If the day after Christmas is Boxing Day, there is another day in the week that is equally important but hasn’t been as celebrated. This is the “Reboxing Day” when you rebox the terrible gifts you received and either return them to the store or keep them for the day you need to find a gift for somebody else.
This is one of our long-standing traditions least commented upon; poets who wax eloquent about various themes do not have a lot to say about this aspect of our lives. Surely John Keats must have got a gift for Christmas that he hated and repacked before gifting it to Shelley or one of the others. It seems a very human thing to do, and is one of the acts that separate us from lower animals. Also from inanimate objects, but that’s another matter.
When I was a boy, I was once gifted a box of crayons by an aunt I disliked so much (both the aunt and the crayons, that is) that my parents were forced to buy me something to replace it. I suspect the crayons went to my sister; thus, at an early age I knew that re-gifting was a way of life.
Someone once said that you stop believing in Santa Claus when you first get clothes as Christmas presents. In my case, it was crayons.
This year I received a couple of cricket books, one of them a quiz book for children, and suffered a version of the atheist’s dilemma. You, know, where the atheist feels profoundly grateful for something but doesn’t know whom to thank for it. In my case I felt a profound disgust but didn’t know whom to blame because the gift was from my “secret Santa”.
Thumb-rule of gift giving: never gift a cricket book to a cricket writer or one of Freud’s books to a psychoanalyst unless there is something special about them — a first edition signed by the author, for example. I can’t re-gift the books because I don’t want the giftee to think these are the kind of books I read.
It cuts both ways, of course. Some years ago I gifted a book of mine with the line, “To my friend, with warm regards…” A few weeks later, I found it in a second hand bookstore. There was only one thing to do. I bought the book, and gifted it to the same friend with: “To my friend, with even warmer regards…” Where this will end, I do not know.
There is call for a World Re-gifting Day, when a common human activity is given its proper recognition and holds its own among the days set aside for special activities.
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