GIFT- GIVING is for the GIVER and the RECEIVER 

Gift-Giving is for the Giver 

Gift-giving is based on motive.  It stems from having a sincere desire to help someone.  Giving a gift for any other reason is suspect.  Once someone decides to give a gift, should he expect the receiver to reciprocate?

Marcel Mauss, the French sociologist, argued that a gift is never “free,” that it creates a bond between the giver and the receiver because a part of the giver in intertwined with the gift.  It becomes part of the giver, and this unity creates a bond between him and the receiver which causes the receiver to want to reciprocate.  I am not sure what the reason, but humans do have a sense of obligation to return a gift for a gift.

   We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

 Winston Churchill 

Churchill seems to be advocating that there should be no strings attached to giving–that giving amplifies the life of the giver and that should be enough.  Nothing should be expected in return, nor should the receiver feel any obligation to reciprocate.  Many sociologists maintain that gift-giving is based on social norms which may dictate that giving and receiving constitute a relationship between parties, and if one wants to continue the relationship, giving, receiving and reciprocating are expected.

Gift-Giving:  Is It for the Receiver?  

At first glance one can conclude that it is the receiver who benefits from gift-giving.  He has a gift and has the option to reciprocate or not.  It is really not that simple.

 If the receiver chooses to accept the gift and not reciprocate, how does this affect his relationship with the giver?  He has an option to send a “Thank You Note,” and let that be sufficient, say nothing or say “I received your gift, but I am sorry that I cannot give you anything.”    Which would you choose?  If the relationship is unimportant, either would suffice.  However, if it is, a decision that maintains positive feedback will have to be made.  This takes deep contemplation and forecasting of future feelings based on the kind of decision made.

A moral evaluation could be “It is better to give than to receive.”    That depends on what one is giving.  I would surmise that the writer of this statement had reference to giving and expressing  divine qualities.  It that sense, it is better to give, because expressing good qualities helps the giver overcome selfishness, self-love and perhaps greed.  On the other hand, if the giver is giving to make someone like him better, receive a tax deduction or influence the receiver in a way that works for the giver, nothing comes from giving.  Also, giving and receiving to comply with social norms only, does little to help the giver.

 The receiver may be helped because the gift is exactly what he needed to overcome a hardship.  Materially, he is helped, but morally he may not be so.  Why?  If the receiver has the attitude that someone owes him something and he owes nothing, giving to him could be a hindrance because it simply confirms negative expectations.  However, if the receiver sees and understands the sincerity and thoughtfulness of the giver, humility and gratitude may move him to respond in kind in similar situations.

Gift-giving will be thought, spoken about and acted upon in the coming months.  Reflect on what it means to you and those whom you give or receive gifts.   Be motivated by your highest level of thought and you will be a respected giver and a humble receiver.

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Mom-and-Pop-Online-Stuff.Com Says: It’s Halloween Time!

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Pumpkin Time Comes Alive!

 Pumpkin time was a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 on the farm where I grew up.   Don’t get me wrong, anxious kids awaited Halloween, but with far less enthusiasm than adults and kids do now.   Like today, we carved pumpkins, lit lanterns and told stories and watched plays–just in a more conservative way.  Our costumes were “too-big”, old clothes that did not represent anyone or anything, except to make us look ugly.   Faces were painted with easy-off white chalk and black coal.  The idea was to look ghostly and “witchy.”   No one thought about being a Superman or Cinderella.

The neat thing about pumpkin time was that many neighbors grew pumpkins in their own fields and all we had to do was ask for one and it was given to us freely.   Hungry kids dug out the mushy insides,  fried the seeds and had a munching good time.

School Plays and Stories Highlighted Halloween 

As I reflect on fond memories, I see a bright-eyed kid waiting impatiently for a homemade curtain to rise, indicating the school play was about to begin.  The actors were not sophisticated actors and actresses, but neighborhood high school kids from the adjoining farm.   I saw a hand flip the light switch, darkness settled around me, and I found myself inching closer to Mom and Dad.

 Slowly, a stream of light trickled across the stage and the play begin.  Spooky noises came from farm tools :  the rattling of chains, banging on buckets and heavy items dropped on the floor.  “Whoo-oo-oo-oo!”  I inched a little closer.  All of these made a four-year-old pretty jumpy!  But .  .  .  when the scary stuff was over, prepared family recipes and hot popcorn made it all worthwhile.  Highlighting Halloween time, were the games that adults and children played together.  Pumpkin time was at its best!

Halloween Today:  Let’s fast forward a few decades and look at Halloween today.  Begin with the hundreds of TV ads announcing impending events, uniquely dressed ghosts, Cleopatras, Cinderellas and Disney characters reminding us that it’s time to buy a costume.   Pumpkins have artistic designs that look nothing like the original.  They almost need a highly trained artist to create them.  Witches and dragons are created in elegant costumes in kitchens that every housewife would love to replace theirs with.  Commercials rang out with messages that let you believe “this is the best Halloween yet!”

As the great day approaches, homes become “Halloweenie” inside and out.  Money flows!  Halloween is only second to Christmas in money spent for the occasion.  Wow!  We have been mesmerized very well!  Industry makers have made us feel that not only do we have to dress Johnny in the “coolest” costume possible, but moms and dads have to win the best-dressed trophy also.

Somehow, I escaped most of this mesmerism.  I simply watch it all today, but there was a time my participation involved purchasing a bag of candy for the school party, 4 to 5 bags to give out to neighbor’s kids and making sure my kids had fairly cute costumes.  After all, I did not want them to feel  .  .   .   different.  I also made my way down the street with them as they banged on doors to get their own bags filled with candy.    Well, I guess I had uh .  .  .  limited brainwashing.

Movies Play a Role in Halloween Time 

Let’s not forget the role movies play during pumpkin time.  The industry spends millions of dollars making movies that frighten us to death!  Technology allows them to make monsters so creepy and scary our children have nightmares.  But, we keep going.  Each year, it happens all over again–just a wee bit creepier.

I am watching a channel called “Food,” and it is simply incredible what the participants are doing!  They have created chocolate and sugar-coated creatures that one would be afraid to pick-up, much less eat.  I am astounded!  What is next!  I suppose the motive is to promote happiness by instilling “screams.”   I am not sure about that, but what I am sure about is, “It’s Halloween Time!” 

If you have a Facebook or Twitter friend who wants to understand the”super time” Americans have during Halloween, pass this along!

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