Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


Gift Giving

Oh goodie!  A present!

But wait. Is it freely given, or does it come with strings attached? And will I now be expected to reciprocate?


For some people, gift giving is easy. They have a knack for choosing just the right thing and the right time to give the gift.They seem to know all the etiquette involved and do everything right.

With various celebrations, including Mother’s Day, coming up, I’ve been pondering the idea of gift giving. “What? When? Whether? Why?” and many other questions roiled around in my head.

I found myself thinking about why people give gifts. Sometimes the giving is done from sheer love and generosity; other times under duress and necessity. It’s a complicated custom, this gift giving. To make it even more complicated, not all gifts are tangible items. They could take the form of favours, time, free labour, or many other non-material things.

Here are a few of the reasons people give gifts:

  • to make someone happy
  • to even a perceived score
  • to ingratiate themselves with the receiver
  • to get something from the receiver
  • because duty demands that they give a gift on this occasion
  • to get rid of something they didn’t want anyway
  • to win someone’s love
  • to gain influence
  • to stay in the receiver’s good graces

I’m beginning to wonder if I like the idea of gift giving so much anymore. To my mind, the only worthwhile reason for giving a gift  is the first one – to make someone happy.

Have you ever received a gift that is obviously of no value to the giver? Does it make you wonder what they were thinking? It could be a case of “This item is no good to me but I know who would like to have it.” Or it could be, “Duty says I have to give a gift. I know, I’ll get rid of this ugly thing I’ve never liked anyway.”

The first seems acceptable to me, but the second makes me wonder what the giver thinks of the person to whom they are giving the “ugly thing.”

Have you ever received a gift that is shabby and conveys that the person thinks it’s good enough for you?

Have you ever received a gift of such value that you feel you’ll never be able to reciprocate and so you will always be beholden to the giver if you accept?

Have you ever received a gift that shows that the giver gave no thought at all to whether or not it might please you?

Gift giving can be complicated. Do you have a gift story to share with us?