Monday, September 24, 2012

On Giving Gifts

I loved this article on the difficulty of gift-giving. It's a topical topic (heh) for me, since I celebrated my birthday last week with my two best friends, the Guy and Effe, and both of them unknowingly followed Miss Conduct's advice and offered to gift me experiences we could share together.

But even better, their bigger gifts to me was their presence. Effe traveled by bus for 15 hours to get to my city. She planned a ten-day-long visit so we could catch up on two years' of conversation and fun. We're supposed to work during weekdays, but we end up taking long breaks to sit and talk and talking through most of the night so we're groggy and unproductive during the day.

But I have my best friend in my home, and obviously here because she loves me and because it's my birthday, and what can be a better gift that that?

The Guy has been cooking for us and barely lets either of us lift a finger. We sit and talk while delicious meals magically appear. He participates in our conversations when he can, and quietly removes himself to another room when he needs to work. He often gets left out, not intentionally, but he knows what this visit of Effe's means to me, and he doesn't complain.

And again, what can be a better gift?

Let's end with me. Effe mentioned, during the course of one of our long conversations about old times, how I used to love giving people thoughtful, careful gifts. We were in college then, and I earned a few hundred rupees a month by tutoring, and I'd take buses and walk and eat samosa for lunch because that's all I could afford. But I gave nice, thoughtful, though not extravagant, gifts to people I cared for.

I was a little surprised when she mentioned it, because I hadn't quite realized it was noticeable. And I don't do it as often anymore. But I still like giving gifts, I like seeing the light in the recipient's eyes as they realize I was listening when they talked of their interests and I got them something they will enjoy.

I like setting aside books for Effe and for other friends, books that I have read and that I think they will like. I love it when Effe gets me something that reminds me again how well she knows me. I have got used to choosing my gift that the Guy then pays for -- because he doesn't do gift-giving in the same way I do, but he does want to give me something I really want.

I am not much of a crafts-artist, but I enjoy embroidery sometimes, and when I gave two friends pieces I created... I hoped they would appreciate them not because they were, or even if they weren't, nice pieces of decor, but because I had thought of the friend while working on her gift and every stitch was evidence of my love and appreciation.

When I give you a gift, I give you a piece of me. My time, my thoughts, my love. Because isn't that what a gift is?

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