Predictable presents: Annual hippos, rabbits & Lego Starships become too much

As she sat in the audience watching a play, she suddenly had an unsettling thought, “Oh my goodness, that’s going to be me.”

On stage was a man whose entire house was covered with various rabbit items. This was when second-grade teacher Jane Gillette realized that she had a problem.

She couldn’t stand it anymore. The rabbits had to stop.

It all started with a nice, aesthetically pleasing painting of rabbits as a gift from her parents. However, when Gillette’s mother-in-law discovered that Gillette liked the painting, she made a mental note.

That’s when the rabbits started hopping in.

Gillette’s mother-in-law gave her rabbit napkin rings, ornaments, various knickknacks, and a jewelry box with a rabbit on top, to name only a few.

“They started out as lovely gifts, but then they just got to be too much,” Gillette said.

Luckily the madness eventually came to an end.

She was walking through a shop one day when her mother-in-law pointed out a soup tureen shaped like a rabbit and suggested that Gillette might like it.

“It was ghastly,” Gillette said as she described the tureen.  “It looked like a live rabbit that you would set in the middle of your table and serve soup from.”

She proceeded to tell her mother-in-law her true feelings about the dish, unaware that her mother-in-law already had bought it for her that morning.

Suffice it to say, Gillette did not receive the dish—or any other rabbit items—from then on.

Stuck in a similar situation, teacher Patricia Fels went through a period of receiving hippopotamuses as gifts.

It started when her college boyfriend gave her a stuffed hippo for Christmas.

That following Easter Fels’s aunt and uncle came to visit, saw the hippo and made a dangerous assumption: she must love hippos.

Over the years Fels received 20-30 glass, china, clay and stuffed hippos. It seemed that every time her aunt and uncle (and eventually the rest of her extended family) saw something hippo related, they bought it for her.

“It got to the point where I sort of did connect myself with hippos, but it still got to be too much,” Fels said.

For some, however, the passion is real in the beginning. Junior Eric Hilton began collecting and assembling Legos when he was in second grade. Every birthday or Christmas since he has gotten the same thing: Legos.

Beyond the boxes of unassembled Legos, Hilton has assembled Star Wars ships, a Hogwarts castle, Bionicles, a Batmobile and an Eiffel tower built out of over 3000 pieces.

Of course like many children, he eventually outgrew the interest, but the Legos keep coming.

“My parents still give them to me even though I tell them every year not to,” Hilton said. “I have like 10 boxes of them in my bedroom.”

Senior Jacob Frankel has a similar problem. When he was 10 years old, Frankel received a Botswanian stamp collection.

“When I got my hands on that first stamp collection, it was awesome. Then I bought a second stamp collection and I started organizing the two,” Frankel said.

Over the years he has continued to receive stamps from family and friends even though his interests have diverged away from stamp collecting.

Some people however, appreciate the gifts as a way to add to an existing collection.

For example, Hannah Frank, accounts payable and purchasing, collects butterflies and skulls.

Frank has been collecting butterflies since she was a little girl, when she started collecting them with her grandma.

“(Butterflies) represent a free thing to me,” Frank said.

She then started collecting skulls in her teen years.

“I’ve always been a punk rock kind of girl,” Frank said.

Over the years she has collected hundreds of skulls and butterflies. Some of these include ornaments, earrings, pillows, picture frames and candles. She even has a tattoo of a butterfly and a skull together on her forearm.

However, this holiday season many will continue to struggle with the problem of continuously receiving unwanted gifts.

In an article in The New Yorker, humorist David Sedaris examines this interesting phenomenon through his experience with owls.

“This is what happens when you tell people you like something. Nothing (will) stem the tide of crap.”

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