Sunday, December 7, 2008

What Would You Do?

In the spirit of giving and receiving presents, I thought of an an interesting incident my husband and I experienced in receiving a gift.

On our tenth anniversary I threw a party and some people brought gifts. We kept all of them and were thankful for them, but the most thoughtful gift of all we returned it to the store. My husband, Clif, plays a sport regularly and some of his teammates came to the party. One of the guys, let's call him Tom, was a newlywed and he and his wife came to the event and also graciously gave us a gift.

A while back, after a game one day "Tom" asked Clif about he and my dating experience. My husband mentioned to him that he and I started watching the E.R. series in 1995 while dating and getting to know each other. So the gift was the complete series of that season. (It was when George Clooney played Dr. Ross and he was being non-committal with Nurse Carol and he and Dr. Green would play basketball while solving each others personal problems - yeah back then when it was really good.) My husband and I thought, although it was the most thoughtful gift we had received, we would never watch it. So I returned it to the store with the gift receipt in hand. While I returned it, I was also buying some socks for my son. The lady at the check out stand asked if I wanted it on my card. Sure, I replied.

A week later, my husband was in R.E.I. sports store when he saw "Tom" and his wife who had given us that thoughtful gift. The guy asked my husband, why did you return my gift. My husband was dumbfounded and didn't know I had already returned it. He stammered and hemmed and actually said we would never watch it, but thank you for the most thoughtful gift.

We tried to figure out what happened and concluded that although I had given the gal at the check out stand a gift receipt, she had returned the gift to the giver allowing them to see that the gift was returned. I had given them my card and they had charged the socks appropriately.

We felt terrible and did not know how to remedy the situation. We knew it would be awkward for Clif and "Tom" when they played on the same team again. What would you do if you were in that situation? What would you have done differently? Should we return our thoughtful gifts we receive or is there some unwritten laws to giving and receiving gifts?


  1. and even if he hadn't found out you returned it when his credit card was reembersed with the cost of the gift he took considerable effort and some funds to get and give to a friend, something that might of ment something to him and he thought to you. How would you feel if you gave a gift to a close friend that you spent considerable time to find and then discovered that they went behind you back to get rid of it how would you feel. Did you really have abloputely no expectation to not watch at least a portion of the series over the time that the storage media was technically supported? would not watch a special episod on a birthday, aniversery of some kind? hidding the act of disposing of something that ment something to the giver is cowardly and if you truely didn't see ANY potential to watch something in the next 20 years, you could have told him that it was very thoughtful and ,however, would he want it back? would he mind if you donated it, etc. like for any relationships that matter, hidding something is never benefitial.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Actually we did do something after, but I did not include it in the blog because I wanted to find out what You would do in the same incident. Sounds as if you would have kept it. We actually did not take the "cowardly" track and didn't hide it all with what we did next. Of course when I give a gift I hope that the person will like it, but I try and include a gift receipt just in case they don't so that way they can return it without letting me know. The gift they gave us did have a gift receipt so they did anticipate that maybe we might return it. By the way, the two were not "close" friends, but played on the same team occasionally. It was so very kind that he came to the party with a gift in hand. We actually really made sure he and his wife knew they gave us the most thoughtful gift of all. In hindsight, we should have kept it, but at the time we really thought that there would never be a time we would watch it. We don't usually return gifts and I think for our wedding gifts we only returned duplicates. Thanks for your comment. Just curious, do you never return gifts (except duplicates) and if they include a gift receipt do you always call them and let them know you are returning it before you do? Just curious. Just a discussion on do's and don'ts in giving and receiving gifts.