Holiday, birthday, hostess, or thank you – what four letter word is synonymous with gift?  HOPE.
Every piece of tissue paper, wrapping paper, gift bag, and ribbon, spells hope. Our pupils dilate, our hearts race a bit as our fingers go to work to unlock the mystery of what’s in the package.
Gift giving is universal – sometimes required, ususally appreciated, and occasionally  heart wrenching. Gifts are subjective; what might delight you when received from one person, might seem quite inappropriate when given by another.
    We have our favorites – and they, also, depend on the movement of the wind upon our heart at that moment. Gifts touch us in a way that no other gestures do: a love note from a child, a clip that is perfect for our hair, the particular tool that does the trick, the box of candy that we wouldn't buy for ourselves, the gift of time to help with a project. There is no price attached to the “rightness” of a gift.
    There are all sorts of articles/blogs on the internet about the worst gifts people ever received. A gift in itself just can't be a bad thing. It is a gift. Wikipedia defines gift as: “a voluntary act which does not require anything in return… The term gift can refer to anything that makes the other happier or less sad, especially as a favor, including forgiveness and kindness.”
What can be bad, or sad, is the unfulfilled expectation that the recipient had. The giver can be construed as thoughtless if the gift you hoped for isn't the gift you received. But someone still took the time to purchase, or dig up out of the closet, something that they then wrapped up and gave. It may have been something they didn't want any more, it may have been all they could afford. Or it may have been something that was precious to them at some time in their life and they are sharing that, albeit in a very oblique way.
    I had a mother-in-law who gave the family bits and pieces of lingerie – the fifteen year old granddaughter got a size XL full slip, the nine year old received a pair of ladies nylon panties, etc.; all with markdown prices attached, useless and confusing to the girls. We wondered why she did this – she certainly had the means to give them gifts that were more “appropriate.” Several years later, I suspected that when she was a young lady, nice lingerie wasn't in her family budget and it was something she wanted, therefore it was what she gave. At least, that is what I hope!
    A friend recently said “My sister has been giving me pears from Harry & David for Christmas the last few years.  I do like them and appreciate them – don't get me wrong.  But I also get a feeling that she gives what she secretly or even subconsciously wants for herself.  That is why I think she will like them when I give her pears this year.” I wished him good luck. Another friend gave his mother the fruit-of-the month club only to find out she gave it directly to her sister because she said she didn't know what to do with it. (Eat it?)  And herein lies the question – do we, should we, give what we would like to receive? We know what it feels like to receive a gift that wasn't what we’d hoped for, or wasn't something we particularly liked, or even wanted.  But what about when that happens to us as the giver? We have all been on the giving end of a gift that wasn't received as we had hoped.  We may offer to exchange it, we may have included the receipt in the box, but sometimes returning it or taking it back just isn't feasible. And there we are; we’d had the same hope in our heart that it would be the perfect gift.
    Of all the incredible gifts I received this year, and it was a bounty year for incredible gifts, one that touched me was a single key on a key ring to a friend's new house in my old hometown, so I’d know that I have a place to stay.  
    So, how do we choose ? What about re-gifting? Let me hear from you about the best gift, silliest gift, or most touching gift you've ever given or received. And no matter what, just remember to say thank you because it is the thought that counts.