What you need to know:
- In such instances, good manners demand that you accept the gift with false delight even though you know you will never put it to use.
- Some people even found it hard to part with them, and would continue displaying calendars that expired 10 years before.
This January, I received a gift I hadn’t got in a long time — a calendar.
Not a desk calendar, mind you, a full-blown calendar. A real calendar.
It was akin to going down memory lane, and to tell the truth, even as I politely said ‘thank you’, I had no idea what to do with it because people no longer hang calendars in their homes.
To make matters worse, the bulky relic featured wedding photos of a couple I did not know, it turned out that the couple’s children had had the calendars made to commemorate their parents’ 30th wedding anniversary.
Such a sweet sentiment, but unfortunately, I couldn’t hang it at home, more so because it featured photographs of people I didn’t know.
I also couldn’t give it away, after all. If I couldn’t hang it in my house, why would I expect someone else to?
I also just couldn’t immediately throw it out with the trash or use it to light the jiko because that would have been impolite even though the giver would never have known.
True, I could have used it to cover my children’s books like I did mine back in the day, but their school insists on ‘proper’ book covers…
I therefore ended up storing it in a drawer that is rarely opened, waiting for an appropriate time to take it out with the trash even though I haven’t yet figured out when this appropriate time is.
My dilemma brought to mind other times when I have received a gift I was not particularly taken with.
In such instances, good manners demand that you accept the gift with false delight even though you know you will never put it to use.
You could give it out but that feels like a form of betrayal, especially if the present came from someone who is close to you.
This probably explains why I still have a dress that I got for my 20th birthday, many, many, many years ago.
I wore it just once, (to please the giver) and even though I knew I would never wear it again; I am yet to bring myself to give it away. Never mind that it no longer fits, and will never fit.
Let’s be honest, how many unusable gifts are you still holding onto because they were given to you by your parent, spouse, sibling, boyfriend or girlfriend?
But I was talking about calendars. There was a time when they were treasured, when every home in Kenya had one hanging on the most prominent spot in the living room.
Some people even found it hard to part with them, and would continue displaying calendars that expired 10 years before.
When I started working several years ago, I remember my relatives calling me to ask for a calendar between December and January (now you have a fairly good idea how old I am …) because then, every company worth its salt produced calendars, which they would gift their clients and employees.
And then the mobile phone made a grand entrance, effectively killing the once mighty calendar because, among many other features, it had a calendar.
Also, homeowners were becoming more fashion-conscious, therefore a calendar with photos of tractors and barbed wire was no longer aesthetically appealing, its place taken by an expensive wall-painting or piece of art.
To be fair to the calendar though, there are homes where it is still valued, where it is still considered a decor item.
Are you a calendar lover and would like one of a happy-looking elderly couple celebrating 30 years of marriage?
The writer is Editor, Society & Magazines, Daily Nation; [email protected]; @cnjerius