The Art of Pre-Gifting

My mother was a wonderful woman. A saint. So honest, she wouldn’t use a pen at work to write a note for something non-work-related without reimbursing for the ink that she used. Nice to everyone. Rarely got upset and never got really angry. Saw the good in everything and everybody. All of my mother’s wonderful qualities and what do I inherit? Her tendency to buy a motley bunch of junk for a gift drawer.

My mom had a dresser in one of her spare bedrooms that was full of gifts and cards that she bought in anticipation of needing to give someone something and not having the time to run to the Liberty Plaza.

I have a box in my bedroom closet that may as well be my mom’s gift drawer. It smells the same (but that might be the Silly Putty, which tends to emit after a time).

Pre-gifting is a dicey art:  No matter how good you are at it, you still will end up with some things that are in the gift drawer for upwards of 5 years. If it gets too old to give as a gift, you’ll have a dickens of a time getting rid of it. It’s new stuff, stuff that you paid for. If you have an ounce of cheapness in you, giving it to Goodwill is going to seem just horrid.

The theory, though, is a good one: Buy stuff when it’s on sale with one or more people in mind, stuff that won’t rot or go out of style, so that when you need a gift - viola! You dip into the pre-gift box and there you go. No need to put shoes on and leave the house to go shopping.

That’s the theory. In reality, my pre-gifting box is full of junk. Right now, I’ve got the following items:

For about 7 years, my pre-gift box contained a set of place mats that were as adorable as they were impractical. They were made of brightly colored felt with a big pompon in each corner. (Yes, that adorable.) They were dry clean only. I finally got tired of fluffing them up every time we moved and just moved them in with my other place mats. I have yet to use them. I’m pretty sure if I had given them as a gift, the recipient wouldn’t have ever used them, either.

I only remember one time that I was ever so desperate that I had to go to my mom’s gift drawer: My friends and I in high school had a Secret Santa gift exchange and I had completely forgotten to buy a gift for Andy Franko. Late the night before - way after the Liberty Plaza had closed - I panicked and approached my mom:

Whaddya got in the gift drawer?

Everything was extremely feminine. Apparently gifts that call out to you as you’re shopping are all for girls.

The most masculine thing I could find was a tin Holly Hobby bank.

Mom, I can’t give him this. It’s Holly Hobby.

“Well, it’s red.”

For the life of me I can’t remember how I resolved this dilemma, but I hope to God I didn’t give Andy Franko a not-pink Holly Hobby bank. Mom’s gift drawer notwithstanding, that would have been a disastrous outcome for a high school senior. Now that I think of it, I haven’t heard from Andy in, oh, the entire 35 years since that gift exchange.

If you’re reading this, Dr. Andrew Franko of Cleveland, Ohio, I’m sorry about the Secret Santa gift, whatever it was. I’m blaming it on the unpredictability of pre-gifting.

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