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” support 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 couple who’d just bought their first home in an Atlanta suburb. Sophia tasked me to deliver her present in person, after the husband, Max, told me he needed legal advice.
I visited Max at his new abode, but I forgot to take the wrapped package with me. You see, whenever the cleaning service descends on our house, Sophia 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 scheduled meeting 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 25 months gathering dust, Sophia’s present resurfaced during her belated effort to reorganize my closet. 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 know some presents have 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 a house, for God’s sake! Janis and Max’ll be able to use your 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 address? Sure!”