A glimpse at the “worst gifts ever” file

This morning, while I tuned in to the Panther and the Lion having a minor domestic dispute about gifts, I thought back to some of the really bizarre, inappropriate and downright thoughtless gifts I’ve received from Significant  Others (hereinafter referred to as SOs).

Not to sound ungrateful or anything, but gift-giving is a real art in which not many are accomplished. To give a really good gift, you have to be totally selfless during the whole gift choosing, purchasing/making/organizing process. You have to have been paying attention to everything that’s been in your SO’s heart and mind in the preceding months or even years. You really have to know what would delight them, not what you think they might like or (worse) what you think they should like because you like it.

My high school boyfriend, after 2+ years of dating decided one Christmas that a nice gift for me would be a brown plaid shirt. Which he purchased by taking 4 female friends of his (of whom I wasn’t overly fond) to the mall for an evening to help him choose. He gave each of them a fun bracelet to thank them for their help.

A man I was living with as a grown-up got me a sauerkraut barrel for Valentine’s one year, so I could make sauerkraut next fall. Because he loved the homemade sauerkraut like his mom used to make. The bonus was that his mom came over for 2 whole days in a row to show me exactly how to make perfect sauerkraut.

One fella I actually had notions of settling down with, decided he would come over and cook me a spectacular dinner for my birthday. He arrived 2 hours late, forgot half the groceries he needed and left me with a bottle of champagne while he went out shopping. By the time he finally got back, most of the champagne had been consumed. (If you’ve ever had most of a bottle of champagne on an empty stomach while really angry, you’ll have some idea of how I was feeling by the time he actually started cooking). Then I find out he’s making something with mussels which he knew perfectly well made me hurl. He reckoned I’d love them the way he was preparing them though.

I didn’t. In fact, I continued to not like them for the next 2 or 3 days.

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34 responses to “A glimpse at the “worst gifts ever” file

  1. I take it that marked the end of the notion of settling down with him?

    Worst gift was from an ex’s mom. She actualy gave me underwear for christmas. A 3-pack. Of waist hight nylon granny pants.

    I kid you not.

  2. For our first – and only – Christmas together, my ex-husband gave me a cheque. (He went out and chose relatively thoughtful gifts for everybody else on his list.) Several hours later I admitted I felt hurt that he’d given me a cheque, so he threw the cheque into the fire and we never spoke of it again.

  3. Hooo! Good stuff.

    Worst set of gifts ever was from my college boyfriend (who has since gone on to be a successful professional artist and college professor): plastic eggplant .5 of scale, wooden 2″ paintbrush (for painting on the…) chocolate-flavored body butter (not for me, it’s known I’m not fond of chocolate), a large marcasite pin shaped like a cheesy bow, and the inside of a bausch and lomb contact solution box hand-painted in acrylics by the artist. He had taken a guy friend along to help shop.

  4. My sister gave me a foot tall wooden carving of a giraffe for Xmas.

    It still baffles me how she came to the conclusion it was the gift for me.

  5. Jazz- Yes, no settling. Did the big-ass underwear accomplish her evil goal to break the two of you up?

    Zoom – I guess if it was a really, really big cheque and he’d printed very, very neatly and painstakingly on it, it might be an okay gift…. and it came with a diamond tennis bracelet wrapped in it….(I’ve always wanted one of those for some reason)

    Nylonthread – Were those all at once gifts or the entire collection of gifts he ever gave you?

    Dave – Sounds like a re-gift to me. Your sister obviously hates you. Or maybe she thought you needed a decorating theme for your place and hoped the giraffe would inspire some sort of safari decor???Hell, I don’t know.

  6. An all-at-once set. Other gifts were a gbc-bound collection of his poetry (from high school & beyond: very bad) and also a set of abstract-y photographs that he took for a photo class in which I was the model. They were …interesting… (backstory: the only studio time he could book for that session was at 2AM because he always did everything last minute and waited too long to book. I didn’t look my best at that hour, but that didn’t matter to his underlying concept). He was an entertaining guy and very spontaneous. Thoughtful? Not so much.

    I need to blog about one of his Halloween costumes one day. For years afterward I would double over laughing just thinking about it.

  7. Gift giving IS an art and I only know a couple people who have seriously mastered it.

    A few years ago, one of them got a candle from a woman we worked with at the time.

    A candle we both remembered she’d been given the Christmas before.

    A candle that had – quite obviously – already been burned at least once.

  8. I was once madly in love with a man who gave me a monkey head bowl for Christmas. It was the most ghastly thing I have ever seen. My feelings for him cooled quickly after that.

    But a sauerkraut barrel, complete with the mother-in-law’s instructions – well, that beats all.

    I take it you are not fond of either mussels or sauerkraut. 🙂

  9. Nylonthread – Sounds like something a little kid would give his mom because he doesn’t have any money, so scrounges around in some of his own stuff that he doesn’t want anymore. Can’t wait for the Hallowe’en costume story.

    Zoom – And you’re not married to this prince anymore, why?

    Lesley – A re-gifted, used candle — a gift that says, ” because you’re totally not worth it”

    Jo – Monkeys are always good for a laugh, unless their heads are made into bowls. Then they’re just creepy. And, actually I love sauerkraut and was quite happy with the finished product — I’ve never had better kraut, in fact. It just didn’t seem like a very romantic gift for Valentines. It was a hell of a lot of work – all that shredding and stomping. His mom brought over bushels full of cabbage and she was really bossy. And our place smelled like fermented cabbage for the 2 weeks while it was fermenting and then another 2 weeks after that.

  10. XUP – Nope it didn’t break us up then; it took me a while to understand that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and that the boy was a nasty piece of work. Live and learn…

  11. Gifting is a funny thing, isn’t it? My first husband gave me a passenger side external rearview mirror for my car for my first Mother’s Day. I never used my side mirrors anyway, but when he drove the car, he wanted a mirror there.

    I have an exception to the “what you think they should like ” part. That was Mom. She often gave me things that didn’t wow me on first sight, but I ended up loving and either using or wearing all the time. In her case Mother did know best.

  12. OMG, we traumatized you! LOL. Sauerkraut barrel?! Mussels make you hurl? You are my sister!!! So far, for all our kidding, no bad gifts from the Lion. Interesting LTR#2 would always get me good gifts but they were always more than I wanted because he liked to show to his family how wealthy (in his mind) he was. I would much preferred something from the heart, not something for show.

    BTW, Navarra? Amazing!!! It’s our new favourite restaurant. And guess who was sitting at the bar when we walked in. The chef himself!

  13. Off topic – Urban Panther, I gotta figure – if the chef is sitting at the bar – maybe the place isn’t busy enough?

    On topic – No one has ever gotten me a thoughless or stupid gift that I can remember. Everyone has always made perfectly thoughtful, generous choices when selecting presents for me.

    God, I almost swallowed my tongue that time.

  14. @JB – when we walked in the place as empty. Literally!! I thought “Huh, last time I take XUP’s advice”, but as soon as we were seated Mr Hot Stuff Chef hightailed it off the kitchen and the food was, in a word, ‘devine’! And the Urbane Lion is hard to impress being a former chef. By the time we left the place was packed. And what? Nobody has ever given you a pair of black socks?

  15. I used to get nylons and chocolate mints every year from a neighbour, even though every year she would ask my mother what I would like and every year my mother would gently remind her that I don’t wear nylons (or panty hose, or skirts, even) and HATE mints. Later, she started adding a chq to the minty smelling hose, so that was okay.

  16. UP, sometimes my sarcasm is so evil, it slides by unrecognized as such. I’ve had a lifetime full of stupid, meaningless, waste-of-money-as-a-matter-of-fact-I-wish-they’d-just-give-me-the-money gifts.
    My wife picks out some good ones, and my Dad knew me pretty well, and usually gave me great stuff. Everyone else should have just given me money.

    If I’m ever in Ottawa, I’ll hit Navarra on your recommendation.

  17. Jazz- But now you’re madly in love and Mr. Jazz only gets exactly what you want or didn’t even know you wanted but love immediately, right?

    Meanie – Why do people buy other people clothes? Brown plaid shirt not withstanding, I’ve gotten clothes from all sorts of people that I wouldn’t be seen dead and brutalized in. Velour…ye gods!!!

    Geewits – Well, your mom knows you well and obviously loves you to pieces. What a lucky gal. I always feel so guilty about hating the things my mum gives me. The mirror thing, though is equal to the bowling ball Homer gives Marge for her birthday.

    UP – Damn you woman!! Did you at least tell him he had a groupie and that you were only there because of me??????? I’m so glad the food was good. And I’m never speaking to you again for going there without me. (okay, I might if you take me next time. I’ll find some sort of lion or cougar or leopard or something to bring) And btw – I never recommended the restaurant to anyone. The blog was just about the hotness factor of the chef.

    JB – Hey where have you been? Glad to hear from a male person on the gifting thing. So far it’s only been women slagging off their male SOs gifting lameness. And if you’re ever in Ottawa, you’d better call me and take me to Navarra with you.

    Violetsky – What? your neighbour gave you hose, mints and a cheque???? Why?

  18. I’ve been sitting here trying to think of a bad gift I’ve received and I think I may have just blocked them all out! Trauma-induced amnesia, I think. 🙂

  19. She was my mother’s best friend and we’ve always exchanged at Xmas and bdays. I used to wrack my brain thinking of nice, interesting things for her and once I became a teenager EVERY YEAR, I’d get the same thing. Twice.

  20. TUBE SOCKS!

    One time when we were teenagers and both still living at home, my brother bought me a book I wanted for Christmas. He decided to read it before giving it to me, and left it open on his bed in OUR shared room.
    It was a good gift, and I did enjoy the book, however.

  21. I sense a significant trend here from SO’dom to Ex So’dom
    XUP ex bf
    JAzz an ex’s mom; Zoom ex husband; Nylon thread ex bf, Jo once in love; Geewits first husband; Urban Panther LTR#2;

    It’s enough, or should be enough, to give warning to men usually, to think a little about the gift if you want to maintain the SO classification.

  22. It should be easier, once knowing the day-to-day habits, likes and dislikes, of a person, to choose something appropriate/useful/thoughtful as a gift. Still, it seems some people just don’t get that. Obviously, their lack of thoughtfulness/powers of observation contributes to them becoming ‘exes’ (or perhaps ‘excess’, as in – no longer necessary), because they’re probably thoughtless in other aspects of the relationship beyond gift-giving.
    However, warning those kinds of people probably wouldn’t help much. If they can’t pick up on another person’s likes, dislikes, etc., simply from observing them, it’s doubtful that a direct warning would do anything more than sound like nagging. Just ask for money, or gift certificates to your favourite store…and once you get it, dump them. 😉

    C.C., I’ve been bounced all over the schedule at work, have had a sick family, (which culminated with my 2.5 year old boy ending up with pneumonia), and all of that has made me too busy to even read anyone else’s blogs, let alone comment, let alone post on my own blog.
    Nice to be playing Scramble (over there) with you, however.
    …and if I’m ever in Ottawa, it’s a date at Navarra, or whatever word you’re otherwise comfortable with.

    UP, sorry about missing it. Maybe we should invent some kind of ‘internet/blogging mark’ which warns of impending sarcasm, discernible only by those who appreciate sarcasm, and wish to volley.

  23. Craptastic gifts…I guess the worst gift is no gift which is a recurring theme around here. As JB said, simple powers of observation should make the gifting an easy task.

    A few actual craptastic gifts – some kid in 5th grade giving me a handful of his mother’s jewelry. I don’t recall the specifics of the loot, but there were a couple of rings (sized for a woman’s finger, not a squeaky little 5th grader’s fingers), bracelets, necklaces. I took them home and put them in a kitchen drawer alongside the forks, knives, and spoons. They may still be buried in that drawer today.

    Wind shield wipers from the extremely practical grad school “special friend.” (we never outed ourselves as a couple…we just f*cked a lot) He also invested a nice chunk of his change for me, so it wasn’t all lost on the wipers. (wipers and a mutual fund…see, very practical)

    I’m sure there are others, but as someone else already said, I’ve selectively blocked them.

  24. Debra – Maybe you’re the only one who has only received good gifts?

    Bob – Well you can’t go wrong with socks – it’s not something I’d like to get from an SO, but I can never have enough socks.

    Bandobras – Yes, the bad gifts are definitely indicative of bad SOdom all around. When you finally tell them it’s over — that’s when you get the bouquet of red roses. It’s the only thing they can think of and they reckon it’s going to make everything okay. Maybe if I’d gotten them for a birthday or just for the heck of it, but not for a “please heave me off he curb where you’ve just tossed me” gesture.

    JB – Sorry to hear about your little one — you’ve had a very trying year with illnesses with him. Poor little tyke. Hope things are improving. See you at Scramble (& maybe Navarra one day).

    OTC – NO GIFT???? We need to have a serious talk. What’s the deal with the 5th grade kid? Were you teaching him or was this one of those hillbilly Demi Moore/Ashton Kucher things? Mutual funds… that’s actually a pretty cool gift.

  25. When my sister and brother-in-law started selling Amway, they bought all their Xmas gifts from Amway [while simultaneously encouraging me to join Amway]. When my sister started selling Avon, I received Avon cologne for several time. Luckily, they eventually got full time jobs and the gifts became better.

  26. Brad – What could be better than Amway and/or Avon? I’ve gotten Avon stuff that I know for a fact has been gifted at least 7 times and has never left the box. I, in turn, pass it on to someone else. For all I know there may only be one Avon product and it’s been passed around for centuries.

    OTC – Well, shucks — getting a fist full of jewelry in the 5th grade is pretty damn cool. The kid obviously loved you. You should have married him.

    Bob – I guess if you’re a runner, tube socks aren’t so bad. They’re probably not so good for work.

  27. hunny, the worst gift ever has already been recieved by me. it was a “souvenir” from the airport in my state-mints -_- while all my siblings got aeropostale clothes and michigan SillyBandz