Traditional Thank Yous for Thank Yous for Thank Yous

Apparently there is a southern tradition (am I regionalizing this unknowingly?) where you give a friend a gift basket, and the basket must be returned full. I had no idea, really pretty unaware if my mom ever gave her friends or neighbors a basket of goodies. If she ever did in our first house, it would've been a basket of lithium and valium for our one neighbor who we couldn't see past the fence, but she would always make empty threats at us innocent, cherubic children. But, I digress. As I have mentioned before, we have something of a hundred and some odd neighbors. There are condos to the right of our house (when facing the front) and to the left is a one acre lot which has been divided into lots with 4 small-ish houses.
Leering Larry is gone, screaming Mimi has ceased her screaming, and we are on great terms with the rest of the neighbors; including the Greek lady who, through intense trying on both of our parts, I learned is named Chris (or maybe Kris?). One neighbor is incredibly dear, very sweet and is a textile designer who always smiles and says hi. We met soon after she moved in and moments after learning each other's names, we were deep in discussion about floor looms and weaving. She leant me a book about the history of design of American houses and I kept it for way too long. I finally gave it back to her in a basket of garden fresh goodies (figs, red zebras, basil, and I think I stuck a jar of pickles and jam in there, too) and a note apologizing for how long I kept the book. I took it over there and she promised to return the basket. I told her she didn't need to, without explaining that I have 10 of them, they were in the dollar section of Target. I stocked up those cute and very cheap baskets with occasions like this in mind, however, the 3 times I have tried to give them away, everyone has returned them. Come on people, if they're garish, tell me!! I thought they were super cute!
Back to D's lesson in etiquette. She explained this very southern tradition: when a gift in a basket is given, you must fill the basket up with your own goodies and return it. Now, I can see this getting way out of hand, because I gave her the basket as a thank you/I'm sorry for my gaffe and she returned it as a thank you for my thank you.
Do you see where this is going? I think it's something of a supersticion. Or maybe similar to the compulsion one gets when they receive a very touching thank you card in the mail; you want to write a thank you card for the thank you card, and so on. I found the elusive traditional thank you basket yesterday evening, on the sidewalk in front of the gate, with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, a bundle of scupernongs and muscadines, and 2 beautiful little apple pies. Yummy! What a great surprise! What a lovely tradition!
I can, however, imagine a time when the town would whisper in line at the post office, "There's the lady who didn't fill up the basket and return it. . ." And as big as our little suburb gets, that sort of thing is still out there.

1 comment:

mipmup. said...

i'm such an etiquette freak; though not in the south, i'm adopting this tradition. i think it's so sweet! maybe the trick is to give the basket away - far, far away - where they don't know about this custom! ;)