What's in a gift?

What's in a gift?

It’s festival time and also a time for gifts. Exciting as this sounds though, one notices that every ‘gift’ contains, literally and figuratively, an ‘if.’ If it is something that the person needs or wants, it will be greatly appreciated.

On the other hand, anything useless or tacky turns into a liability. After her daughter’s wedding, I found my friend surrounded by wrapping paper, looking a very heap of misery. ‘Six sets of lemonade glasses, three irons and five photo frames,’ she moaned. ‘And all these have to be reciprocated when the right time comes!’

‘You could circulate them!’ I suggested brightly. “And risk returning their own gifts?’ she retorted. ‘Donate them to charitable institutions, ‘ I went on. ‘They too are perhaps inundated with them!’ ‘Sell them to the paper-wallah.’ ‘Even he may set up a cry of protest,’ she returned gloomily.

The word ‘cry’ brought to mind the hilarious party-game I had been part of. Called ‘The white elephant gift-exchange’, every participant was required to bring a gift that had proved to be a disappointment. Wrapped and livened up in an imaginative manner, they were then put in an attractive heap.

Each in turn chose an item, unwrapped it and then held it up. The player could keep it for himself, unless it was ‘grabbed’ by someone else. This would entitle him to pick another gift. A gift could be grabbed only three times. The game generated enormous fun. Groans of despair and cries of delight rent the air. The game besides being fun, revealed the many things that one would not like to receive, and how one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure!

Sometimes one is presented with the proverbial gold that does not glitter. My sister was given a sari and dhoti beautifully packaged. With Divali round the corner, she decided to give it to her maid as a festival bonus. Great was her chagrin when she was told that the sari on washing resembled a net and that the dhoti had shrunk to half its size. What is perhaps most disappointing is when beautiful artifacts are employed as a means of advertisement. Often a clock or a crystal bowl prominently bears the name of the company, thereby ruining its worth as a show-piece.

Like free lunches, good gifts are hard to find. Perhaps gift coupons or even cash, unimaginative as it sounds, are good options. Some wedding cards specifically tell you that gifts are not expected. Best of all are those that request you to donate to some well-known charity – the perfect gift for a better future!

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