I recently had some colleagues and friends send me a few gift baskets with food items (candies, cookies, snacks) to celebrate a milestone. I keep a kosher household, but most of what was in these baskets isn’t kosher. How should I respond if people ask if I liked what they sent?
Thanks But No Thanks?
The wonderful thing about receiving food gifts is that, unless you live in the same household with the gift giver, no one will ever know what happens to the items. Any response you give is absolutely unverifiable and, as such, should not be a source of stress to you.
Usually when someone asks if you liked the gift they sent, it’s a way of confirming that you received it, so you can also head things off by sending a quick thank-you note or email in advance. If the question you’re dreading is asked outright, though, you have my permission to say whatever feels easiest. While lying isn’t normally my preferred method of handling a problem, in this case, if someone says, “Did you enjoy the beef jerky?” just say yes. Or, to sidestep a bit, you could say, “Thank you so much for the thoughtful gift” without offering an actual yes or no.
Give the non-kosher food to a friend or neighbor who will enjoy it, and don’t worry about it anymore. It sounds like this was an unusual number of food gifts to get at one time due to your milestone (mazel tov!), and you’re unlikely to face a similar situation in the future.
However, if you’re concerned that this is going to be a regular occurrence or that you’ll find yourself at a meal with these gift-givers and they’ll notice what you do and don’t eat, you can find a neutral time to mention keeping kosher without tying the information to their previously-received gifts.
This scenario also provides a good reminder that while food can be a great gift because of the immediate gratification it provides and the fact that it doesn’t take up any long-term space, you should confirm in advance that you’re gifting something that fits with the dietary needs of the recipient. If you’re not sure of what someone eats, either ask or give something else.
The other option of course, for all involved, is to say it’s the thought that counts and resign yourself to the fact that food gifts might be regifted or wasted. Once you give a gift, it’s out of your hands. And once you receive a gift, what you do with it, and what you say about it, is up to you.