The holidays are over. It's time to sort through and maybe even use a few gift certificates! I love to receive gift certificates, especially to favorite retailers. I also appreciate vouchers that can be exchanged for cash. That brings up a question, dear readers. What would you do with a truly hefty gift certificate for something you didn't want; a certificate that couldn't be refunded or exchanged?
A couple of years ago Brad and I received an embarrassingly large gift certificate to a hotel we didn't want to go to, in a small, pretentious town we didn't want to visit. The amount of the gift certificate would have bought one or two big power tools, 3 or 4 days stay on Kona, or a lot of perfume. I have my theories about why anyone would give this kind of a gift, but I'll save those for another time. It would have been extremely impolitic of us to return the certificate to the givers. The sensible thing to do would have been to re-gift or maybe donate the certificate to a fund raising auction, but we felt obligated (don't ask me why) to use it. So begins our story of A Room With a View.
We needed moral support to "enjoy" our gift and enlisted our friends Ellen and Michael to help us spend the entire gift certificate as quickly and painlessly as possible. On a cold afternoon in late December the four of us pulled up to a hotel of sorts on Whidbey Island, WA. After the desk clerk added insult to injury by requesting an additional $70 (!) in tax, we headed to our accommodations.
The suite located above a shop in downtown Langley, has two bedrooms and a single bath. It is tastefully furnished, except for the artwork, which appears to be rejected material from the shop below. One window has a view of the street and parking lot. The other looks out on a deck, rooftops, a tree and a sliver of the Saratoga Passage, complete with what appear to be smoking factories or nuclear power plants. When we arrived, these limited vistas were partially obscured by fingerprints, dog slobber and smeared Windex. Dust bunnies, hair, and crumbs had settled, undisturbed, under the tables. The wine glasses in the otherwise clean kitchen were smudged with lipstick. While the dust and the dirty windows made us feel right at home, we were expecting a lot more for the exorbitant price!
We stowed our gear and went out to explore the town only to discover that 75% of the shops were closed and the small, pebbly area between the water and the town (it couldn’t really be called a beach) was covered by high tide. Fellow tourists were wandering around in the frozen air, looking like bored zombies trying to come up with something to do. After about thirty minutes we returned to a warm fire and settled into three movies, a picnic supper, wine, cheese and dessert. At 11:39 pm there was a heavy thumping sound followed by rock and roll as a 4.8 earthquake rattled the smudged windows and dirty glassware.
The following morning we made our way to the dining room for a complimentary breakfast of lox, hard-boiled eggs, muffins, and underdone quiche. The owner/proprietor stopped by our table on her way in to have breakfast and inquired about our stay. I was about to suggest a capable cleaning service when Ellen, fortuitously, jumped in with a non sequitur comment about the sunny weather. After breakfast we quickly packed and beat a hasty retreat to a local winery.
Our experience in Langley was an adventure, of sorts, in pretension, amplified by unrealized expectations. In 2015 Brad and I received yet another gift certificate to a different expensive hotel in the same town! This time we will ungratefully re-gift it!
Ellen's note: Readers, what is the most unjustifiably overpriced and/or pretentious gift you have ever received? What did you do with it? Leave a comment and be entered in a drawing for an Olympic Orchids (perfumes or plants) gift certificate! The drawing will take lace on Tuesday, January 19.
[All photos are mine/Azar's]
Hi Mom – The only thing I can think of is one time I was given two pairs of those super expensive wool sox. I rarely wear them. Plus Isaac accidentally wore one of the pairs so now they are stretched out and are annoying to wear. Oh well!ReplyDelete
Sounds like sock-puppet time! Do you still have them? Also, you can store things in socks, like gladiolas and dahlia tubers.
Mommy Azar xx and X
Hi Azar! My mother-in-law loves to buy us those mail order steaks. This Christmas she got us steaks and twice baked potatoes. I do cook and feed her precious son. I even buy steak and actually bake potatoes too but I guess she thinks I'm not feeding him well. I'll cook the stuff eventually but in all honesty he'd rather have an Amazon gift card. I shudder to think what she pays for those things.ReplyDelete
How do those steaks and the twice baked potatoes taste? I have never tried them. Never been tempted to. Once I received frozen croissants as a gift. They were really quite good but extremely rich. I've also been the recipient of various fruit baskets. A friend of mine skips the baskets. He just goes to the store and buys fruit and sends it for my birthday :) Tastes great!
What a funny post! My mother went through a phase when she liked buying giant baskets full of random edible things (like rock hard but beautiful pears and "cheese spread"). It was mostly all edible, but still quite overpriced and the leftover straw baskets kind of piled up!ReplyDelete
Yes, I know those pears well! Extremely crunchy on the outside and extremely crunchy on the inside. I save the baskets and use them to collect the sweet and juicy fruits from my own plum and apples trees. Sometimes I even fill these same baskets up with random food and give them to Ellen :) She always re-gifts them back to me ;)
I went through a phase around 12 years ago of loving and collecting giraffes. I do still admire the animal in all its glory, but do not collect them or adorn my home with them any longer. Unbeknownst to my dear old Dad, in all his old man forgetfulness, bought for me just this past Christmas, a black and white polka dot ceramic giraffe. I appreciate his thoughtfulness, but this thing looks like the love child of Cruella Deville and a giraffe Mac Daddy who shall remain nameless.ReplyDelete
Did you save that hybrid giraffe? I suspect that someday it may have a lot of emotional and perhaps even monetary value. You never know! BTW, is it polite to ask what you did with your giraffe collection?
Hi Azar! I will keep the giraffe. I appreciate my Dad for his thoughtfulness and will definitely look back someday and remember that Christmas. I still have my giraffe collection. It is stored in my garage for now.Delete
In a hidden corner of my room I keep two rather extravagant gifts that were bought for me with good intentions. The first is a telescope the second a set of everything needed for net fishing. I have never used either and they seem to exist only to make me feel ashamed... Thing is I'm touched by both gifts. I wanted a telescope when I was a child and I'm touched that my dad remembered that over 10 years later when he finally could afford one. And I wanted to go net fishing with my aunt and I'm touched that she would go as far as to buy me my own net and all the other stuff needed, but really I just wanted to try it, not start net fishing myself...ReplyDelete
Thank you for stopping by, entering the draw and sharing your un-used gifts! I would definitely hold on to them. It is amazing when the important people in or lives remember what we asked for years ago. Not only did these gifts touch your heart but, in a few years time, you might (like me) find yourself in your second childhood and have a sudden urge to stargaze or go fishing!
I use to work as teacher at school. kids in my class were mostly from children's home, that was very tough time and I was too young and experienced for such big responsibility. I tried to do my best. In the end of the school year kids gave me a present - the most expensive and beautiful thing they could buy for me - moose made from swarovski crystals. I did not know should I laugh or cry when they gave it to me. This moose "decorates" shelf with my other achievements in my mother's apartment.ReplyDelete
What a sweet gift that was, Kseniya! Definitely a gift from the heart. I think I've seen these Swarovski crystal moose and yes, they ARE very expensive, especially for children to purchase. It is wonderful that it found a home with your mother.Delete
Knowing that people are giving something they value because they love and appreciate you makes it difficult NOT to use or keep a strange and expensive gift!
It's so much fun reading everyone's comments about the strange gifts they've received, many with great sentimental value. Thanks to all who have commented! You are entered in the drawing.ReplyDelete
Several years ago my boyfriend at the time purchased what I'm sure was a very expensive Majolica vase. The thing was painted red, green, orange and purple in the overwrought Victorian style. It was not my taste at all. I was actually visually offended by it. I thanked him, stored in the closet and broke up with him a few months later. I should have given him the vase as a parting gift!ReplyDelete
HA! Anne! What a great story. Where is the vase now? Sounds like it would be a great candidate for Ruby Lane, Etsy or E-bay.Delete
I pawned it off on a relative some time ago. Apparently there are people who appreciate that sort of thing!Delete
I have a brother who loves all technological novelties and with whom I often discuss the interest of this brand (you know with apple ...) that constantly launches new phones, tablets quite expensive (more expensive in Europe than in the US). He often tries to show me the value of these things that I consider gadgets and I can not pretend to be interested in it.ReplyDelete
In short, of course happens my birthday and I find myself at the restaurant in front of everyone with in hands the gift, the latest tablet (with apple).
And more than usual for my anniversary, I took me more than a year to spend gift vouchers at the shop I had to go exchange my gift. Sometimes people do you hate their generosity.
I'm so happy to find another person on the planet who thinks that the latest technological wonders are nothing more than expensive gadgets! I still use my old flip phone and will continue to do so until it dies.
Fortunately you were able to exchange the tablet! Sometimes I wonder if the generosity of these well meaning gift givers is prompted by a desire for others to share their addiction?
I was gifted a set of "bling" earbuds. At first I thought they were decorated with rhinestones-kind of tacky-but fine. No, it turns out they were encrusted with semi-precious stones: sapphires, peridot, tanzanite, etc. I have a tendency to lose things like earbuds, so there's no way I would ever use these. It currently serves as an interesting conversation piece.ReplyDelete
Whoah! Triniti. Precious stone earbuds. Definitely a conversation piece! When the novelty wears off perhaps you could convert them to a pair of "over the top" earrings?Delete