What is the proper etiquette when receiving disappointing, disastrous, or even frightening Christmas gifts? Are you able to maintain politeness despite feeling otherwise?
In our family, some are more successful than others at hiding their true feelings. Some wear every emotion clearly and unmistakably on their faces. And I sometimes wonder if we are we more considerate to acquaintances than we are to our families?
I remember one Christmas when, try as I might, I didn't do a very good job of hiding my disappointment over a gift. It was many years ago, when my children were very small. They had gone shopping with their dad to buy mom a Christmas present. We were incredibly short on funds so any purchased gift was a real sacrifice.
I was very excited at the prospect of this gift, especially when I saw the department store box. New clothes! I was sure of it, and had been craving something to enliven my tired, sparse wardrobe.
Old. Lady. Clothes! (and I wasn't an old lady then!) Oh my stars. Really? I'm not sure who they thought they were buying for. My heart just sank. Ohhhhhh, how could I try and feign joy and delight when truly what I felt was disbelief and horror? I tried. I really did.
I know I didn't even muster up a tiny squeal of false delight. What a rotten person I was. I still feel terrible about showing my true disappointment when I knew how proud my family was of their gift for their mother. What should have I done? Politely smiled and put it away in the back of my closet? We couldn't afford to do that.
What did I do? I returned it to the store and replaced the gift with my choices from the year-end clearance sale, all the while knowing that my selfishness and pride had wounded some hearts that day, hearts that I loved and cared for more than any others.
I wish I could have handled the situation with more grace. I wish I would have been more sensitive to my family's feelings, knowing how excited they were to give.
I wish they hadn't picked out such ugly clothes.