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'I already have this': Tips for returning presents

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By Alex Smith

I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was a disquietingly candid 11-year-old at my cousins’ home in New Jersey for Christmas dinner. Still buzzing from the present-opening festivities of that morning, I was positively vibrating in anticipation of my next, richly undeserved gift. Just before our sumptuous turkey dinner, my Aunt Lesea gathered my sister and myself into her living room and handed a garishly wrapped box to each of us. True to form, I wasted little time in opening mine in a frenzied blur of shredded wrapping paper to reveal a brand-new, lovably menacing Baron Karza  figure, the scourge of the Micronauts (essentially a Darth Vader rip-off made out of black plastic and magnets … identical to the one I’d been given that very morning by my parents). “I already have this,” I announced in a needlessly high-volume fashion. Adding insult to injury, I ran outside to the backseat of our car to get my first Baron Karza to show Aunt Lesea … like she needed the confirmation. It was not a moment that my mother remembers fondly.

Let’s face it, in the festive frenzy of holiday gift exchanging, certain kids can sometimes get caught up in the excitement and forget their manners (witness the now-legendary viral video clip of the little lad whose parents had the audacity to give him a book for Christmas). That’s not an excuse, but simply a fact. Whenever I see Aunt Lesea now, I still feel compelled to apologize for my behavior that Christmas… and I’m now 43.

I ended up keeping my second Baron Karza, as it turned out. Given that his limbs were held together with magnets, having two meant I could build all sorts of freakish, mutated incarnations of the evil space lord with which to torment the insufferably goody-goody Micronauts. But nine times out of 10, the type of scenario detailed above ends up with someone having to return their gift, which is not always an easy affair, even in the age of digital convenience. For exhausted and frazzled parents who are now grappling with that very task, click here for some handy tips and things to remember when you’re planning on returning some presents.

Parents, do you have any gift mishap or present-returning horror stories to tell? Share your stories in the comment section.