A piece on The Bert Show this morning had me in stitches, mostly because I so identified with the story. One of the show’s producers raised the question: how long is too long to delay giving a gift? As he explained, he’d forgotten to deliver a wedding present to one of the show’s cohosts, for a wedding that’d taken place almost a year and half earlier. While the no-longer-newlywed sounded content to accept the late offering, I didn’t hear anyone on the “panel” supporting the idea of a wedding present beyond the generally-accepted one-year mark. I personally think time isn’t nearly as important a factor as circumstance; and I’m pretty sure I know whereof I speak.
About four years ago, my wife purchased a housewarming present for a friend and coworker. Janis and her husband, Max, had just bought their first home together in an Atlanta suburb. I’d met them before and even provided legal advice to Max. When he asked me to drop by so he could discuss another legal issue, I volunteered to take Sophia’s gift along.
I did visit Max at his new home, but I forgot to take the wrapped package with me. As I’ve previously mentioned, whenever the cleaning service descends on our house, Sophia wife makes me clear desktops, countertops and cluttered floor areas so the maids don’t confuse us for slobs. A cleaning day occurred the morning before my date with Max. Per my wife’s instructions, I cleared her housewarming gift off the kitchen counter and temporarily stuck it in my office closet … for two years. Not only did I forget to bring the item to Max’s house, but Sophia also neglected to confirm delivery with me or with her friend.
After a couple of years gathering dust in my closet, I happened on the housewarming present while Sophia assisted me in belatedly reorganizing the space. Boy did she fly off the handle!
I knew I’d screwed up, but I tried to downplay the significance: “What’s the big deal? I understand there’re some presents with definite time-deadlines. You need a baby for a baby gift; birthday gifts obviously carry a ‘soon or never’ rule; and of course there’s the year deadline for wedding presents. But this is house, for God’s sake! Janis and Max’ll be able to use a housewarming gift for as long as they own the place.”
If anything, my observations only increased Sophia’s ire: “That’s just it, Richard! Their house was foreclosed a month ago, and they’re moving back to Ohio to live with Max’s parents till they get back on their feet!”
I made one more attempt to calm my wife: “So? Can’t they use whatever you got them wherever they eventually end up?”
Sarcasm oozed as she responded: “A lawn plaque inscribed with their name and ‘9865 Meadow Lane’ address? Sure!”