It is the gift giving season. Christmas is around the corner and buying gifts is on everyone’s minds. And even though I’m not Christian, it is on my mind as well, since I’m leaving for home next week. And I’ve been studiously avoiding the shopping malls, simply because once started, the buying of gifts has no end. This time of the year, there is so much of stuff in all the stores, that consumerism is at its peak.
In the past, there have been phases in my life where I’ve gone overboard on buying of things for others and reeled under the impact of it (in terms of bills) for months to come. So, this time, I was determined to be *responsible*. And it also made me think deeply about what gifts are really about. We often want to give our loved ones something that will remind them of how special they are to us. And that is a noble gesture. And the true worth of a gift is in the love it is accompanied by, and the thoughtfulness that goes into it and not really in what it costs monetarily. As I was reading Yoga journal, I came across some nice thoughts on how to make gift giving hassle-free, on inviting loved ones for dinner or recycling gifts to avoid the increasing wastage in the universe. Or to donate to a charity which would be a beautiful way to share our happiness. All these thoughts made sense to me. And the most wonderful gift, according to Thay that we can give someone is by being totally present with them and being there for them.
And yet, I went shopping yesterday. There was something I wanted to get a loved one, and as soon as I saw it, I knew that was it. and it was expensive. I parted with my money somewhat slowly. I also knew that this was something that I would have loved to own myself, and giving it to her made it very special. It made me feel generous, for that is what generosity is: doing for others what we may have hesitated doing for ourselves. Gift giving is as much for us as for others. And money is after all, like everything else, impermanent. It will come and go. So, being generous with money once in a while, lets us practice being unattached to it.
As the sales girl was wrapping the gift, we got talking. As I asked her about her Christmas shopping, she spoke about how she was making all the gifts, sewing scarves and shawls and making chocolate herself to give as gifts at the Christmas dinner she was going to host. It sounded so beautiful-momentarily, I wondered if the gift I had just bought was as beautiful. But I knew in my heart, every gift is meaningful and its the thought and the time we take to choose it or make it that makes it special.
And when I returned home, there was a box waiting for me. An unbelievably extravagant gift from a dear friend-a beautiful mixer. As most of you know, I love baking. And I had been eyeing this mixer (which would make baking cookies and cakes so easy!), but it was too expensive for me to indulge myself. and here it was, standing there in gleaming white, sent so thoughtfully by a friend. Thats what made me realize-yes we should be responsible and we should be thoughtful. and once in a while if that thoughtfulness becomes an extravagance, its fully worth it. Giving a loved one, a gift-card for a massage, a perfume or a gorgeous pair of earrings, something you know she would have loved, but never got it herself..it is a beautiful gesture! And through it all, also to remember that no matter what-every gift is special and it reflects the thought and the love we put into it. The sentimental value of a gift is absolutely unmeasurable. And it can never be just things that can make us happy-only love can do that.
May we enjoy the spirit of this season and the generosity and thoughtfulness we all put into it for each other!
With love, S.