Part 5 ……. The Art of Receiving
Who amongst us does not like receiving gifts? Receiving enriches us in more ways than in the material sense. It tells us that we are important to someone for them to give us a gift. It shows that they care for us.
How a gift is received varies in different cultures. As children we showed our happiness at receiving gifts by spontaneously giving a hug and / or kiss to the giver and tearing open the gift! As we grow older, we become a little reserved about displaying our gratitude, so we profess it with a thank you and maybe a hug before opening our gift. Then when we become adults a time comes when some of us just accept the gift, say a thank you, and put it away without opening it.
This behavior is especially true in an Asian i e Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan context, where to open your gift in front of the giver is considered ill mannered, even uncouth. It is put away and opened afterwards. This however, does not complete the circuit of Giving and Receiving. It leaves a big hole in the giver’s mind as to: Was the gift appropriate / liked? It is only when the receiver opens the gift upon receiving it, and spontaneously shows his gratitude and appreciation that the whole event is complete!
The art of gift wrapping in Japan is called tsusumu. Even the wrapping of the gift is done with love and care. So when the gift is given, the receiver opens the cover with great care too. Tearing it open shows no consideration for the spirit with which it was wrapped. Thus both the actual thing as well as the wrapper is respected, because they both reflect the love of the giver.
In certain cases, for example, your wedding party, it is not possible to open each present publicly. Writing a little thank you note to each one, saying how much you liked or enjoyed the book / dress / jewellery etc. goes a long way in showing that you care for the giver too.
Finally, there may come a time in your life when you do not want to accumulate any more material things especially if you have no use for them. At the same time, you do not want to refuse genuine gifting. Faizal, (name changed) for his 80th birthday informed all his family members and friends in advance that what they wished to spend on a gift for him should be given to a charity in his name. In this way, 3 purposes were served: Giving, Receiving and Giving Again! The receiver ‘passes’ on the giving, and in the process becomes gratified at having helped a needy cause.
Truly, Giving and Receiving are two sides of a coin. One cannot exist without the other! And like the coin itself, they enrich our lives!