Birthday parties, making cards, opening presents are some of my 4 year old's latest craze. With every nook and corner in this country decked and decorated for Christmas now, wherever there are boxes gift wrapped, she wants to open them!! Anyway, my first Christmas outside of India, I went all emotional about the giving season! Somehow I didn't think gifts were associated with our festivals. Even the bakshish/betta was associated with irritation and not joy of giving. It even made me think we were too self-centric. But the returning /exchange of gifts done on the day after Christmas came as quite a shock! Returning gifts??? It seemed like the most outrageous thing to do. To me, it was an insult to the gift giver who spent time and energy to get it. Ofcourse, as always I have a few flashback incidents which is why I think too much into this gifting thing.
A friend of mine was getting married. I asked her what she wanted as a wedding gift and she said she wanted a handbag. The day of the wedding, I was at a store, overwhelmed by the different colours, varieties of handbags that hung all around. Ultimately I got one, presented it to her, chatted with friends, enjoyed the grand meal and forgot about it. A few weeks later I went to see her at her(mother's) house when she had come to visit. Her mother asked me to wait saying that she would be back soon from handbag shopping with her husband! I was totally shocked and hurt, excused myself and spent a few weeks brooding about it!
Another time, there was this neighbour whose sister was getting married and she only invited a select few from the neighbourhood. My grandfather who was this proud அந்தகாலத்து person took offense to his omission. Since I was the only one with a vehicle(bicycle, hee.. hee..) at that time, the lady needed my help to move some things for the function. In the process, she kept saying things like how costly weddings are, how she hates to burden people with gift buying by inviting them etc.
Now if you think cash is the best gift, how much is not too much(or too little)! Years back, I attended a birthday party of one of my (phoren!) cousin. After candle blowing, cake cutting/eating, games etc., they announced the 'gift opening ceremony'. All of us had 'what?' look on our faces as gift opening was never done public! Like in movies, she ripped open the lovely gift wraps(what a waste!), opening the gifts one by one and announcing who got her what! Among the gifts was an envelope with a 10 rupee note inside. Even though this was probably more useful than the umpteen gifts she got and even adequate for a girl her age, the display of his humble 10 Re. note made the giver's face go pale!
Gift giving and receiving are joy only among close friends/relatives. I cannot seem to agree with the honour tag associated with invitation/மொய் etc. Even though I want to and try to be a selfless giver, when things go wrong in a relationship, I cannot but help thinking about all that I'd done for them! But I'm slowly trying to accept the idea that once you gift someone, the item belongs to them. Whether they use it, return it, exchange it or give it away to someone is their choice!