We approach new year’s day as I write this (we would have overtaken it as you read it), and I am on the horns of what one might call a moral dilemma. My usual gifts to near and dear ones are books, perfumes, round-the-world tickets. Now of course that last is ruled out. As for the first, here’s my dilemma: Do I give as gift my recent book written during the various lockdowns this year (last year to you, dear readers)?

It’s called Why Don’t You Write Something I Might Read? If the one receiving the gift thinks to himself (or herself), Why don’t you gift me something I might like, then this whole gift-giving business is thrown out of gear. I would be taking a chance anyway since most near and dear ones who receive perfumes are not the sort who read books (which is why they get perfumes in the first place), and will wonder whom to re-gift the book to.

For that is the underlying theme of the gift-giving season: it is, equally, a re-gift giving season. You don’t like someone’s gift of a curio that looks like a cross between a starving monkey and the back of a stolen bicycle? Well then force it down someone else’s throat. A gift I had once given someone was re-gifted to me (quite quickly, I might add), having gone through a series of re-gifts along the way.

I have also been directly re-gifted a book by the person I originally gifted it to with the words, "I am sure you will enjoy this. It was the last copy I could find." The joy of the gifting season quickly segues into the disaster of the re-gifting.

It would break my heart if someone re-gifted my own book back to me. And that, I think, is the real dilemma, not the tosh I wrote earlier about moral and ethical issues. For then it would show that not only did my giftee not read the book, he didn’t even bother to read the cover to see who it was written by. Or if he did, then the implications are even more dire. He genuinely doesn’t give a rodent’s donkey about my feelings. Countries have gone to war for less.

Like everybody else, I have re-gifted gifts too, figuring gifts are meant to be in circulation till they find a loving home where they fit in with the décor and the hosts’ mindset.

On second thoughts, I will gift my book after all. It will strengthen the relationship with those who like it while keeping at a distance those who don’t and can’t work out how to tell me. Win-win, I think it’s called.

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