Sunday, August 3, 2008

What is a Gift?

I spoke with a friend of mine today. He told me that he had recently received a gift from a friend that he thought might have been used and that this really bothered him. He said he had been taught growing up that gifts should never be items that had been previously used. I agreed with him that if I no longer want an item that I own and the choice is to throw it away or give it to someone who might find a use for it, I would not normally call that a gift to the person.

However, I presented the following scenario: What if I had more money than I could possibly ever use (dream on, Joe!)? In other words, I feel no pain to purchase a present for someone, no matter the price. On the other hand, you come into my home and see a vase that I have, one that you find quite beautiful. It's been in my family for three generations and I treasure it. It has no monetary value, but it is quite precious to me. If I were to part with it and give it to you, would that not qualify as a gift? My friend agreed with me that it would, no matter that it was used and had no monetary value.

Then I thought, does it matter if I had money or not? It's the fact that I give you something that causes me a sacrifice, whether it be monetary or not. If I have no money, and I give you something that I have that I would still find useful or edifying, that is a sacrifice and it is a gift, especially if I know that you will appreciate the item I give you. If I have a lot of money and I simply buy you something that doesn't cause me any pain or effort, the gift is of questionable value, even if the recipient finds it very useful (or am I wrong here?). If I have a lot of money but I give you something that is unique and has belonged to me and cannot be easily replaced, that is a gift.

In either case, if I take the time to make you something with my own hands, whether it be a poem, a sculpture or anything that would time and talent to create, that is also a gift. Perhaps I take the time to teach you something that will help you - that too would be a gift.

What do you think? What qualifies as a gift? What doesn't?

1 comment:

Katya said...

Anything given with love and forethought qualifies as a gift whether used, old, new, hand-made or re gifted.