part and it becomes sticky again!!

My relatives love the QVC channel and the ‘As seen on TV’ products. This was one of those items. Sometimes they realize how silly their gifts are, but sometime they are given in earnest.

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Surianne November 17, 2014 at 2:49 pm

I get where the OP is coming from and I don’t think she deserves a guilt trip for preferring to keep her home a certain way. I like knickknacks, but some people find clutter to be stressful, and if I know a friend feels that way, getting her a knickknack wouldn’t be a thoughtful present at all.

I think the OP would have been just fine to use Betty’s phrasing (“No, I don’t have a teapot in the shape of a bird. I don’t like knick knacks very much. But how nice you remembered I like bird watching!”) or something similar. It sounds like this time she was caught off guard, but she can remember that phrasing for future similar questions.

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o_gal November 17, 2014 at 2:56 pm

I either read this somewhere on the net or made it up a number of years ago, but it describes how gifts should be handled.

An Apprentice wanted to show his appreciation to his Master. But being a humble, lowly Apprentice, he didn’t know what he should do. Finally, the idea for the perfect gift came to him. He acquired it, carefully wrapped it to look beautiful, and with much humble begging for forgiveness, presented it to his Master.

The Master was not expecting such a gesture. He bowed to the Apprentice and carefully took the gift into his hands. He admired the wrapping paper, all the while apologizing that he was not worthy of such a beautiful gift. He unwrapped it, bowed again, and said that he was not worthy of such a gift, and that he could not make enough thanks to his Apprentice.

Then the Master turned and put the gift into the fire. And they bowed to each other and walked away, each extraordinarily pleased and happy.

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Lizajane November 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm

I hope it was a piece of coal. Yikes.

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B November 18, 2014 at 4:34 am

Burning a gift in front the giver is NOT how they should be handled, regardless of what this clumsy attempt to take off Eastern wisdom claims.

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hakayama November 18, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Love the story. Endless possible interpretations and potential lessons here. Thanks.

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RC November 17, 2014 at 3:54 pm

100% agree with Admin. OP, you have a kind-hearted and thoughtful friend, and just put the teapot in the cupboard. It won’t hurt you there, I promise.

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Powers November 18, 2014 at 9:33 am

I am amazed at the number of people here who have sufficient space in their kitchen cupboards for a bird-shaped teapot to permanently reside.

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Surianne November 18, 2014 at 11:07 am

Not everyone has a lot of cupboard space in which to store gifts, though. Older homes and small apartments in particular don’t usually have many closets/cupboards. In the tiny house I rent, most of my storage space is taken up by things that are more important to me, like my camping gear and my vacuum.

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babs November 18, 2014 at 9:22 pm

I think the point is, put it away if you don’t want to display it. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a cubbard, hall closet or under the bed.

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Ai November 19, 2014 at 10:44 am

That’s the point I took away from all the comments too. Put it in a cupboard/basement/attic/drawer/etc . It’s a gift. Do whatever you wish with it but please be nice to the gift-giver. Some people are taking things a little too literally.

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burgerking November 17, 2014 at 3:55 pm

the next time she’s over at your house, get out the teapot and serve her some tea. After that you probably can dispose of it anyway you would like. When my mother buys me items that I don’t really like, I always make sure I get them out before she comes over and display them, because I would rather see my mother happy then to see hurt.

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AnaMaria November 17, 2014 at 3:58 pm

I have stopped giving my mom gifts because she never appreciates anything- jewelry just sits on her dresser in it’s original box, books sit on her shelf unread, even gift cards or gift certificates go untouched, even if she shops at the stores they are from. Asking her what she wants is completely unhelpful- she either hems and haws, or names something completely out of my price range. My brother tends to have it worse- he will present her with a gift and she will open it and say immediately, “I wish you had talked to me first; I don’t like this.” Needless to say, we have been very hurt over the years by putting so much thought and spending hard-earned money on birthday, Christmas, and Mother’s Day gifts (or precious time on homemade gifts) only to see them tossed aside, and it’s hurt our relationship with our mom.

I don’t think the OP is anything like my mom, but I share this story as a reminder of how hurtful it can be to have a gift rejected that was meant in kindness. It sounds like you have a really great relationship with this friend and a one time tacky-gift shouldn’t be a big deal. Let her see you use it once or twice and then follow the advice others have given- donate it or toss it and come up with a gracious excuse for needing to replace it with a more practical teapot.

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Cat November 18, 2014 at 5:26 am

Your Mom seems to be sending both you and your brother the message, “You can’t do anything right” or ” You don’t know me-not even well enough to buy me a present I’ll like”. I don’t think I’d keep trying to give her anything either.
Mothers, you have got to love them, but they can drive you nuts.

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AnaMaria November 18, 2014 at 10:07 am

Yup, exactly.

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hakayama November 18, 2014 at 7:19 pm

And then, it takes quite a long while to realize, and dare to acknowledge, that the mothers themselves ARE nuts. OK, let me make it “unhinged”, so that I avoid criticism for amateur diagnoses. 😉

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don't blink November 17, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Admin, perfectly said. OP, look beyond the gift itself and appreciate the gesture behind it.

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startruck November 17, 2014 at 5:25 pm

this so reminds me of my mother. who was long suffering God bless her. she and my dad got married very young and so people would constantly give them things they “needed”. my grandmother gave her an old punch bowl set complete with cups and my mom hated it. it was to big to fit in our cabinets so it was kept on display on our dinning room. sometimes when we needed the table it sat on, we would carefully move it to another room and then move it back . it was an eye sore. when i got older i asked my mom, why dont you just get rid of it. she said i cant! grandma gave it to me. lol i firmly believe that if you truly respect someone, you will be honest with them. i would rather have a friend just tell me something like, thank you! that so nice, but its really not my thing, than pretend to my face to like it, while secretly hating it, then shove it in a closet after i leave. i think its speaks to how close the friendship is . that level of honestly means your true friends , not fake friends. but please make sure she knows how truly grateful you are and how much it means to you that she thinks of you . you can even accept it graciously , and thank her, but dont pretend to love it and then dispose of it later. that will be even more hurtful if she found out.

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Ergala November 17, 2014 at 7:04 pm

I have an amazing Best friend whom knows that I love anything she makes/gives me. She knows I love owls and has randomly bought owl themed items (My favorite is the owl shaped mug! I have a ton of mugs but man this one is close to my heart!). She knows I hate knick knacks but she also knows I love owls. I get her stuff too when I find something that reminds me of her. We both laugh at kooky items and sometimes it’s that strange out of place item that you can’t bring yourself to get rid of down the road because it reminds you of that person. At the time you kind of wondered what on earth you are supposed to do with it, but it too shall find a place in your home and heart.

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Mags November 17, 2014 at 7:32 pm

It was nice of the friend to think of the OP, but I truly doubt that a lot of thought was put into the gift. I mean, does everybody else think the friend was scouring second hand stores looking for a bird shaped teapot? I would think it far more likely that the friend was in the shop, spotted the bird teapot, got a kick out of it, and bought it for friend because it was only a couple dollars.

As for what to do, I’d probably redonate it after thanking the gift giver. If I thought I could pull it off, I might make a comment like, “Oh my goodness, they make all kinds of things these days, don’t they? That’s funny.” That would hopefully set up the cue that I appreciate it but it will receive the same fate as a gag type of gift — that is, good for a moment of entertainment, but not something that you keep.

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hakayama November 17, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Dear OP: Thank you for an idea for a future pottery project. 😉 I’m visualizing a rooster shape, with fabulous colors on the tail. The problem lies in the spout-body ratio…
Since you were too fearful of offending in trying to put a stop to the gift, you are stuck. But it’s not as bad as Hollyhock’s huge “art” piece, so be glad for small mercies. Plus the big one of having someone who’s got you on her mind.
Teapots can happily live in cupboards although mine, about two dozen of them, take turns in showing themselves. Just think, it could have been a 3×3 ft painting on velvet. 😉 Best wishes for your friendship.

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allison November 17, 2014 at 9:59 pm

This letter makes me sick.

“…all the time hating the darned thing and resenting having to look after it.”

SERIOUSLY??? All those strong negative feelings over a teapot? How about you hate and resent it when someone does some actual harm to you. Just a thought.

I have a solution for you, which will probably happen on it’s own. Don’t have any friends. Especially nice, thoughtful ones.

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kit November 18, 2014 at 8:11 am

It must be nice to be a person who likes everything. 😀

My aunt gave me these socks two or three years ago for Christmas. Warm pink socks with non-slippery soles and pom-poms on them. I don’t like pink… and I don’t like fancy. But they were warm and non-slippery, and for me usefulness beats prettiness any day, so I wore them. Only… each time I happened to glance at my own legs, I shuddered involuntarily. Yes, such negative feelings from just a pairs of socks!

It has a happy ending, though – I cut off those pom-poms and my relationship with my feet went uphill from that. Actually I am wearing these same socks right now! – they may be ugly and no non-slippery anymore, but they are still warm socks for walking around in my house in November.

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starstruck November 18, 2014 at 10:49 am

awe, thats a bit harsh dont you think? just because someone gives you a gift doesnt mean you have to love it. and saying she wont have any friends because she resents a teapot is crazy. i wouldnt want any friends that would drop me over a tea pot. that wouldnt be a friend at all. just saying

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iwadasn November 18, 2014 at 12:12 pm

If OP continues to harbor such strong feelings of resentment toward each friend who tries to do something thoughtful for her, pretty soon she won’t have any friends left, whether she wants them or not.

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Library Diva November 18, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I see what Allison’s saying, though. It’s just a teapot. OP sure is making a mountain out of it. Put the thing in a cupboard and drag out when the friend comes around. Use it as a planter for a trailing plant. Box it up, put it in a closet or basement, and forget it. Say “How lovely” and then throw it out the minute your friend leaves, and tell her it met with an unfortunate accident if she asks about it again. But don’t let the thing annoy you for years — look beyond what it is, and think about what it means.

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Ai November 18, 2014 at 11:07 am

Though I don’t have as strong of negative feelings, that line there bothered me too. How do you resent looking after a teapot? It’s a teapot; not a plant. Nothing wrong with sticking it in a cupboard and thus never having to look at it again. The OP is really whining over nothing.

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cashie November 17, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Op, I would love to have this woman as my acquaintance. Where do I meet people like her? She sounds sweet and charming. Many of my own friends have moved, and even though we all still talk, it would still be nice to have one or two friends to hang out with.

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Shalamar November 17, 2014 at 10:42 pm

I’m on team OP here. My MIL is famous for giving gifts that she thinks the recipient should enjoy (note: “should”), even if they’ve already said they don’t want such a gift. One occasion was when she informed me that a corner in my house looked bare and needed a plant. I said “I’m no good with plants; they always die.” She said “You need a fake plant, then.” I said “Ugh, no, I hate fake plants.” Guess what her next gift to me was? I smiled tightly and threw it out the next chance I got.

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hakayama November 18, 2014 at 7:30 pm

This would be the one perfect occasion to be totally, absolutely and positively adamant: NO, MIL. Do not leave it here. If you do, it will mean more work for me because I WILL not keep it here.
Your choice, MIL. Either you take it back, or I will dispose of it.
That MIL of yours certainly falls in the category of folks that want to decorate your space. And her pushing on you the fake plant, thinking that you “will respect your elders” and will be nice, is just a controlling move.
If I ever get around to producing skits, there will be a scene with you and MIL in it. However, YOU will not be too gentle when the plant arrives. 😉 Please forgive me now. Thanks.

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Heather November 17, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Bravo Admin! Well said, well meant and message well delivered to all who need to hear it!

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Gabriele November 18, 2014 at 12:56 am

I worked at a company and started out by not joining in the ‘Secret Santa’ program. (They started it in early Nov) I then said I didn’t observe Christmas in a material way so I would neither give nor accept gifts. Baby showers I’d participate in but nothing else. I didn’t push religion on anyone but I’d say that I wanted to prepare for Christmas in my own way…I did respect their traditions.
Some of us received gifts from vendors, a few in our department usually got big baskets with food assortments or candy. I would open the item and share what I had received with those who had not received a gift. The sad thing was a couple of people who had gotten gifts felt I should have shared mine with them also…one even asked what I was going to do with the basket they came in…(he had a large basket as well…). I said I had a friend who collected them, I would give it to her.
I hate men who sulk. He sulked.
Fast forward. I forget what I had done for our group…it was more in the line of helping them with work they were responsible for but had difficulty getting done in time to pick up children, etc (it was a big project…and no, I wasn’t their boss in any way).
The sulky man brought in a nicely wrapped box and kept it on his desk. People asked him who it was for. Since it was in my field of vision I noticed it was wrapped by a store I would never patronize. Decided maybe it was for our manager. Didn’t care.
He kept getting phone calls from his wife and whispered things to her. No, no, not yet, no, yes I’ll call when she opens it.
My only concern was that it was a distraction to the work I had to finish (very detailed and complex) so I tuned it out.
People started getting ready to leave work…up he pops (it’s 5:01) and announces that his wife just so appreciated what I had done for him so that he could come home to her on time that she shopped for this gift herself and chose the wrapping. And he presented it to me.
I told him I did apprecation her thought and attention but I had always been quite clear about the fact that I did not accept gifts from anyone at work. Ever. So I couldn’t accept this gift. People who knew me (and him) had lingered to see the outcome…would I be kind to him (people often were because he provoked the opposite response but we all worked together so we’d be nice because it was the right thing to do. But the ‘right thing to do’ had to do with working together, not someone ignoring a well-acknowledged foible of mine (when the company gave us turkey certificates my went direct into the collection for the Salvation Army family appeal).
I said I couldn’t accept it. He said but she made a special effort. I asked him if he had told her that I didn’t accept gifts? He said he had but she wanted to do it anyway.
I picked up the box (it was lightweight and I thought it was probably a thin glass vase or such, although the box was about 10″ square) and set it back on his desk.
He seemed close to a meltdown but at that point I wasn’t going to be ‘kind’ and lie. He said, what will I tell her? I said I didn’t know, she was his wife. I’d never even met her. She called him again…he told her he’d have to talk to her when he got home.
One of the co-workers told me she didn’t think I’d do it. I told her that sometimes my principles trump other people’s needs…especially when they created the problem/situation.

With friends, as another poster mentioned, I ask that we share memories, not physical objects. We still do, she taught her daughters and they carry on the ‘share, not spend’…

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yokozbornak November 18, 2014 at 9:31 am

I am confused, but it sounds like he was giving you a gift to say thank you. You come across as extremely rude and ungracious in this scenario.

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Devil's Advocate November 18, 2014 at 11:54 am

Unless there is a major backstory missing (which it doesn’t seem like there is) you really come across a ungracious, mean spirited person in this post. Certainly want you did was tell the truth—however it was not anyway in the realm of proper etiquette.

I think very poorly of those who are unable to think enough outside of themselves to empathize and spare of the feelings of others.

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Hollyhock November 18, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I agree with Yokozbornak.

It’s one thing to pleasantly and politely refrain from group holiday celebrations due to religious constraints (though I still recall the co-worker who rudely rebuffed my offer of a Halloween treat) but you seem determined to disdain and rebuff every gesture of civility in the office, from the management’s well-meant turkey certificate to a thank-you gift from co-workers.

Trust me, behaving this way does not demonstrate moral superiority, it demonstrates that you feel that maintaining your quirky, eccentric and obstinate stance on gifts is more important to you than is being considerate of those around you. Not cool at all.

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Anonymous November 18, 2014 at 2:52 pm

I agree with Gabriele. She made her wishes known, about not accepting gifts from co-workers, and her co-worker ignored it. It’s one thing to WANT to participate in the office Secret Santa, or give out turkey vouchers (which I wouldn’t accept either, because I’m vegan), or to enjoy receiving gifts yourself, but Gabriele’s co-worker seemed determined to bulldoze over her clearly-expressed wish not to participate. Trust me, behaving this way does not demonstrate moral superiority, it demonstrates that the co-worker felt that his need to be “generous” was more important than Gabriele’s need to celebrate Christmas in her own way, that didn’t include giving or receiving gifts. If he’d really wanted to thank her, he could have bought her a cup of coffee or something.

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hakayama November 18, 2014 at 7:40 pm

@Anonymous: I just love your choice of the word “bulldoze” here. That poor man’s actions, most likely super strongly under the influence of a bulldozing wife, were desperate.
He was probably more fearful of his spouse than of the coworker (boss, even), and he was just propelled onto the bulldozing path. The person we could easily be angry at, is the guy’s wife. She’s most likely the iron hand in a velvet glove. The __ __ __! :-/
Yup. Bulldozers come in all sizes, shapes, etc.

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Yet Another Laura November 18, 2014 at 2:16 pm

I find it odd that he waited until quitting time to give you a gift when he knows you don’t accept them, especially since the gift was out on his desk for everyone to see all day long.

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NostalgicGal November 18, 2014 at 11:57 pm

I agree with odd, and by the way he left it out all shiny and obvious, it was meant to be a spectacle of some kind. I will side with having reiterated the known by everyone else that Gabriele doesn’t accept coworker gifts ever, and handing it back without opening it.

Bravo Gabriele for not participating in what was looking like a massive build to something splashy and public.

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RC November 18, 2014 at 3:37 pm

How ungracious!

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Kirst November 18, 2014 at 3:01 am

For probably three out of the last five years, a friend has given me a set of washbags for my birthday. I didn’t need washbags as I already had at least three, and I definitely don’t need three more sets (each set has three, of different sizes), and even if I had needed more, I really dislike the designs she has picked. I’m not sure why she thinks I need so many, or if she’s forgotten what she’s already bought. But I smile, say thank you very much, and in a few months I’ll put them on ebay.

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Cheryl November 20, 2014 at 9:16 am

Just be careful, Kirst, that your friend doesn’t buy them for you from your ebay listing 🙂

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Victoria patterson November 18, 2014 at 3:59 am

I have just had a birthday and a very dear friend has given me some earrings for pierced ears, which unfortunately I don’t have. Rather than make her feel bad for forgetting, I took them with great delight, amazed that she had remembered both my birthstone and the style of jewellery I wear. I will discreetly ask one of my other friends, a jewellery maker, to convert them for me. There is no way I would have hurt this lady for the world, she is so kind and sweet. Sometimes it is better to concentrate on what the giver meant, than the actual gift.

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Anonymous November 18, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Well, that’s lucky that you have a friend who makes jewelry, and could change your earrings from pierced to clip-on or magnetic. If you didn’t have jeweler friend, would you have paid to have it done at a jewelry store? I’m just curious, because I don’t think it’s ungrateful to not use a gift that requires an outlay of money or significant effort to be usable, and I also don’t think it’s ungrateful to gently speak up and say why the gift is unusable for you. I have an uncle who lives out of the country, and when I was growing up, he’d send me and my brother computer games as gifts, but they didn’t work on our computer, because our computer was a few years behind his. So, my dad (his brother) just told him, “Hey, Bro, we appreciate the computer game, but it isn’t going to work for us, because it’s for X model of computer, and we have Y.” That happened for maybe one or two Christmases, and then after that, Faraway Uncle started sending programs that did work on our computer, or alternatively, gifts that didn’t have compatibility issues. So, I wouldn’t call it rude, because, just like your friend who put a lot of thought into finding earrings with your birthstone, Faraway Uncle tried hard to find computer games that’d be appealing for me and my brother (quite a feat, finding something that’s fun for a boy and a girl who are three years apart). Given that, he wanted us to be able to use them. For the record, our favourite was Kid Pix, and when he found the one that worked on our computer, we spent hours on it, making pictures and slideshows.

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NostalgicGal November 19, 2014 at 12:00 am

In some of the larger hobby stores and online order places that cater to those that like to make jewelry (and will sell one item to anyone) it is not that hard to find conversion sets for making pierced earrings to non. I’ve done that many a time, when someone asks me to convert a set; direct them to where they can buy what they want; and it’s peasy to do the switch. Only if you received precious metal earrings and need the convert to be same; it’s not that outrageously expensive.

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Devin November 19, 2014 at 1:38 pm

OMG, KidPix!! That is a blast from the past. I don’t know how many ‘pieces of art’ I made for my parents using that software. I know my dad still has a few in a memory box in his closet, but a great deal more made their way to the trash can (as they should have).

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just4kicks November 18, 2014 at 5:28 am

When I was a little girl, we had an elderly couple for neighbors. They had two grown son’s, and no grandkids. This lovely lady took a shine to me and would call a few times a year to say she had made a fresh batch of cookies, and ask my mom if she could spare for an hour or so. I would sit for sometimes hours pigging out on cookies and hot cocoa and just keeping Mrs. M company. I learned very quickly to not comment too strongly on her many knick knacks, because at the end of my visit I’d be sent home with a bag full of cookies, (what I wouldn’t give for one of those right now!) and whatever items in her home I’d commented on. It was so lovely of her, and of course I said “Oh, Mrs. M! I really can’t take your glass owl!” She’d pat my hand and say “what am I going to do with this? If you like it, please take it with you!” Not too many nine year olds have a need for knick knacks, but she loved giving them to me, and I always left her place with a full belly and lots of little treasures. It’s the thought that counts, for sure.

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AnaMaria November 18, 2014 at 10:17 am

If she was elderly, I wonder if she wanted to make sure her smaller items where going to someone who would enjoy them (you had no use for them, but at least you could remember her by them). Otherwise, if they weren’t valuable and her sons didn’t know the sentimental value behind them, they would just be a nuisance for her sons to deal with when they needed to settle her estate.

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just4kicks November 18, 2014 at 3:05 pm

@Ana Maria: That was always my parent’s thought as well.
She often told my folks I was her “adopted” granddaughter, and she enjoyed our visits very much.
She was a very lovely lady, I’m sure the angels in heaven have commented quite often they couldn’t possibly eat another of her delicious cookies! 🙂

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another Laura November 18, 2014 at 7:39 am

Does it seem strange to anyone else that OP has already decided she hates the teapot without having seen it? What if it is an incredibly beautiful piece of art that happens to be in the form of a teapot. Just googling bird teapot shows a wide variety of styles from kitschy to down right gorgeous. OP, did your friend tell you it was a “cheap, novelty” item that she bought from a thrift shop? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to at least see the gift before rejecting it (even if the giver never knows you don’t like it)?

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Lera99 November 18, 2014 at 8:38 am

I have a friend who has simplified her life by owning no more than 250 items.
If she buys something new, she has to get rid of something else.

Her condo is always immaculate and looks ready to be shot for a magazine cover.

She is a huge Disney fan and for years I didn’t know about her 250 item rule.
So every year for Christmas I would give her some little Disney figurine. She always accepted them with lots of thanks while oooohing and ahhhhing over how cute it was.

Years later we were out to lunch one summer and I was complaining about cleaning out my back room and that’s when she told me about her 250 item rule.

Ever since then, I’ve given her gift cards to restaurants or tickets to an event instead. She always accepts those with a lot of thanks while ooooohing and ahhhhing over how much she loves that restaurant or how much she is looking forward to that event.

There was no need for her to tell me “Hey, you keep getting me these figurines. They aren’t my style. Please stop.” She never made me feel bad for the previous gifts I gave her. We never even discussed them. I was able to put 2 and 2 together in order to make better decisions when shopping for her in the future.

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RC November 18, 2014 at 3:42 pm

*applause* This is how it should be done! Your friend is sweet and thoughtful, there is no need to point out that you keep buying her gifts that she wouldn’t keep. She was perfectly gracious. And likewise, Lera is a thoughtful and observant friend who remembered an unrelated conversation about cleaning, put two and two together, and changed her behaviour accordingly, all without confrontation or an awkward conversation.
*more applause*

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hakayama November 18, 2014 at 8:13 pm

I used to know a woman with a house similar to your friend’s, Lera99. That gal’s own mother would ask her if anybody lived in that house. Kinda sad, right? I imagine that there are plenty of “happy medium” homes out there…

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