We invited friends for dinner. They provide a side dish which was a big hit. I put the two tablespoons worth of their leftover dish in my fridge. At the end of the evening; my friend took her dish from the fridge, said, “Goodbye,” and left. My family and I were puzzled by her behavior as we never had a guest take back what they brought. Was she mad at us? Did we do something to offend her? Were two tablespoons of leftover broccoli worth being called an ‘Indian giver?’ because that’s what she was; somebody who gives you something and then takes it back is an Indian giver. Why, if I’m a dinner guest and make something to bring, I make extra and keep it at home. I don’t bring it to the dinner and take home the leftovers, whether it’s two or twenty-two tablespoons. Then again, this was the same neighbor who harassed me until I returned the ketchup bottle I borrowed from her.

When my husband and I married we were given a set of steak knives, by people who years later took them back. Turns out they knew someone who was setting up his own place and in need of knives. They could have bought him a new set of knives, but no, they took back two of the six knives they gave us. That meant one of the five people in my family no longer had a knife to call their own. Meanwhile, the bachelor, who lived alone, had two knives. It was great if he was a two-fisted eater. This was an ‘Indian giver’ in its most brazen form. But, how do you handle such a person? Maybe I’ll invite my ‘Indian givers’ over for dinner. I’ll serve steak. Pity. I won’t have enough knives.

3 Responses to “Give it Back”

  • Brenda King says:

    In my family and community, it is a given that if someone takes food to a meal, they have the rights to their own leftovers. Often, at least in my family, the person bringing the dish will divide the leftovers among the rest of us, but not always. I never thought of this practice as being an “Indian giver” and would in fact view a hostess who kept all of my leftover cake for herself as incredibly rude.

    The knives are another story. I would be speechless if someone asked me to return the wedding gift they gave.

  • rita says:

    Bringing a covered dish to an event is half the fun. Usually you try to bring the dish that best displays your cooking talents. I have always taken my special dishes hoping that they would disappear and hopefully enjoyed by all. I guess I always thought that what I brought was a gift of sorts to the hostess.
    Always been lucky to have been able to take home a sampling of everybody’s favorite foods.

  • Andrea Naso says:

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