Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
What do you do when you are given not just one but two first, and you like
neither of them? A good friend asked me to read a book with her that I have zero
interest in (it is non-fiction, about topics I don’t care about, and is a small-print
paperback unfit for my aging eyes). She also gave me a piece of pottery heavy
enough to serve as a boat anchor, that I am serious considering using as a
doorstop. She kept asking if I liked them, saying none of her other friends like her
gifts, so what was I to do? I was more honest about the book, and said how
much I liked the art. I’m in divesting mode, not acquiring mode. Now what?
Dear Weighted Down:
It’s awkward to reject a gift outright, especially when the giver is sitting there
asking you directly. Demurring on the book was a wise choice, as time is
especially precious as we age. I would wait a few weeks, but before the next time
you see her, return the book and say you simply don’t have the time to devote to
it. Tell her that you’re willing to co-read a book and talk about it, but you want it to
be a book you both agree on.
Re the pottery, keep it displayed for a while when she is around so she sees that
you value it. Then you can “disappear” it quietly. If she notices you can say that a
dear friend was visiting and loved it on sight, and asked if you would give it to her
for her birthday. It is what we used to call a white lie, which is technically a lie, but
will protect your friend’s feelings. Before the next gift-giving occasional talk about
your desire to downsize, and say you’re asking friends to pledge experiences,
not gifts, as time goes on.