I’ll get right to the point – if you give something to someone else and you expect something in return, is it really a gift? I don’t think so, but what do I know?
If you’ve been reading these ramblings, you may recall that last year was the first holiday season I asked to be given nothing and would also be giving nothing material – for Christmas. Instead we agreed to donate to charities. (See this post from last December.)
But prior to Christmas 2007, and at other times of the year, gifts have been given and received. Most people give just out of the love they feel or goodness they want to share and expect nothing in return. Most of the time they might not even remember what they gave cousin Becky 2 years ago or Uncle Jim when he turned 50.
I wish everyone felt this way – after all, ‘tis better to give than to receive. Sadly, some "gifts" come with strings attached. These strings aren’t always obvious, but they are there. Months or even years later it might be thrown in one’s face – I did this for you and I did that for you and you should now do this or that for me. It’s like keeping score in a game of tit-for-tat. Well, sorry, but I won’t play and I don’t think anyone else should play either. Besides, as David Roth (folk musician) points out, shoulding on anyone is a “shouldy thing to do”!
According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, one definition of gift is “Something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation”. The second part of that says it all.