The short answer is first to define what a gift is NOT
A gift is NOT something that is given with the idea of getting something back.
This might sound true at face value but basically, even though a genuine gift is presented without expecting repayment, there IS a payment in sort. The payment is (looking at it from a guy’s perspective) that warm feeling you get when you see the look in your wife or girlfriends eye. It could perhaps be accompanied by a tear of happiness, or a hug. (The opposite is true if you are a girl reading this article.)
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As a very important historical person once said: “there is more happiness in giving than receiving.” You only understand what that means if you are a generous giver. If everyone in this world acted unselfishly, caring for others as much as themselves, we would have a much happier planet.
Really, we humans can’t do without one another. We need affection. We all need to feel wanted, liked, appreciated, respected, esteemed, cherished, valued, admired, yes, loved. We just cannot do without it, even though some tough guys try to act as if they can. Secretly, I know some really big tough guys who cry like babies when no one is looking. (Some when others ARE looking)
It starts not long after birth.
I guess a lot of folks have heard about the little babies in the orphanages who thrived if their bassinette was close to where a hugging nurse walked by at night. Here is a modern day comment about this:
“Techniques of Touch: New Knowledge about Nurturing Newborns” mentions the history of non-touched babies. Infants placed in orphanages in Europe after World War II received nourishment, but they did not grow and many developed severe social problems. Doctors attributed this failure to thrive from a lack of parental touch.- http://www.ehow.com/facts_5633230_effect-human-contact-newborn-babies.html
As adults, we are often too proud to admit it but we all crave affection, and tangible gifts are often good ways of forming links between people. Boys to girls. Girls to boys. Husbands to wives and vice versa. Family members and friends to one another. Material items can serve a useful purpose because they serve as a reminder of someone’s love or appreciation for the receiver. And if you guys out there aren’t too good at saying ‘I love you,’ a gift can sometimes do it for you. (But you had better get used to saying the I.L.Y bit too if you want to keep your girl)
However there is a danger in this. The world is full of things that people give one another and while it’s interesting to own that new gadget, too often the emphasis is placed on the material item being given, rather than on the warm human relationship it nurtures which is far more important.
And the prompts we receive to remind us of gift giving are dangers in themselves. The western world too often relies on events such as birthdays, Christmas, Mothers Day, Valentines days, etc to be reminded of the need to be generous and it’s unfortunate that people often feel under obligation to give on these occasions and this really takes away from the idea of giving altogether. Gift giving can become something we are expected to do or ‘what will this person think if he/she doesn’t get a gift on this occasion?”
Sadly, this often results in (among other things) (1) Overspending, causing no little arguments and frustrations (2) Lack of appreciation for the gift, particularly on the part of young children at Christmas time who expect gifts rather than receive them as a surprise as a reward for good behaviour. This practice tends to breed selfish children who grow up into unappreciative adults.
Such unappreciated gifts often end up on the junk pile not long after the gift giving event is over.
This is not to say that we should abandon gifts. Gifts are great ways of showing appreciation, or expressing love to someone, often without saying a word. We should just try not to be controlled by the commercial system which pressurises us into giving when we either can’t afford it, or really don’t do it from the heart as it should be.
Try being spontaneous in gift giving. Try not to have to be reminded about it. Try developing a kind heart and an appreciative personality. That way, our gifts, whether a nice pendant for the wife or a pair of cuff links for the husband, a pair of earrings for a girlfriend, a ring for a boyfriend or just a thoughtful card for some nice folks that we know, will be genuine, from the heart and not out of a feeling of obligation.