This morning, I sat down with Joyce and had a heart-to-heart.
Me: "I am so grateful for the gift you gave me. You said such beautiful things, and the gift is even more meaningful because of what you said."
Joyce: "Yes, Mama."
Me: "I love and appreciate you, Joyce. I value your friendship. You are like a sister to me."
Joyce: "Yes, we are sisters."
Me: "Joyce, as sisters, I want to share my heart with you. Is that ok?"
Joyce: "Yes. Sisters are honest with each other."
Me: "When I look at the gift, it means a lot to me because I know it came from your heart. It shows me that you care about me, and that is what makes it so special. But in my culture, this type of thing, with so much frills and lace, is not something we normally do. White men feel like it's 'too much' to have something so girly like this in their bathroom. So I know that Niel does not enjoy having it in here."
Joyce: "Ooohh... Basotho men, they do not mind. But I can see that white men will mind..."
Me: "Yes. So I'd like to ask you if this will fit in your bathroom. If it will, then I would like to give it to you for your house. I will feel good knowing that you are able to use it and enjoy it."
Joyce: "Yes, it fits in my bathroom. I will take it today, and I will let you know when I have it set up in my bathroom so you can come by to see it."
Me: "I would love to! Thank you so much, Joyce. I appreciate you very much!"
Joyce (with a laugh): "I know, Mama, I know. It's okay. It's okay..."
We ended with much hugging, and everything truly is okay! Joyce wasn't offended at all, and she joyfully took down the items and packed them up to bring to her house.
And my bathroom is much happier being back to normal... as are Niel and I!
In case you're wondering, I decided to handle it this way because I figured that honesty truly is the best policy. If it was "accidentally" torched, destroyed by children, or ravaged by my bird, Joyce would still not know that we didn't like it, and would most likely end up replacing it for Chrirstmas or my next birthday. I'd rather not relive this experience again if I can avoid it.
Indirect communication is key in Basotho culture. They don't directly express their own opinion or preference. I figured I'd go that route by blaming it on the fact that men in my culture don't like that sort of thing. Thanks, Hon, for taking one for the team...
I also told Joyce early in the day, giving me the rest of the day to make sure that she was really okay. She was completely fine, making her usual jokes and small talk with me and Niel. It feels so great to know that I didn't offend her or hurt her feelings in this whole thing...
Thanks everyone for weighing in and sharing your thoughts on this one! Many a laugh has been had, and I will be remembering this for a very long time...