It’s better to throw away than to receive | VailDaily.com
YOUR AD HERE »

It’s better to throw away than to receive

Jeffrey Bergeron

“Oh, man … an ice-wacker … thanks!”

I don’t remember saying that, but I would not be surprised if I had.

I can only imagine the thought process that went into the purchase of that gift ” “We really should get Jeffrey something for Christmas, but he seems to have everything he needs. Except, maybe, an ice-wacker.”



I’ve packed and unpacked that sterling-silver ice-wacker three times ” each time I’ve moved ” in the last five years.

Yesterday I finally threw it away.



The ice-wacker wasn’t alone. Two picture frames, (made of recycled license plates) a book of Irish limericks, potpourri, a cake knife and a candle shaped like a pine cone were contained in a cloth shopping bag with wooden handles. The bag, obviously purchased in Great Britain, was embroidered on one side with a likeness of Santa Claus and on the other, the Queen of England. (My wife’s parents live part-time in London.)

I suppose now is the time to describe an ice-wacker.



Ours had a sterling-silver handle on one end and an oblong ball on the other.

Between the handle and ball was a bendable metal rod that flexed when you swung the wacker.

The apparatus was designed to break up cubes of ice that had frozen together; I’m guessing it would serve that purpose well, though ours had yet to be used.

I was rummaging through the closet in our guest room looking for an extension cord when I came across the holiday bag. Along with it were few other boxes and bags all containing re-gifting items.

“Re-gifting,” is passing on the gifts that you have been given but don’t want to others who may (or more likely) may not want them.

One of the more bizarre and unwanted items was a Vanuatu, which is a tribal penis wrap. This also warrants explanation.

It seems that the Vanuatu warriors went into battle nearly naked. The wrap is made from woven vines (seems like it would be scratchy) and is designed to contain and protect a warrior’s manhood lest it gets in the way or damaged while fighting. My buddy Doc PJ brought a few back from Vanuatu when he was there providing medical care for the natives.

Much like the ice-wacker, I have never used my man-wrap; I’m not even sure if it is my size.

After a quick perusal of all the bags and boxes I reached the conclusion that I don’t want any of the stuff and furthermore, I know no one that would.

Despite the fact that the rational part of me is certain that no one would want those re-gifted items, the conservationist in me had hopes of finding someone who might. It is for that naive optimism that I’ve been moving them every time I relocate.

That ends today. This holiday season I’m going to make a concerted effort to rid my life, and the life of others, of unwanted belongings.

Certainly this is a challenge during the holidays and will only work as a two pronged approach ” don’t accept, or give, unwanted gifts.

Had I respectfully declined to accept the ice-wacker and man-wrap when they were offered I would not have been burdened to stockpile and transport them until I could find them a home. I don’t mean to appear ungrateful, I appreciate the thought, but this incessant feeling of obligation to give gifts to even those who don’t need anything just clutters our closets and clogs our landfills.

The truth is, all of us would be better served if, rather than give obligatory gifts to those who need absolutely nothing, we give the equivalent cash to charity.

This holiday season I vow to not give or accept any gift unless I’m convinced that gift is needed, will be used and enjoyed. In addition I have begun going through our re-gifting boxes and throwing out, or taking to thrift stores, all the superfluous stuff.

The practice has been both rewarding and cleansing. I’ve created space, removed junk from the stream of consciousness and the cycle of clutter. In the process I’ve even run across another man-wrap ” this one looked to be sized for pygmies.

Perhaps I’ll hold on to that one.

Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at biffbreck@yahoo.com.

Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com.


Support Local Journalism