It happens twice a year in Israel: with Passover and Rosh Hashanah it is a custom to send presents to business relations. That can be anything from bottles of wine, a tray of fruit, sweets to bags and radios.
It sounds very nice, but in fact: it is a waste of money. Everyone sends everyone more or less the same stuff and although it is a healthy habit for our economy, I personally see it as something unnecessary. Many times I have given most of the presents I received, to employees. How much can one take home, anyway?
This year I came up with a genius idea: I would beat the system. Together with some assistants I had a meeting only on this subject, because twice a year the 'commission for holidays and culture' (otherwise known as my secretary) needed to choose the presents.
But I had an idea: we delay the shipment of the presents with two weeks. By that time we would have received a lot of presents. We make a list of who sent us what and we send a free present back from this stock! Fantastic idea! Israeli recycling!
And so we started. Some weeks ago the presents started to arrive: boxes of chocolate, plates with apples and honey (how original!), candies and bottles of wine. The meeting room was turned into a temporary storage room. Employees took a break just to have a look at all the presents. I was playing with the idea to sell entry tickets to the meeting room, but my secretary made it very clear there is a limit to Dutch Stinginess (where do people get that silly idea?).
Every present got a small memo, so we could remember who sent it. The cellophane wrappings around the presents were not opened, so the presents remained authentic. We also made a list to whom we should send presents. Cards with "Hag Samei'ach" were bought and I made personal notes on each of them, before we stuck them on the presents. Genius or not?
Time came to send the presents. Hand delivered by our driver, of course. A day later the phone calls started to come in. Not anyone thanking us. Many sarcastic remarks on Dutch Stinginess. I was wondering who the traitor amongst us may be, who could be so cruel and tell our clients of our secret. Pretty soon it became apparent that I was the guilty one.
In most of the presents, under the cellophane wrappings, were cards from the clients who sent us the presents originally…..
I have instructed my secretary to start purchasing the presents for Passover. One never knows….
© Simon Soesan