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The Perfect Present

It is often said in the context of presents that one’s presence matters more than presents. This is particularly true in the case of close family and friends. But the COVID-19 pandemic has turned this entire notion on its head. With online schooling from home alongside work from home, it is actually a case of surfeit of presence. The adage that is now coming into play is that of familiarity breeding contempt. Thus, the materialistic gift, at least for the time being, is gaining eminence.

This reminds me that when my daughter turned eleven last March, I bought her a globe as her birthday gift. This is what she had wanted. But little did I know what a prophetic statement I had made by gifting her a globe. It was perhaps an early warning of the home becoming one’s world. Sadly, even after a year, that is what it still remains with a purported second wave in several parts of India. Let’s now dwell on some of the ticklish aspects of gifting.

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An interesting aspect of gifting is the treatment given to the price tag of the gift. I have noticed that some people ensure that the price tag on the gift is removed/smudged. They do not want the recipient to know the monetary value of the gift. I too generally subscribe to this philosophy. But because of this practice, there have been instances where my kin have asked for the bill (of the gift) because it did not appeal to them and so, they wanted to exchange it!! When the price tag of the gift is left intact, it is a little dicey to deal with. The intent behind leaving the price tag is what is difficult to fathom. Whether it testifies the munificence ( or frugality!! ) of the person gifting or a gentle reminder of how much you owe him or her when the time to pay back comes, is not easy to interpret.

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There are some who do not indulge in gifting in kind. Wedded to Benjamin Franklin’s philosophy – Nothing but money is sweeter than honey – they believe in gifting crisp currency notes. The reasons for this could be many – like not having the time to pick up the right gift or simply leaving it to the recipient to buy what he or she wants. This is real laissez faire!! But how much is too much will still have to be determined in a clinical fashion for each occasion. Inflation would also have to be taken into account. I remember, as a child, attending marriages where a close relative of the bride/groom would sit with a paper and pen making a note of how much cash had been gifted by which relative/friend. I found that practice somewhat obnoxious and even inquired my parents about it. Their reply was a real eye opener for me. The cash gifts were like a soft loan or an interest free loan to be repaid only when there was a marriage in the donor’s family. [Gift vouchers can be seen as a via media. No hard cash, but the voucher has to be redeemed on one specific online platform or in one particular store within a fixed time frame].

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To conclude, each person has his own way of viewing the process of gifting. There is no right or wrong way. What is important is that the person who is gifting must be comfortable and the sensitivities of the recipient must be respected. While materialistic gifts are not to be completely dismissed, there is no denying the fact that presence is more important than presents. But the best of both worlds would be presence with presents! What say?!😊

Disclaimer, claims no credit for any image posted in this blog post. The images are the copyright of their original owners. The links if any are shared from various platforms only to make the post more interesting. The copyrights of these rest with the respective owners and producers.

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