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    The Art of Recycling Gifts

    This idea actually comes to you from my Mom, Marge Spira. She’s never been able to throw anything out. Subsequently, she has a plethora of gifts that now can be "recycled."

    The whole recycling thing began between my Mom and her eldest brother, Uncle Erry. For years they traded back and forth this tacky, wooden sign that said "Shalom." Mom tells me she bought it from a co-worker who made it from pieces of wood for $12-then thought to give to Uncle Erry because she didn’t like it that much. It went back and forth from Cleveland to Detroit several times. Each time the sign was left secretly after a visit to be found as a joke after they left each other’s house. Then one time my Mom gave it to Herman and I and we mailed it wrapped as a gift to Uncle Erry and Aunt Renee in Detroit. We put a note on the back of the box saying, "Here’s a little bit of Caroga Lake cheer."

    Mom tells me Uncle Erry and Aunt Renee were overcome with fits of laughter when they opened it. After that, Mom tells me it "wound up in my suitcase after a visit to Detroit. Each time we would specifically NOT tell each other when we found it so the other would never know and would not expect it at the other house. For $12 we had $100 dollars worth of fun."

    Mom has now branched out and taken recycling gifts to a new level. When Herman and I showed up this past Thanksgiving, since Hanukkah was the day after this year, we had brought the traditional eight days of Hanukkah gifts for her.

    Not to be outdone, she went to her "locker room" in search of gifts for us. We actually wound up with some neat stuff. But in keeping with Mom’s tradition, I’m going to recycle one gift. But I’ve already told the recipient that it’s recycled. And I’ve already told Mom I’m re-recycling it.

    So Mom has taught me some good shopping sense. Well, I mean all about recycled shopping gifts. For instance, how about all those year end gift calendars you get? You can’t possibly use them all, why not pass them on? And all those watch-a-ma-call-it’s. Such as, one of the things my Mom gave us this time is something that’s a static stick pad for your car dash and holds eye glass cases, pens and such so they don’t slide off the dash. She also gave me a wadded up T-shirt in the shape of a house that was a realtor type gift. Sorry, Mom, that one won’t make it into my drawer or anyone else’s.

    Each item we got actually has a use. There’s the knock-off Montblanc $400 pen that she got for $5 to $10, I can’t remember which. A box of Hanukkah candles, which ironically I got her some as well. I also bought her a new Hanukkah menorah. Her response was, "You didn’t have to do that. Mine’s in the locker room." After which we all dissolved into laughter. Saying something is in the locker room is like saying, "I’m going to California to get rich and famous." It’s very unlikely to ever be "discovered" there.

    "Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake here in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com"