Feature Story

The Gift of Giving and Receiving

Part 1

A Gift: What is it? What it should be?

THE 2017 Holiday Season passed. A brand New Year has been ushered in and it is now February, and another gift-giving tradition is here, Valentine’s Day. It is not as big as the Christian’s Christmas but it’s also commercially famous for gift-giving and well, yes, obviously receiving too. Not much for children but for adults.

A few months back, I received a message that would sort of galvanize me into writing this piece. Someone asked me for a gift. Yes, a request detailing what was wished for and the occasion, a birthday. Since this is not the first time, not necessarily from the same person, I mused on this and asked myself, why? Not really, “Why me?” but “Gift? Why do you ASK for a gift?”

It’s a different story when you ask someone very close to you. Now, some might say it is okay if you ask from someone like your husband or your parent, “Get me a new phone as birthday gift, okay?”

I question myself again, “Really? That’s fine to ask for a gift and be specific about what you want?” What if the person was preparing for months to get you this special something but different from what you asked for? What if they cannot afford to give anything at all at the time? What if they actually do not feel like giving you anything at all for whatever reason? Shouldn’t these all be put into consideration WHEN ASKING FOR A GIFT? Or should we be asking at all?

If and when someone asks you what you wanted for a gift, that’s another ball game altogether; especially, if you’re someone deemed as difficult to get a gift for. And, if you yourself seem to be running out of gift options for someone, some people do ask, “Please tell me what you want, I’d rather get you what you want instead of something you’ll find useless at the end of the day, please tell me, we both know I’m going to get one for you anyway.”

Would this kill the idea of a present? Shouldn’t a gift have the element of surprise in it?

A child receiving a gift from her mom

What is a GIFT anyway? Dictionaries say, “It is a thing given willingly to someone without payment” (preferably from the heart?) Let us not tackle the other types like donations, endowments, benefactions etc. Just the one you give or receive on occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and other holidays like Christmas, Valentines etc.

A thing given willingly! I’m not saying that when it’s requested from you it’s not a gift because it’s not given at will or as a choice. As I mentioned, sometimes you are faced with the situation wherein you have to ask what a person prefers. It is still a gift because you already have it in mind that you will give a gift!

Thing is, say, even if I am not planning to give a gift and a person asks, if I agree in giving it, I would have given because I realized that, yes! I want to give this thing to this person as a gift! Win-Win! The person gets the wish and I get to enjoy the feeling of making that wish come true!

Because I love giving gifts! Most especially when I could actually afford it! I love giving what I know the receiver wants and will have a use for; otherwise, they wouldn’t wish for it would they? Best of giving gifts for me is taking time and using what imagination I have in wrapping them! It doesn’t make any difference to me whether I’m wrapping an expensive gift or a cost effective one, they will be wrapped with the same enthusiasm, love and imagination or creativeness.

A gift has to be given willingly… definitely NOT by means of extortion in any way; through sob stories, threats or guilt tripping the supposed presenter to yield and give!

In my view, there should be NO OBLIGATION in gift-giving.

How about traditions like “Exchange Gifts or Monito/Monita usually done at Christmas parties? The onus is there when you’re part of it; don’t join then if you don’t feel like it! Giving gifts should be enjoyed as a wholesome experience.

Gift giving should be regarded as sacrosanct; the act and not the gift per se should make both parties (giver and receiver) joyous in giving and vice versa. It should be able to help strengthen bonds and relationships; and a gift should be given without the expectation of getting something back in return.

A gift at the end of the day is what you give; not always in cash and kind but in kind thoughts (like prayers) and deeds.

Kleo Hernandez-Kannangara
Kleo has a Communication Arts degree from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines which she earned in 1986. She lives in the United Arab Emirates and is married to a Sri Lankan. She has four children, all of whom were born at the UAE. She describes her self as a “stay-at-home mom” who’s always on the road doing errands for everyone, and an “inspirational’ writer which according to her means "I write when inspired by a person, place or event."

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