A Tradition of Giving

A Tradition of Giving

When you go to a dinner party, the proper thing to do is bring a gift. I’m not sure who started this tradition, but I’m assured by my wife that this is indeed a proper tradition that society expects of us. And I want to be part of society. I think.

It’s not that I’m stingy. It’s just that I’ve had my share of gift giving faux pas over the years. Like the time I was told to bring wine to a dinner party. I’m not a wine guy. I can’t tell you which wine goes with fish or pork or spam. I know that some are red and some are white. I know that the stuff that comes out of a box is supposedly not as marvelous as the stuff you can’t pronounce and costs $100 per bottle.

It was armed with such wine drinking ignorance that I brought a bottle of wine to a party of wine drinkers. Technically, I was regifting because someone had brought this bottle to my house for a party. Surely my friend had brought me a nice bottle of wine, I thought. It  will make a great gift for the hostess of the party I was attending. Nope. When I brought it in and handed it to the hostess, she gave me that Chrismas Day sort of “thank you” that really means “what the hell am I going to do with this?”

She went one step further by displaying it to the rest of the attendees that were hunched around the kitchen island sipping their higher quality wine and nibbling on unpronounceable cheeses. They all nodded in unison, and said nothing. Not only was my gift a dud, but someone had given it to me as a gift. Did they know it was dud wine? Needless to say, I never got invited back.

Of course, some dinner parties require you bring a side dish. Once again, I’m hopeless. It’s either my wife saving the day by making something delicious or it’s me buying something pre-made at Marsh. When it comes to side-dishes, mine usually come out looking like something a three-year-old made during art class. And I’m not talking about some talented three-year-old prodigy. I mean the kid whose art makes the parents pray to God every night that he or she shows some ability in math or literature because they will never make a dime churning out drawings of houses that actually look like a ferret stepped on a land mine. Yeah, that bad.

So, what’s a wine challenged, side-dish challenged guy supposed to do to remain in the good graces of society? I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I’ve come up with the answer: pictures. I think we should drop the tradition of bringing things we can eat and start bringing things we can display. Americans should start bringing framed pictures of themselves and hide them in their friends homes. I think it’s a great idea that I hope really takes off. Imagine, throwing a party and the next day finding already framed mementos of your friends that attended. For example, you go to look at that photo of your kids on vacation, and next to it is a picture of one of your party guests wearing a unicorn mask and holding a sign for world peace. Isn’t that better than a bottle of wine? Of course it is!

Carry on, Citizens!
peace on earth good will to all DSC_4315 via photopin (license)

by Jeff

Jeff Stanger is an author and fundraising consultant as well as the answer to several obscure trivia questions. He writes for food and occasionally for spite.
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