On giving and receiving gifts:


It is the holiday season! That time of the year, when giving gifts and sharing good feelings is all around us. “Whatever you give to others, do so sincerely and with commitment; If you lack sincerity and commitment, then do not bother to just go through the motions” – Shraddhayaa Dheyam; Ashraddhayaa Adheyam – is the injunction from the Upanishad. This sounds like a harsh statement to obey, especially at a time, when we are rushing to get things done, complete a check list before the Holiday and be ready for the New Year. Who wants to get into a new year, with a guilt feeling of not having given the gifts to those in our check list?

Gift can be given because I want to give you something, as a true measure of my thoughts and feeling and appreciation of who you are! Wait a minute, this is getting too heavy! I don’t even know who you are? Am I supposed to appreciate something of you? What is that? My feelings about you? My thoughts on what? — Please forgive me. My mind got carried away. Isn’t it much easier to pack something and go through the motions, rather than struggle with the details of the gift, is it appropriate or not, etc. Can I not simply finish what I need to do and move on, with out the need to think so much?

Inertia or ignorance leads to gifts or charity to the improper persons, at inappropriate place and time, often in unceremonious manner or with contempt. BG. 17. 22.

To tell you the truth, I packed this special item especially for this person, since I need to be in good books with him/her. If I do, I am sure to gain certain favors he/she has promised me. May be the return of favor is only implied, but may be this gift will make it happen for sure? How can I be sure that my gift will be remembered to the extent that the favor I seek will happen for sure? May be this requires a more pricy gift? May be it also needs a better gift box and a nicer wrapping with a bow tied on top of that? Yep, I am all done and ready. Wait a minute, I am not sure I packed the item I had in mind? If I let it go and if it is not the right thing, then the whole idea of giving this gift is useless. May be I left the price tag in place! That is not a good idea. What will “he/she” think of me? I am rushed, I am emotional, I am confused and I rip open the gift box and I start all over again!

Turbulent nature leads to gifts or help to others, always expecting a return of favor (for selfish needs rather than of being helpful to some one). Often such gifts are given unwillingly and/or with pomp and vanity BG.: 17. 21.

Gift is my recognition of a need that I can full fill. The need is not always material. It could be a kind word, a brief note, a phone call, a visit with a friend, meaningful conversation, sharing a meal. The gift is merely a token, an item we exchange to symbolize the thoughts, emotions, respect and admiration. It is just a means to a larger end. The box is the ambiance we create as we share the gift. The wrapping is the climate we create, with a genuine sense of warmth and affection, which transcends the spoken words or the material objects exchanged. The price of the gift can be easily judged, but the value as judged by the receiver is priceless!

Tranquility leads to gift as a part of one’s duties, for those in need and with out expectation. Such gifts are exchanged at the proper place, time and to the appropriate person B.G. 17. 20.

Receiving gifts is also a skill as much as it is an art. It is worth reflecting on the intent and effort and appreciate that first, before focusing on “is this the right gift? What can I do with it? What can I give in return?” etc. Not every gift has to be a special item. But, each gift by itself can be special to the giver as well as the receiver. The excitement and anticipation and the thought that went into a gift should be in the minds of the receiver. It is our ability to transcend the object and feel the genuine warmth behind the gift that creates a genuine bond between the giver and the receiver of the gifts. The anticipation of the moment, the twinkle in the eye with excitement and the thrill that a child experiences and the innocence of joy at every item in the stocking stuffer and the memories they create are the true value and joy of giving gifts at the holiday time. Such innocent pleasures of giving gifts and receiving them need not remain with the children alone. Let us hope, these are the treasures that Santa Claus can bring to the adults, as he secretly descends down your chimney tonight!

With due apologies to the reader, I do not have any gift for you, except for the above essay! Hope you find it of some value!
Best wishes for a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

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2 Responses to On giving and receiving gifts:

  1. krishnan says:

    Yes, indeed. It is tough to get an appointment with a psychoanalyst for post holiday syndrome.

  2. jayanthi says:

    A kind word or deed is definitely appreciated long after the instant gratification of opening the package is over.

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