Friday, December 26, 2014

give or take

In this season of voluminous gift giving, it might be wise to explore why the holidays cause such stress. The transactional burdens of giving or receiving gifts must be one factor. How many people give a gift with no strings (or ribbons) attached? Likely, few. To be that pure is a level of detachment difficult to attain. Thus, you give a gift and you expect something in return. Deny it if you want, but you at least want a "thank you." You may say or think or believe that you want or need nothing in return. A laudable goal, perhaps. But hard to do. And you may not do a calculation weighing values of gifts given or received, but many do. Maybe we all do to a degree, influenced by a consumerist culture. To broaden the discussion beyond the holidays, how many of us can give a gift (let's widen the conversation to mean "gift" can be words, compliments, gestures, etc.) while expecting nothing whatsoever in return, including an acknowledgment? I know I am not such a person. You might even argue whether "pure giving" is a worthy goal. These are talking points. Or listening bullets. We say "it is better to give than to receive," but I am not so sure of that. Receiving has its own demands and challenges. Perhaps that's a topic for another time.

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