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Since You Never Asked: 'Regifting'


Earth Day is fast approaching.  Have you bought your cards and gifts yet?  No matter.  Lake Effect Jonathan West has some thoughts about maybe an underrated part of the recycling equation:

Since you never asked…

…it is perfectly acceptable to rip the wrapping paper off of a present from your Aunt Frannie and then take that homemade tissue box cozy she’s given you and neatly put it in the back of your closet stacked with all the other gifts primed in the pump for you to rewrap and give to some other worthy schmuck.  Er…I mean, good friend.

The PR campaign for recycling everything I can get hands on has worked on me.  I’m fastidious about not wasting stuff. I think it’s possible in another life I was mayor of a Hooverville who was well loved for making stew out of a lace up boot and the butt of a cigar. That kitchen pot that I burned the bottom of pretty badly?  It makes a great composting bin where I toss all my used banana peels. And,  those peels? I load them on a pile of rotting vegetables I keep in my yard so I can spread broken down food waste on my garden and grow a tomato or two. 

Even my household furniture benefits from my tendency towards eeking the most out of everything under my control. My dining room tabletop shines with eye-popping luster because my used jockey shorts are the perfect polishing rag. It’s real circle of life kind of stuff when you make sure the landing spot for your next meal looks real pretty because of your saggy old drawers.

I genuinely like to reuse and repurpose things rather than buying anew. So I have no compunction in taking a gift given to me by one person and redirecting it into use as a present for someone else. The truth of the matter is, I have pretty much everything I need and don't long for more stuff in my life. Why should a perfectly acceptable battery powered salt and pepper grinder be wasted on me when I have friends who are even lazier than me and would enjoy being able to no longer exert any energy to grind basic spices? I say wrap that one up and get it into the hands of someone desperate to avoid building up any muscle tone. My house has all the spice it needs, thank you very much, what with me being married to a gorgeous Italian broad.

Admittedly, you have to be a little careful with taking a gift in and then passing it off to someone else.  The worst possible regifting scenario happened to me, and it did cause a little moment of embarrassment. I had given a friend of mine a set of really classy blinking reindeer antlers several Christmas’ ago.  They were distinct, a real original gift, and something that I knew I would forever associate with my pal.  That is, of course, until the next year when he presented me with a beautifully wrapped gift which, when I opened it, prompted me to say, “Gee this looks just like the pair of flashing reindeer antlers I gave YOU last year.” His face was red, and we had a good laugh over that faux pas, but at the end of the day I was able to make lemonade out of a real lemon.  That re-regift saved me a trip to the store when next year rolled around I was looking for just the perfect gift for my friend.  And all I had to do was reach in the back of my closet.

Jonathan West is a writer, actor, director, and the outgoing Pfister Narrator in Milwaukee, and he brings us a series he calls, “Since You Never Asked.”

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