Gifts

This is the season for giving gifts. I always thought that people loved receiving gifts, so I was amused to read this news report about the findings of a recent survey commissioned by online marketplace, Ebay.

“The survey, found that although Australians spent A$8.5 billion ($7.5 billion) buying gifts this Christmas, at least A$1 billion worth of these presents will either be left to gather dust in a cupboard, binned, regifted, exchanged or sold.”

The survey mentioned some hilarious situations like a chicken gifted to a vegetarian, and a dog-bowl given as a gift to a person who did not own a dog!

The results of an earlier survey indicated that more than eight lakh gifts will be thrown into the garbage bin in Australia this Christmas, because “their recipients just hated them“!

Four young women in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, opened a shop a few weeks before Christmas this year , to address this very same problem. There, anyone can exchange a gift which they do not want to keep.

“We set no price on the presents, one can take anything we have in exchange for any present they bring and there is no money involved,” Masa Cvetko, one of the four women, said. “We hope to make people think before giving a gift and make them give presents that mean something, that have a symbolic, personal value.

This really makes us wonder why we give gifts? Because we are expected to do so? Because the person we are giving a gift to will be giving us one?

Sometimes gifts are a way of obliging the recipient in anticipation of some favour.

Even God is given gifts for this reason. Sometimes people give very extravagant gifts- like silver-plated doors for a temple or golden ornaments for the idol.

But does God really prefer such offerings?

I remember a verse which I was taught as a child- the general meaning was that God does not require any patra-pushpa-phala-toyam ( leaves, flowers, fruit or water) for his puja. He only requires that you should have faith in your heart, and his name on your lips. Those are the only gifts that God wants.

When you think about it- the only gifts that are valuable to us are the gifts that mean something. They may be expensive, or they may be of little monetary value. What is important is the thought behind the gift.

I remember a very special gift that I received a few years ago. I had been taking a class once a week for some underprivileged girls in a slum area. We conducted various activities there- yogasanas, discussions on current events, etc. During the summer vacations, some of the girls went to their native villages in Tamil Nadu.

After coming back to Mumbai two of the girls gave me a present they had brought for me- a mirror with a wooden frame and a small drawer. I later learned that the girls had pooled the little money they had been given to spend at a fair near their village, to get me this gift. This mirror is still one of my most prized possessions.

What about you- any memories of special gifts to share?
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21 thoughts on “Gifts”

  1. We had this old lady who was with us ( she came home when my eldest brother was born – she worked in that hospital and had no relatives) and became a part of the family. When I got married, she exchanged some of her sarees ( I do not know if this still happens – but in those days ladies came with baskets of steel vessels and gave them in exchange for clothes after assessing their value). She got two steel plates for me 27 years ago. I still have them. She is no longer around though!

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  2. There are many gifts that i have received. But the ones that i savour are the moments that people left me with. By being nice. By just being themselves. By just helping out…by just nudging forward…! Those were the best of gifts that i have ever received. And speaking of gifts, i heard on radio about the trend in the US to take gifts back to the store and exchange it for money ! Thats some money spinner ! dont you think !

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  3. Manju, what a nice post ! And yes, like Kavi, my greatest gifts have been gifts on which I can place no value; they are priceless. Gifts of time, gifts of understanding, and sometimes, a gift that feels like someone has a hand on your shoulder, saying, dont worry, it will be OK….I treasure these people and their gifts.

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  4. Kavi, Ugich Konitari,– You are right- memorable moments with people are the best kind of gifts! They are priceless.Exchanging gifts for money seems to be a new low…

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  5. "He only requires that you should have faith in your heart, and his name on your lips. Those are the only gifts that God wants.""What is important is the thought behind the gift."What lovely thoughts you have shared in your post…I am sure these days people buy gifts out of compulsion and hence most of it gathers dust and even thrown out (but how sad if you look at the other side where there are people who have never ever rcvd gifts)

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  6. many a people kill two birds with one stone only. they take out the gifts from their lofts thus clear the clutter from their house and ofcourse feel high and satisfied that they have gifted to someone.long time back on my daughter's 2nd birthday she got a casserole and a set of table matsnow tell me what was the purpose of those gifts? 🙂

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  7. 'give presents that mean something, that have a symbolic, personal value.' This is the correct meaning of gift, I feel, Manju!I had a servant maid when my first son was born. On the 'thottil' (swing) day, that lady gave a small steel katori to my son. I used to give cereal to my son and later on to my second son, too, from that katori!Once for my birthday, my sons gave me one small glass cup with lid and some Hyderabad mud with stone bangles and a set of hairpins! They must have been around 7 and 5 year olds. They got it from the platform shop when they went to the beach with my sister-in-law. They had some pocket money that she gave them and she saw the gifts after they bought them! The bangles were too small for me! I still have the small glass cup with lid!Nice post, Manju!

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  8. Happy Kitten– Thank you!Yes, it is sad that there are those who have never received gifts…Anjugandhi– I agree, many times people do give the things they want to get rid of, as gifts.Chowlaji– You're fortunate to have a daughter who takes the time and effort to get nice gifts for you!Sandhya– We treasure the gifts that are given from the heart, don't we? It was very sweet of your sons to get you stone bangles and hairpins from their pocket money!

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  9. I love to give gifts..but i am not sure i got any gift which i cherish..Most of the times, gifts becomes a ritual and in that process we tend to give or receive gifts which are useless…i dont agree with you regarding the gifts to GOD..what you are conveying is logically correct…but there are all kinds of people who waste money by drinking, throwing money at bar dancers etc…Bipasha basu is given 2 crores for 15 minutes dance on new year eve…money earned legally and spent legally should not be criticized..it is his wish…that s my humble opinion..

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  10. Your posts are always so thought provoking, most of the gifts given ar only rituals performed…most of the time people give the things which they like, not the thing the one who is taking would prefer.I cherish all the hand made things my daughter gives me and there is one card my son gave me with the words…something like ….I wish you the freedom to do what you want,live the way you like..etc.

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  11. Manju, what a lovely post and what wonderful thoughts.I echo the feelings of Ugich Knitari about the gifts I treasure.As to material gifts, I love giving more than receiving them.(Typos never seem to leave me; I am not a proof reader or clerk!)

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  12. It sounded funny when I re-read my comment now, Manju! 7 and 5 year olds' pocket money is the cash given by various relatives here when they visited Madras from Bangalore. All the money was spent on buying 'Amar Chitra Katha' books at the Central Station book shop, while coming back to Bangalore! Everyone knew about where the money was spent! So my gift becomes still more important, isn't it?!

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  13. Sunder– Re: gifts to temples, etc.- I suppose I should not have generalized. I agree, people should be free to spend their legally earned money in any manner they like.Actually I was thinking of the situations where people say that if they get something which they wish, then they will donate to the temple or perform a certain type of Puja-that seems like bribery to me!Renu– Very true, many times people do not take into consideration what the person they are giving the gift to, would like.Hand-made gifts seem so nice, don't they? My husband's aunt used to knit wonderful sweaters and shawls and gift them to relatives on special occasions- on birthdays, or when a grandchild passed an exam with especially good marks. They were greatly appreciated.Vinodji-Yes, those gifts which do not cost money are the most valuable -gifts of time, understanding or support!Sandhya– I understood what you meant! 🙂

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  14. Nice post, Manju. Gifts are pricesless or cannot be valued at all.I once sold in scrap a brass container which my mother had received in her marriage as a gift. It was overused and cracked, and it was also sold with her permission. But nevertheless I saw her in tears!We deposit our emotions on some gifts to make them invaluable.Vivek

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  15. Even I used to knit sweaters as gifts..My daughter makes beautiful cards..they are so unique, then she makes certain other things also,I always buy the cards for written matter, never for fancy looks..to me all that matters very much…I always tell everybody..dont write the words on cards you dont mean..I dont like those hyperbolic cards, I want everthing to be genuine:)Wishing you a very happy and prosperous new year !!!!

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  16. Vivekji– Touching story about your mother's attachment to the brass container- you're right, these inanimate objects hold our emotions. As you say, that makes them invaluable.Renu– A happy and prosperous New Year to you too!Prerna– Very true!Sandhya– Best wishes for the New Year to you and your family too!

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  17. thats an interesting analysis…. I always prefer to gift something which will be useful or something which they like….a very happy new year to you and your family Manju… 🙂 🙂

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