Today's post is a guest post from Sparky and Goddess on Love And The Art of Giving.....
This month, we decided to write about gift giving. To get started, we treated ourselves to a long, leisurely and somewhat nomadic conversation, exploring our gift-giving experiences, to see wherever we might land together.
This particular journey found us yakking it up on a late night phone call, traversing through holiday memories, rituals and various cultural landscapes where familiar clusters of colorful, paper wrapped boxes with bows had likely appeared. Around each box and bow we ascribed feelings of excitement, gratitude, surprise, expectation, appreciation – while also recognizing entitlement, manipulation, judgment, pressure, disappointment, ungratefulness, and so on.
There was a pattern to both of our experiences - a path to what first appeared like a light, delightful stroll into Candyland and began to morph into an unfulfilling, forced march through a gnarly gauntlet. Our experiences with holidays, anniversaries and birthdays – not to mention the blatant, communal trance of Christmas excess, had changed our relationship towards observing such traditions and the requisite gifting frenzy.
Together, we acknowledged that the ritual of gifting - when practiced freely and spontaneously, can beautifully represent something far greater than the thing given. But, as in so many other aspects of life, when the gifting becomes invested with such heaps of ego, it hogs all the energy and overshadows the finest intentions of celebration and tradition. We continued chatting like this, recalling various observances that ranged in description from an authentic and intimate expression of love to a grotesque, public orgy of base pathologies.
We’ve all been to these things that pretty much script out the same. All leading to the big moment when the king or queen bee must graciously, or maybe not so graciously, receive and react to each gift as spectators ooh and ah appropriately while swimming in a deep sea of complex, subtle parleys that showcase skillsets designed to veil what amounts to judging and being judged. We had to laugh at the infinite mirror metaphor reflecting a judge judging while being judged as others judge others judging… Sheesh!
Then came the story of a group of 13 year olds that had been picked up in limos for dinner at a Georgetown restaurant, followed by front row seats for a performance at the Kennedy Center and dancing in a private club. At the club, the birthday girl was found weeping, being consoled in her distress by concerned friends, because a parent chaperone had remained in tow, downstairs.
We shared the tender memory of a parent that had, year after year, arrived with a modest, but thoughtful birthday gift – each of which were well received and treasured. It was only later discovered that the same gift had been secured in bulk, and given to other relatives of similar age and gender, year after year.
It’s a teaching to consider: we want our gifts to be imbued with meaning, but meaning can only be what the receiver sees.
It’s been said that the greatest gift you can ever give anyone is your attention. To train that upon another and open to blending in that greater field of awareness, connects and fulfills in ways that other gifts and words cannot. Doing so lays a foundation of connection, a blending of trust and understanding, upon which any other gift in form can lay. When that foundation is formed and tended too, the greatest gift is already present.