Tis’ the season

With the season of gift-giving upon us, I read a lot of posts from knitters who have had unsatisfying  experiences  in the presentation of their knitted items. Perhaps the recipient has not shown the proper amount of enthusiasm upon opening the gift or while they may have thanked the giver properly, the item is never seen again until yard sale season  whereupon it is discovered being sold. In an extreme case or two, I’ve even read of a hand knit item being repurposed as a dog bed.  

All of those scenarios can be heartbreaking for the giver, but I have to say that perhaps knitters are setting themselves up for this kind of disappointment.  If  they have not seriously asked themselves if the intended recipient is the type of person who will appreciate a handmade gift or wouldn’t even know the difference between lovingly handmade socks or a six-pack of tube socks from Walmart,  perhaps the latter is a better idea.

Then there are the givers who won’t let go. They’ll expect to see the scarf or sweater on you every time you meet. Even worse several years down the road they might ask to borrow the gift back from you. That can be enormously treacherous if you don’t know the giver is that sort of person.

Years ago I had a boyfriend whose aunt I just loved and who also thought very highly of me. I thought she was a great lady; creative, interesting, kind, etc..  She kept an interestingly decorated home, cultivated a lovely garden  and was active in a poetry guild in town.  She also loved to paint in acrylics on large canvases.  She liked to do modern depictions in bright primary colors which fit beautifully into her sunny, modern home.

While I loved the fact that she enjoyed painting so much and liked visiting her in her studio, personally her art was not to my taste.  My home was and is filled with antiques and I have very few things on the walls.  Most of the color comes from textiles and I’ve always liked it that way.

Imagine my dismay when  upon my next birthday, she produces a huge gift wrapped canvas-shaped present for me.  I saw it coming at me and my heart fell into my shoes because I knew what it was.  That’s right; the biggest (4′ x 4′ ) and most butt-ugly painting of a tulip you ever saw in hot pinks, reds and greens.

I. Just. Hated it. But I dutifully hung it in my hallway in the home I shared with my boyfriend, so when his Auntie came over she was delighted to see it there.  I just couldn’t get past it’s ugliness so  developed a habit of turning my head and looking at family photos on the other wall whenever I walked by.

Fast forward to three years later; boyfriend and I are no more and I am moving out of the home we shared.  I really wanted to divorce myself of all the material things that reminded me of him,  so feeling that the statute of limitations was up on the painting, I hauled it off to the Goodwill with other boxes of discards.

Time passes, another year or two go by  and I am married to someone else.  Out of the blue  the phone rings and it’s Auntie.  She is having an exhibition at a gallery and would like to borrow back the painting from me to use in her show.

I was a deer caught in the headlights.  I just couldn’t tell her I dumped her painting off at the Goodwill,  so my mind worked quickly.  I told her that it had been badly damaged in my last move  so I regretfully no longer had the painting.

She was clearly very upset and angrily told me that I should have let her know the moment it happened so that she could have at least tried to repair it.  And so, a lovely friend forever thinks poorly of me because I didn’t handle her gift in a way that she thought was befitting it.   I can only imagine what she’d have thought of me if she knew the truth.

I have to think that this is the sort of attachment many of us hook to our knitted items .  Having learned a painful lesson with that painting,  I try to give my gifts without those strings.   If it isn’t received well or is handled poorly,  it’s  no longer my business.

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