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On Sunny Lane: Gift Cards are a Mixed Blessing

Oh sure, it's nice to get one of those shiny square items tucked inside a birthday or Christmas card, but using it is a different matter.

Sweetheart and I get primarily restaurant gift cards. We really like them. Even though I really enjoy devising meals that are prepared with healthy ingredients and eating in the comfort of our home, it's nice to get a break from time to time.

There are certain things that happen to interfere with Sweetheart and me actually using the gift cards. Maybe some of them have happened to you.

Once we have decided to eat out and use one of the gift cards, we sometimes forget and leave them in the house. I could keep them in my purse, but there is no room for anything else in my purse. We decided it would help us to remember if we keep them in the car.

That actually is a good idea and it works pretty well. Except that we have two cars. If we make a spontaneous decision to eat out, we are sometimes in a car where the gift cards are not.

There is always the possibility that we go into a restaurant and eat and, when it is time to pay, we forget that we left the card in the car and it is impractical to go out and get it.

Sometimes, we actually remember to use our gift, but there is a balance remaining. Sometimes we only use half and sometimes there are only a few dollars left. That situation presents its own challenge.

Since someone we know and love was kind enough to present us with the present, we want to use every bit of it. But, we still have to muddle through all of the previously mentioned obstacles to use it. And, sometimes we have to intentionally go to that particular restaurant for that particular reason.

Well, a couple of months ago, we got a gift card for a chain restaurant that does not exist in our area. In fact, we have to travel quite a distance to find one. So we used that card on our trip to Tennessee. However, we did not use the full value of the card. On the way home, we stopped at another store of that chain for breakfast.

When we finished breakfast we reached for the card and it was not in our possession. We didn't feel like going out to the car to get it. As a result, we paid the full amount of the breakfast.

When we visited our cousins last month, we decided to take them out for dinner at one of those chain restaurants so we could use the balance of the gift card.

It was busy that day and the parking lot was almost full. We parked along the outer edge of the lot and walked in. When we got to the door, I discovered that the card was in the car. Determined that we should use it, I ran back to the car to get it. I didn't want to hold up the line that was being seated. Turned out the balance was only $2.60, but, as I stated, I was determined to use it.

So, we treated our cousins to dinner. I stood and watched as Sweetheart paid for the meals with his credit card. We got out to the car and discovered the card, safe and sound, in his shirt pocket. Do you see what I mean about a mixed blessing?

Last week we had supper with a friend. We went to a restaurant where we could use a gift card. However, our friend told us she was going to treat us.

That is a blessing, too. Nothing mixed about it.


Dorothy is the author of two books—“Miles and Miracles” and “Getting It All Together “. You can purchase a book or send a comment by emailing her at

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