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The Art of Gifting

By Tinky Ningombam

Christmas is around the corner and so are the New Year’s celebrations and all I see are people buying presents. I always like festivities, we get goodies from people for no reason and people look happier or at-least appear to be. We have the impending Christmas for instance and even if you are not a Christian you never run out of reasons to celebrating it some way or the other. If you are not the Grinch, it is quite impossible not to be caught in the season’s fever. And it becomes quite hard not to want gifts. Well it is your extended New Year’s week, what else?

Shops lit with LED lights and scented flowers and pretty hostesses calling you in, into their maze of discounts on gift items. People coming out and selling gifts, more things than a lifetime of shopping can exhaust. Everywhere you turn, you are expected to buy things for other people. You are expected to GIFT even if it’s a small one.  And for that, you have malls, stores, gift shops mushrooming in every nook and corner, street vendors, door to door salesmen, sales through the internet, sales through SMS.

But we know, we will never be able to give everyone everything. Because as you grow older, your circle of people grows, your friends grow in number. You cannot buy a gift for everyone, unless of course you are an extremely wealthy person or a politician (sic).

So now, you will have to pick and choose. Who deserves a gift and what gift deserves who? It is times like these that amuse me; when I know that there cannot be a normal human being who’s not biased. Even in a case where you might be willing to give all that you have to someone, you will still search for the one or ones that deserve your gift. Right? Hypothetically speaking, if you become the world’s biggest philanthropist and decide to give away your billion dollars worth of property, you will probably not distribute it to the next set of random strangers.

Anyway, the fact is that you will have to pick who you will have to give something. In such occasions, you are doing the mental deductions “Oh but she is my girl friend, I have to give something” or “…but he gave me an expensive gift last year, I need to return something” or worse case “Oh God, she is family I have to get her something. Drat!!”

That is why occasions like these kind of make me a little wary. Questions from “Do I need to buy gifts?” to “Should I wait for people to give me things and then return-gift or should I give something first?” With friends it’s ok. Be it any occasion: a wedding, a birthday or a celebration. You can always ask them what they want. But I have also seen many a friendship broken over gifts – over not being able to return back expensive gifts to catching them recycling their old gifts and re-gifted to you.

What I hate is a bad gift.  Maybe hate is a very strong word but yes, that is exactly what I do feel. I hate it when someone gifts me something that I will never ever be able to use. I believe that if you made the effort to get someone a present, you can make the extra effort to not buy trinkets or worse just some convenience gift. I do not mind even if you gave me money gift packed in a box. At-least I can use it.  Don’t you feel the same? Maybe you can reciprocate with a like-minded gift. Give back a meaningless gift for the same or better a voucher he can never use. Just Kidding (or maybe not).

The art of Gifting is a tough art. Everyone knows that. How many times have you wished to throw away the gifts given to you? How many people have stopped gifting you because you always hate their gift or because you have never given back? The learning here is that a gift is not actually a free deal. If you accept a gift from someone, you are indebted to remember this generosity and reciprocate with something of similar value and or proportion so that you do not live indebted to someone. Or face some cold scorn on their hearts. A gift is not a gift. It is an obligation.

I shall leave you today with some myths that need breaking. It will clearly do us no harm; rather make us happier if not generous.

Myth #1 – It does not matter whether your gift is big or small, it’s the sentiment that counts

My take: One word for this. Hogwash. You are expected to give a meaningful gift. Need not be expensive monetarily. But it needs to show some investment. Yes, some effort and some heart to it. You can’t gift wrap a trinket and give to someone for a gift.

Myth #2 – Your gift needs to be unique and different

My take: Not everyone lives the life of a movie star or a creative recluse surviving on Red Bull. Maybe what your friend wants is a simple gift : a mobile phone or a purse or a pen. She might not appreciate a vintage wall décor which she might not even have place to put. Shop as per what the recipient wants to own and not by what you want to show off to other people.

Myth #3 – Everyone loves a gift

My take: Well, not everyone. More people are burdened by the idea of returning a gift. Gift wisely and without inducing obligation.

(The author and her 2 month old kitten like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas in advance.  Well actually the kitten just says Meowy Christmeow. )



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