The worst gift ever

Via Flickr user nettsu.

Via Flickr user nettsu.

It may sound ungrateful, but everyone can think of the worst present they have ever received.

Don’t lie. It’s true.

Before I tell you what my most terrible gift ever is, I want to discuss what qualifies as a “worst present.” It isn’t just an object that is ugly or useless or you don’t want. A worst present has one or all of these attributes coupled with the fact that the giver did not care about the receiver.

Rule out that two-sizes-too-big orange sweater from grandma. She gave it to you out of love.

A present is meant to be a form of giving where you draw on the qualities of the receiver. It’s an expression of your relationship with that person. It doesn’t need to be expensive. It just needs to show that you thought of the receiver.

But there are times — such as the winter holidays, weddings, and baby showers — where we are pigeonholed into giving a present to someone we may not know well. In that instance, it’s acceptable to give a gift card to Target.

Then there are the people who don’t care. They want to spend as little money as possible, and they are giving you something purely because they have to. That’s when the situation escalates into worst gift territory.

Which brings us to my worst present. For my bat mitzvah when I was 12, a classmate who I barely talked to gave me a puzzle set. It was a set where you connect a puzzle piece that features a picture of an animal to a corresponding piece with a fact about that animal.

Remember that I was 12 and having my bat mitzvah, and this puzzle was suitable for an 8-year-old at his birthday party.

The box had also had a hole in it from being kicked in.

My worst present just goes to show that it’s the thought that counts. After all, I could tell exactly how much this classmate thought of me: just enough for one of his parents to rummage through a closet the night before the event.

What was your worst gift? Why?

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