Monday, September 17, 2012

What Goes Around Comes Back Around----Thank Goodness

Bought a ticket for a runaway train
Like a madman laughin' at the rain
Little out of touch, little insane
Just easier than dealing with the pain

("Runaway Train", Soul Asylum)

Approximately seventeen or eighteen years ago, before Blaine and I got divorced, his brother and sister-in-law bought a house.  And so it was planned to give them a housewarming party.  I immediately set to the task of finding a wonderful housewarming gift for them.

They were very broke and so I wanted to give them a really nice gift.  So I asked his sister-in-law what colors she was going to decorate her house in and when she mentioned the kitchen she said was going to decorate it in "white and green".  So that gave me something to work with.

After looking at a hundred things here and there, I finally arrived at one of my favorite antique shops.  And there they were.  These four graduated sizes of gorgeous fluted white cannisters with handpainted green florals---and little flowers for the lid pulls!  They were Italian and very old---it was a complete wonder that the four cannisters had survived the decades at all without any chips and all the tops intact.

I thought that I had found THE PERFECT GIFT!  How could anyone not love them?  Especially a person who loves antiques like Blaine's sister-in-law does.  And they were in her desired color scheme.  So I bargained a fair price for them with the dealer.  They were very expensive.  (But I am a ruthless "bargainer"---I learned that skill from many of the foreign countries I lived in overseas where prices are not customarily "set"---the price is usually dickered back and forth between the buyer and seller before the final price is arrived at.)

And I was so happy that I had found her what I considered a good housewarming present.  I looked forward to her opening them.  But deep down, actually, I wistfully realized that I loved the cannisters for myself---and was kind of sorry that I had designated them as a gift for someone else.  But, with secret longing, I wrapped them up for her, already jealous that she would have these lovely cannisters for herself.

At the housewarming party she looked as though she was very happy with them.  So I thought all was well.

And then....

Two days later, her husband, Blaine's brother, called me and said:  "We have decided to give these back to you.  We don't like them."

I was crushed.

And confused.

And right after that he drove to our house and unceremoniously returned the box containing the cannisters.  Blaine and I were somewhat confounded about the whole matter but we just went on, trying to forget the unpleasant incident.  I was confused because I had been raised to be a lady---and I thought that a "real lady" would never do such a thing---but I just shook my head in disbelief as I stood there holding the box with the precious cannisters.  I set about putting the whole matter out of my mind. I must not have put it out of my subconscious because, unfortunately, those times were among my totally heavy drinking days.   And later that year I did insult her in an ugly manner one time when I was three sheets to the wind blotto on vodka..

(The way it went down was due to her criticizing me about being addicted to alcohol by saying "she hated a drunk", and I promptly replied: "Oh really?  Well YOU'RE addicted to cigarettes so pray tell how our addictions differ?  Well I guess yours is more "acceptable" because you can't be pulled over on the highway for being under the influence of nicotine....")

(these days we're cordial...)

Anyway, that was a very long time ago.  I divorced Blaine in 1997 but then, as you know, I returned to him in 2007.  So, anyhoo, the other day Blaine was cleaning out the basement and.....

...he called up to me from the basement and asked if  I wanted an old dusty box "with jars" in there.  I went downstairs and looked into the box--- and THERE THEY WERE!  And the ironic thing is that we found them while we're in the midst of re-decorating the entire house!  And I haven't figured out the scheme for the dining room yet, but now I will definitely do the dining room around the colors of these lovely cannisters.  (They won't go with the decor of the kitchen as it is being done in stainless steel large appliances and red small appliances, with accoutrements in both colors.)

But I can decorate the dining room in green and white if I choose and so I'll put the cannisters in there just for looks.  I already have a whimsical plan for a corner in there that will look positively enchanting with these beautiful cannisters.  (I'm filling them with marbles to make them heavy so that the cats can't knock them over.)

I still wonder about a couple of things, though:

1.  Why in the hell did she have her husband, Blaine's brother, call me to tell me they didn't like them?  Wasn't that her duty?  I know she was probably uncomfortable at having to return them to me but still--- the dirty chore belonged to her.  (At least that's the way I look at it.)

2.  Why did she hate them?  I just can't imagine anybody hating them.  Who would hate such pretty antiques---no matter what color your dang kitchen is?  She herself loves antiques.  And another thing is that there are very few antique china cannister sets that are intact from the teens and 20's decades---especially ones in a person's preferred color scheme.  (The teens and 20's were decades when handpainting china was popular among young ladies.)  Don't you guys think the cannisters are lovely?

3.  What's more---they totally matched her decor, in spades.

4.  And for that matter---who returns gifts?  Couldn't she have hidden them and only brought them out if me and Blaine went to visit?  Or couldn't she have made up a white lie and said that she dropped the whole box holding them and caused them all to shatter?  (That's what I would have done rather than tell the gift-giver that I hated their gift....)

Anyway, when Blaine found the box containing them, I was jubilant.  I was ecstatic!  It was like Christmas for me!  I had never really wanted to give them up in the first place!  (Sorry about all the exclamation points.)

But still....




  1. I have never heard of anyone giving back a gift - hide it, give it away to someone else - yes, but not give it back to the gift giver. But having said that, I think having them, even though I liked them, would remind me of her rudeness, so I wouldn't be able to enjoy having them myself anymore!

    I went through a similar thing recently in that my dh's youngest niece was getting married. We found out in the Spring & I immediately went out & bought the yarn to start my normal gift for a wedding - especially a family wedding - a filet crochet afghan that reminds me of double wedding rings. I was about 6 weeks into making it when I happened to check out their listing for gift registries & saw that they said they wanted no gifts, they wanted money since both had grown up as missionary kids & had lived pretty mobile lives, etc., so they could use the money for a new computer for the bride.... I decided that being unemployed, I had no more money to give them & the tickets for just my dh to attend was close to $500. So I went ahead & finished the afghan, mailed it to them so that my dh didn't have to try to fit it into carry on luggage. When he got the package, I called to make sure he took his mom's socks out before giving it to them & he tells me that yes they did, but they didn't want gifts. I told him I explained in the card that by the time I found out no gifts, I had already spent the money on the yarn & was 6 weeks into making the afghan. I proceeded to tell him that they were rude to even be asking for money instead of gifts & that if they didn't like it, they could throw it away! And I don't know that I will ever make another gift or send another gift to this couple!

    And I think part of what ticks me off about it isn't even totally their fault, but her parents! His sister made sure to show me 35 years ago what she was making for our wedding gift - a latch hook wall hanging. She even brought it to our house 10 months later when she was here saying that she was going to finish it while she was here, but that her dh had told her she wouldn't be allowed to mail it back, if she didn't finish it while she was here. Instead of working on it, she worked on an embroidery sampler that was supposed to be for our oldest daughter. Took both back home with her. Not sure what happened to the sampler, but we later got pictures of our wall hanger wedding gift hanging on their living room wall. We never got a gift from them for any of our 3 kids or our wedding. I don't remember what I sent for the daughter that just got married, but I know the son that was born 3 months before our son got an entire set of things sewn by me for them - diaper hanger, diaper bag, blanket, etc.

    Now my sil sent me a message that the gift was opened the day my dh was heading to the airport & that she thinks after 39 years maybe she needs to renew her vows so that she can have one - but nothing yet from the bridal couple & it's been about 6 weeks since the wedding.

    1. I just don't know what is in people's heads when they do stuff like that! I mean, I would value a box of dirt if it was a gift---it would never occur to me to return a gift no matter what it was! I feel the same way about dinners and a guest(s) state they don't like the food! That's happened to me before. Once, my mother-in-law called me to say she didn't want cumin in any dish I was going to make for Thanksgiving. Know what I did? I told her don't worry---I won't put cumin in anything. And then I put cumin in every single dish. And she ate it all with gusto and proceeded to thank me for not putting any cumin in anything!!!! HEH! (I know, I'm evil....)

  2. Susie
    Your tweet about apologizing made me realize how absolutely horrible I have been to you.
    Please accept my sincere apology.
    I don't know how I got caught up in such awful behaviour toward another, I am not that kind of person. I am appalled by my own behaviour .I most humbly apologize.

  3. I LOVE antique anythings and cannot for the life of me think that this gift return was proper or even nice. But since you loved the cannisters, I'm glad they were returned to you.
    I also like to make hand-crafted gifts....even if someone says they want money, I really don;t have bushels of cash to pass out. What I do is cross-stich the wedding invitation and have it matted, with room for a wedding photos and then a space for yearly anniversary photos. I usually just slide in the engagement photo as a placekeeper and attach a note. The framing I leave up to the newlyweds. If they don't like it, they can set it on fire for all I care. For about ten dollars, I have created a lovely gift and given myself something to do for a couple of months. Except for my time, it is an inexpensive gift to give. (Plus I don't like someone dictating a cash gift to me. If they REALLY don;t want gifts, they can simply state that my presence is gift enough...but I am not going to be held hostage for a new computer!) My go-to gifts for couples I only know because I know a parent? A pair of candlesticks from the Mikasa Outlet store.

  4. Thank you, Chloe! Yes, those cannisters were a great find, packed away in a dusty box in the basement---and now I have them for myself, yay! And I really love your gifts---a cross stitch of a wedding invitation would be totally lovely gift and I would cherish something like that for the rest of my life!

    Bo :)