Jewish World Review Jan. 6, 2004 / 12 Teves, 5764

Mike Barnicle

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Consumer Reports

Some timely tips on targeted re-gifting | Now that Martha Stewart is temporarily out of pocket and unable to provide the kind of helpful holiday hints that allow us to get through the annual end-of-the-year nightmare with a measure of peace, I have - as a public service - decided to step up to the plate with a nifty idea for all. It's also politically correct, too, because anyone can use it; doesn't matter if you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Ramadan or Kwanzaa or simply assemble the party hats to blow out seasonal birthday candles for J. Edgar Hoover, Humphrey Bogart, Lebron James or Jimmy Buffet.

I have employed my useful idea for decades. It works like a charm. It's called re-gifting. Here's how it goes: Sort through any stupid or duplicate presents you got in the past few days and give them to someone else.

I began doing it 20 years ago when I got a couple of 32-ounce, 33-inch Louisville Slugger bats for Christmas. Knowing I could swing only one at a time, I decided to give the extra bat to someone else. This allowed me to save a few bucks as well as have the recipient think nice thoughts about me.

I gave the extra bat to my mother. Turns out it was a mistake because Ma had hung up the spikes years earlier. Still, I figured, it's the thought that counts, and I could sense that if I gave more consideration to the turnaround process involved in re-gifting that, as Martha would say, it's a good thing.

However, there are some basic rules: Don't forget to tear off the original card and replace it with one you've signed. And rewrap the re-gift. It's a nice touch.

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And don't worry about who gets what. It doesn't matter. Plus, there's always more than enough to go around. For example, this year, in addition to getting enough socks and handkerchiefs to supply the 1st Infantry Division in Baghdad, I received some books and DVDs I'd already purchased for myself.

One of the books was "Cold Mountain," a novel that won many big literary prizes despite being written with a trowel. It's one of those books that got so much acclaim, my inability to get through the first paragraph made me feel inadequate, even stupid, until others reported lapsing into a coma after page 2.

I decided to re-gift John Kerry with my extra copy of "Cold Mountain." Plus, I am going to throw in the DVD "Four Weddings and a Funeral" for the poor guy, even though he's only been married twice and it appears services will be held for his candidacy in New Hampshire at the end of this month. "Titanic" is also a possibility for Kerry, produced at a cost of millions and it ends under water.

How about sending Howard Dean gift-wrapped copies of "Anger Management" and "Little Big Man." Ship those out to Iowa along with "Field of Dreams" addressed to Dick Gephardt.

Re-gifting can be bipartisan, too. Tell me Vice President Cheney wouldn't enjoy passing the popcorn and watching this double bill as he prepares to publicly explain his role in going to war with Iraq: "True Lies" and "Wag the Dog." And why not put "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Wayne's World" in the same box, marked to the attention of President Bush.

Joseph Lieberman? "The Long Goodbye." Give Al Sharpton "Trading Places" as well as "A Bronx Tale." And John Edwards gets that extra copy of "Shampoo."

It's called re-gifting. And it's a beautiful thing.

JWR contributor Mike Barnicle is a columnist for the New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.


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