Taking gifts back is costly

Receiving Christmas gifts can get expensive. Yes, you read that right. It’s not a misprint. Giving gifts always costs money, but this year getting them wasn’t cheap either.

Don’t get me wrong. It IS the thought that counts, and I appreciate that our healthy, happy family cares enough to send us presents.
But when we started unwrapping gifts Christmas morning, I knew where things were headed.
That’s because we got clothes that we would need to take to Memphis to exchange. Somehow, the word “exchange” translated into paying more for something else.
Let’s see. Jenny opened one of her presents and found a pretty, red top in a flattering size. (Translation: Smaller than Jenny wears.)
Then I opened a box and found a Merino wool sweater from an expensive men’s store, again in a flattering size. In fact, I seldom wear sweaters, no matter what the size. With my waistline, I always think I look like a beach ball in a body stocking.
By the time we had opened the rest of our gifts, Jenny had another blouse and a pair of pants that didn’t fit and I had added a dress shirt to the list. Along with some gift cards we had accumulated, we would need to go to five stores at two different shopping malls, all in Memphis.
First stop, Wolfchase Galleria. Jenny returned the red top to a store whose market is younger women and finally found something that looked nice on her.
The difference in cost: $17.
She went into another store where she had a gift card and found a couple of things she liked. She asked the clerk to check the value of the gift card: $1.89.
Apparently it was the left over from a purchase from a year ago. She put the clothes back on the rack.
Then it was my turn.  I took my dress shirt and a gift card into a men’s store and exchanged the shirt and added a belt. The out-of-pocket cost was $6.53. I was feeling pretty proud of myself.
Next, we made a stop at Oak Court Mall. I trooped into another men’s store with my sweater.
It was a $90 sweater, but the clerk checked the gift receipt. In my family, we don’t buy $90 sweaters, so I was pleased that it had been bought when it was on sale for $40.
The problem started when I looked around and saw that there was nothing for $40 except socks and underwear. The cheapest thing was sport shirts for $87.50. I’ve never paid that much for a sport shirt in my life.
But I was in luck, sort of. The store was having a sale – buy one and get one free. I turned in the sweater and got two shirts for $54, including tax.
I wasn’t feeling so proud of myself now.
Jenny finished her exchanges at Macy’s. By the time we were through, we had spent nearly $100, not including lunch and the gas for the trip to Memphis. It crossed my mind that maybe if we’d skip a few lunches, more of our Christmas gifts would fit.  Fat chance, or is it slim chance?
Golly, it’s a good thing Christmas only comes once a year.

T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone  at 662-534-6321or by e-mail at publisher@newalabanygazette.com.