A Valentine's Day cautionary tale

(this was supposed to be published in December, but then life got very complicated... the sentiment still holds, so here it is)

Recently I read this article in WaPo about how The Donald regifted even monogrammed items, even those given to him by his son. Forget who this is about, focus on the idea of "regifting" and the pain (or amusement) it can cause.

There are many moments when we're supposed to give a gift: an engagement, a wedding, a birth, birthdays, Valentine's Day, Christmas/Hanukkah, and many more.  Teachers get gifts before Winter Break and before Summer Break, usually from advisees or grateful students (or parents).

One year, a student at one of my schools gave me a gift.  This student, and a sibling and their mother, had become friends of mine (we're still in touch nearly 20 years later) and it was a lovely gesture.  Or so I thought.  Of course, you don't unwrap the gift right there in front of the student, you smile and say "thank you" and wait until later, right?  Which is what I did. 

And when I unwrapped the gift, there was a gift tag on it.  From this student's uncle to the mother. 

Because we were friends, the next time I saw the mother I mentioned the gift - it was so typical of this student that that's what they'd have done, I was amused more than angry, but also, what if she'd been looking for that gift?  Or worse, if the uncle had asked about it?  Her response was a chuckle, a sigh, and an "Ohhhh, [name]... No, I didn't know about this."  She'd suggested a number of items as a gift and this had been near them, but it wouldn't be a problem if I either wanted to keep it or give it back.  I kept it as a reminder of both this family and the dangers of regifting.

As Valentine's Day approaches, do your due diligence if you're regifting: take off any tags, and make sure you weren't given the gift by the person you're giving it to (or that it wasn't given by someone who will see you've regifted it and be offended).


Maybe it's me

I've been told by some that I can be too sensitive, that I read too much into things. So perhaps this is one of those time, that what I'm seeing isn't really there.  You be the judge.

Let's forget that those heartwarming "do a DNA test with your mother/father and get closer as a family" ads on tv are really painful to those who have lost a parent or who are adopted and would have no biological family with whom to share the results.  And let's forget all the issues around finding out that your family may not, biologically, be your family after all.

What I'm upset about is this recent ad, where a man discovers that his family is not, in fact, Italian.

 Instead it's.... Eastern European.  Not as specific as Italian, just generic "Eastern European".  And the tone in which 'Katherine' says Eastern European is one of disgust.

So here's my problem.  I (and virtually all my family) are "Eastern European" - Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania and Russia all count as the Old Country for them.  There's a word after Eastern European that I didn't add, but is added by Ancestry: Jewish.

Ancestry.com is based in Utah.  Owned by Mormons.  Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive (again).  You tell me.


Credulity, strained

There are things we all did in high school or college we look back on with some dismay.  Had I gone immediately from college to graduate school, there probably would be more such things, as I suppose there are for those friends of mine who did make that choice. 

Between from seventh grade through college graduation, I appeared in ten yearbooks (two of which I got to design my page and had responsibility for the photos on those pages).  As a faculty member, I've appeared in a further 23 yearbooks.  And even for those where I had little or no control over where my picture was placed, I looked at the yearbook.  While I might have missed one or two "candid" shots in which I appeared, I know what my "official" picture (or page) looked like. 

It's a rare person who doesn't, no matter how much they might not like what the photo looked like or where it was placed. 

It's an even rarer politician who isn't incredibly aware of anything that might - in this day and age, if not back when the picture was taken and placed - pose a problem.

So when the medical school yearbook photo of the Governor of Virginia showing a person in blackface and a person in a KKK robe appeared, I didn't believe for a second that he didn't know that the photo would some day surface.  And yesterday, on Twitter, came this:

I call BS.

There is no way he wasn't aware that the photo was on his yearbook page.  And if it was, as he claims, put on the page in error, and even if he didn't purchase that yearbook (another claim) surely someone on his campaign staff or a friend from medical school would have told him that the photo was out there.

I'm reminded of another  yearbook recently in the news, that of our newest member of the Supreme Court.  Just as with those explanations, I'm not buying the explanations/excuses.

Are you?