I was teaching kindergarten in the late 1970s, and on the last day of school before the Christmas holidays, many of the children arrived with presents. The little ones were eager, so I opened the gifts with them.
A friendly 5-year-old named Ken offered an oddly shaped package and stood close as I peeled away the wrapping. Underneath the paper was a plastic container with a spinning gizmo in the lid that would mix drinks when shaken. I told Ken it was a thoughtful gift and thanked him.
"That's okay," he responded after a moment's thought. "Mom said she never uses it anyway."
The practice of "regifting" began long before the term became trendy. And usually people who wrapped up items they didn't want or need were more discreet than sweet little Ken about the gift being recycled. As long as the item is in pristine condition, it can make an excellent gift for someone else — provided you remove any notes from the original giver.
Some years back my friend Patty received a gift that came with more information than she wanted. Her friend Marilyn gave her a set of beautiful candles, perfect for setting the tone for a romantic evening. Unpacking the candles, Patty saw a card underneath, obviously written on the first go-around of giving. The message: "Marilyn, Hope you and Frank enjoy these candles (wink! wink!)"
Patty was confused. Marilyn was married to a man named Bill. (Turns out Frank was her man on the side — and ultimately both relationships soured.)
Lesson learned: Leave no personal message cards behind.
Regifted items should also be checked to ensure they're in new order. I still remember a heavy duty flashlight a coworker once gave to me as a gift. When it didn't turn on, I opened the battery compartment and discovered a mess of corrosion and rust around the batteries, which had obviously been there awhile.
But there are times when regifted items can be the perfect present for someone, especially if their backstory adds to the meaning of the gift.
Some years ago, when I was a reading specialist for Pasco schools, Marti Meacher from district staff development asked if I could fill in suddenly for a workshop trainer. When I arrived, I found a beautiful apple basket filled with teaching items. Marti explained the basket had come to her from her mother-in-law, and while she loved it, she was passing it on to me. We'd exchanged many stories over the years, and she felt I would appreciate the basket and help her start its journey. I was touched. She asked that somewhere down the road I pass it on to someone special with the story of where it began in June 1986.
When my little granddaughters Josephine and Lucy came along, the basket was perfect for this happy Grandma to fill with bibs, socks and other baby items. One quick reach and the basket supplies what I need.
I took a picture of the baby basket and sent it to Marti. She found its use, for now, just perfect.