Regifting: personal (and meteorological) reflections on Christmas Day 2023.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” – John 3:16 NIV

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” – Luke 2:8-11 NIV

Christmas and the holiday season hold complex and different meanings and emotions for each of us – some cultural, some intensely personal. This should be no reason for surprise. This time of year sees an amalgam of holidays celebrating different histories, faiths, traditions and ends such as Hannukah and Kwanzaa, ancient pagan celebrations noting the winter solstice, and more. One worldwide feature today is a period of gift exchange, mirroring God’s gift of His Son (as recounted in the above verses from the Bible).

Such gift exchange is vulnerable to commercial excess, as is lamented annually. And gifts often miss their target; they fail to satisfy a longing or wish of the recipient. As a result, regifting – giving a gift received to someone else – is a thing.

But regifting is not a simple thing. It’s not only complicated but fraught. There are many ways it can go wrong and can damager the re-gifter’s relationships with both the giver of the original gift and the recipients. As a result, the internet is chock-a-block full of lists of do’s and don’ts. A sample list, just one of many (the original article gives a rationale for each element):

  • Regift only if the item is in its original packaging with all of its parts.
  • Don’t regift a handmade gift.
  • Avoid regifting within the same circle.
  • Only regift if the item is new.
  • Make sure there are no monograms or hidden notes.
  • Regift only if you know the recipient would like it.
  • Elevate the presentation.
  • Be upfront with the people close to you.
  • Tread carefully if questioned about a regift’s origins.
  • …(the list goes on)

Hmm. Maybe it’s just me, but the common theme of these suggests that while you may need to regift something or want to justify the practice, it’s not your best idea. If possible you should try to avoid simple mistakes that reveal what you’ve done, especially to the original gifter and the ultimate recipient.

Fearing that something you contemplate doing might come to light? Usually, that warning sign is telling you to go in a different direction.

But reflect on that early gift of love recounted in those Bible verses. It was a gift of love itself (caring, putting another’s interests and needs first, even at the expense of some sacrifice). It was not a gift of a necktie, or a crazy sweater, or even gold, frankincense and myrrh. The magic, the secret sauce, the unique feature of that gift of love was that it was meant to be regifted. The Giver not only wouldn’t mind, but might take it amiss if the recipient held on to that love, keeping it only for themselves. Furthermore, the supply of that love wasn’t limited to some small bottle, or carton. Attempting to give that love away has only increased the total supply. So for this particular gift, some of those proscriptions on regifting should be tossed.

Curiously, some of the regifting cautions remain. In a 21st century world where arguably the greatest need is for more love, most people are happy to accept the gift, whatever the source. But a few, if told or otherwise made aware that they’re receiving love in whole or in part because the giver has first been given that love by a Higher Power of whatever sort, or even through a chain of human giftgivers that can be ultimately traced back to such a Higher Power, may feel and express anger or resentment – and refuse to accept it, let alone pay it forward.

This is a great tragedy, but one that must be respected. In such instances, instead of celebrating the Ultimate Source of the gift, it’s important, even vital (since the human need for love is universal (and really, insatiable as well) to hide the fact of regifting, as best we can.

Anyway, this is my best opportunity to thank all of you, and all my friends and family, and so many strangers, for all the love you’ve given and/or regifted to me and my family over this past year. Even more importantly, it’s a chance to thank you for sharing even more copious quantities of love to so many others around you. That love is holding things together as the world goes through a difficult patch.

Please persevere in regifting that love you’ve been gifted.


A final thought – this about public weather, water and climate services. With the limited exception of a few services provided privately to a small number of paying customers, the Weather Enterprise provides information, warnings, outlooks, advisories and other services that are so-called public goods. They are both that non-excludable and non-rivalrous. Use by one person neither prevents access by other people, nor does it reduce availability to others. In that sense, they too are meant to be re-gifted. Regifting not only doesn’t diminish the supply but also magnifies the value – saving lives, reducing injury, protecting property.

Weather forecasts and services? Gifts that are always in season, that are always welcome, and that can always be re-gifted, throughout the year.

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