I’m that person whose party gift lands on the table without a tag, requiring the recipient to look around sheepishly as she opens it to figure out the givee, me lifting my hand, apologizing for my lack of decorum with a grand smile, a gentle shrug. A few times, I’ve written my name on the top corner of the bag, practically having to etch the letters, the waxy paper not easily accepting of ink. I’m at least better than my husband, who once showed up to a friend’s wedding with our gift in a floppy gray plastic bag, the bold lettering of Bed, Bath & Beyond viewable from space. My bad for not picking something up early, forgetting I hadn’t purchased a gift as I helped the bride-to-be prep. A hard one but lesson learned – I no longer wanted to be that gifter. Five years ago, when the American Greetings store in the Cerritos Mall closed, I spent about fifteen bucks on 30 or so cards, a purchase meant to support my new habit of being ready to bid fond farewells, best wishes, and the happiest of birthdays to family and friends. My greeting card bonanza was to save me from my chronic lack of preparedness. At 70-90% off, I picked up cards for work birthdays, for congratulations, for condolences, for missing those who were far away (at the time, my oldest daughter was preparing to leave for college in the fall). And I purchased a pair of Valentine’s Day cards for my husband, though we’d never really been the card-swapping type. With the bulk of my collection to be used for work birthdays, I kept the bunch in my office so as to prevent burning a morning break with a trip to Ralph’s for a last minute purchase when someone asked if I’d remembered that it was so-and-so’s birthday. Problem was that I kept forgetting to pull out the non-work cards, leaving me with an obsolete stack of greetings, collecting dust on my bookshelf over the years, including the love cards for my husband. And he didn’t get any of them this year either as it wasn’t until I’d spent five bucks at Target on a new card that I remembered the waning stash at work. But I did indeed send him a card – mailed it from Elm Street to Elm Street, stamp and everything, along with a Valentine’s card to my sweet parents far away in Stockton, and a birthday card for my hound loving UCLA homie, Tami. This lucky bunch can brag that they received full-priced greetings from me. Hopefully, I’ll find a use for my remaining, obscure bargain bin remains before the year is over, even the juvenile one for my youngest niece, who is now 16.
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