Gift, Unwrapped!

18 Mar

Gifting7Swam(il)y* has recently been invited to a few events by near & dear. The list of events varied from occasional housewarming to oft-celebrated birthdays & anniversaries to enchanting spiritual ceremonies. Like any invitee, Swamily too ended up picking gifts for each event and got them wrapped in glossy paper with curious designs. Invariably at each event, there was a lot of curiosity about the gifts – not just ours, of course. Curiosity led to inevitable action, i.e., tearing up the gift wrapper to get a glimpse of the gift itself!

GiftWrap25The torn away, crumpled wrappers, lying discarded, quietly in a corner of the room, where the event happened in all its glory not so long ago and the gifts they securely (& secretly!) held till the event got over, which were now piled up to be displayed in strategic locations within the home, got Swamy thinking about us humans and our fanciful ways with gifts & wrappers…

How many of us have wondered if there is any connection between the value of the gift and the design or quality of the wrapper?

GiftWrap18The number of people who spend time in choosing the wrapper is almost negligible as very few spend quality time in choosing the gift itself, which is typically determined by past (typically unsavory) memories about the recipient, what [s]he has gifted during one of those innumerable vague events that the giver hosted long ago and the budget approved by the home minister (whoever it is, depending on whether the ‘alpha’ is ‘ida’ or ‘pingala’)!

Is the gift bought to show off giver’s stature / taste or receiver’s need / taste?

GiftWrap14Many a time, it’s the price or budget that decides what the gift would be. Inevitably, the recipient’s (potentially tumultuous) past too has a bearing on the decision. As far as stature goes, if, for whatever unexplained reason, we chose an expensive (strictly in our view, obviously) gift, then we may for a moment consider a very glossy looking golden or silver wrapper to showcase how ostentatious the gift within is, to all other gift givers attending that event. Taste is probably the last thing in either the giver or receiver’s mind, though it has the potential to change the whole gifting equation and make it a lasting memory, to be cherished and possibly reciprocated, for a long time!

How many of us extend as much care in unwrapping as in seeing the gift within?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAMost of us tear it up in a hurry, not even pausing for a moment to look at the design, color and quality of the wrapper. Very few recipients of gifts are careful (& artful) in making the act of unwrapping look as elegant as wrapping, which in all probability was done by a pro, who does it for a living, mostly positioned in a not-so-glamorous corner of the shop, not far away from the crowded billing counter.

How many of us have marveled at the care & craft of the person who wraps the gifts?

GiftWrap20In all probability, the only thing we might remember about the whole wrapping event is, pushing the poor wrapperer (or is it wrapperist, considering [s]he is truly an artist, even though we pretend to have absolutely no time to spare to appreciate their artistry) to get it done quickly as we’re perennially in a hurry for anything and everything in Life. If at all we’ve responded to them in any way, that would be for rejecting the expensive wrapper and choosing a free or cheaper one instead. Umm.. why bother to care for someone who neither gifts nor receives it from us, eh!

How many of us preserve the wrapper for reuse?

GiftWrap2Hardly a handful. Irrespective of whether you head some kind of a Green council at your workplace or residential area, it’s as rare as an UFO actually landing in your backyard (& quite possibly, to your utter bafflement, the aliens visiting are not tiny green thingies with large browless pitch black eyes popping out of their bald head, as portrayed in countless movies) that you would’ve thought about gift wrapper reuse. Fact remains, they’re connected with not only environment, but are an artwork by themselves, though hardly appreciated by the giver or receiver of gifts!

How long is the gift (& the wrapper) cherished & remembered?

GiftWrap21Gift – probably remembered until it starts gathering dust in a shelf, alongside many other such gifts, thereby eventually – and inevitably – becoming one among the many gifts received over a period of time. There’s a possibility that they’ll be remembered just in time for next gifting occasion to the gift giver, as the act has to be reciprocated, when the receiver and giver swap roles, willingly or not.

Wrapper – most probably remembered (or not at all) for just a few hours, until they are torn upon and trashed. If you belong to the odd / crazy tribe of nerds who gather gift wraps for preserving or reusing, then their longevity could be as long as the next gifting occasion, or even your lifetime!

How many gifts inspire (or not) reciprocation?

Christmas box giftsMost certainly all do, because the size and price are eternally etched in the memory of the receiver, exclusively for the purpose of reciprocation (or retribution). But there’ll only be a handful – in the entire known humanity – who enjoy the occasion and opportunity to gift someone something, thereby ending up spending quality time and effort (& money), each and every time, to carefully handpick a gift (& invariably the wrapper)!

What’s important – wrapper, gift or neither?

GiftWrap9Most gifts are given to ensure social expectations aren’t violated, thereby negating any opportunity to consider them as important. Most gift givers (& receivers) hardly bother about the wrapper, thereby making it a no contest between the mighty gift and poor wrapper. Very few gifts are actually hand picked and packed with utmost care, reflecting the love and affection the giver has towards the receiver, making both the gift and wrapper noteworthy.

If you ask Swamy, he’ll most probably frown and say it’s neither, but the commerce, stupid! For, which came first – gifting or selling (gifts) – is possibly as hair-splitting as the chicken or egg question? Ahem, anyway, in the light of all the deep insights Swamy has shared about the art of gifting and the craft of gifts (& wrappers, of course), now consider this for a moment (or more, if you wish)…

What if you’re the gift? And the all the nonsense surrounding you as a mere facade is the wrapper?

Gifting8In a Life governed, and possibly even directed, by a thoughtless (not mindless, mind you) society, the wrapper has naturally gained prominence over time, compared to the gift. Everyone either marvels or repels at the mere sight of the wrapper. So wrappers change over time into shiny ones with minimalist patterns or colorful ones with creative patterns, to satiate the endless thirst of a society, hell bent on hanging high all those who dare to think about the gift within, which happens to be less than a handful. Old wrappers get discarded at the whim of some skeptic ones and new ones are picked up with utmost care, worried about someone septic. Still, most action, all along the long, often pointless, Life happens, and ends, at just the wrapper level. The gift goes unnoticed during the lifetime. Or many a lifetime. Few gifts are remembered and cherished, after their lifetime.

GiftWrap3How sad, and typically human, considering the Creator – boundlessly benevolent and endlessly creative – endowed each gift, i.e., creation, without discrimination, with the ability to realize the value of the gift. Just looking at what the Creator has done with each and every single one of his (or her, just in case if you, dear reader, happen to be a feminist in disguise, waiting patiently for an eternity to bait any unsuspecting writer making even an oblique reference to the Creator as masculine) creation would take our breath away. But where is the time for us fools to marvel at the magnificence of creation all around, above and beneath us, as we continue to be lost in umpteen pointless pursuits in the name of success, not just losing sight of things worth observing around, but also about ourselves. The compulsively stupid species that we are, with a ridiculously overrated sixth sense, in our society-abiding, self-preserving wayward ways, have got so stuck to the wrappers – however marvelous they are – that we have almost completely forgotten to comprehend, nurture and cherish the gift called Life, the way it is, which remains, for most beings, for many lifetimes, as just a Gift, never Unwrapped!

 * Swamy + family = Swamily

Note: Thanks to Swamy’s colleague (& ment[o]ee) Chan (far from Chinese & very Indian) who triggered this blog post, through a simple mail thread about a quote on the humble wrapper ;).

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Love + Gratitude > @PrakashSwamy

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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4 Responses to “Gift, Unwrapped!”

  1. Dani May 22, 2015 at 3:48 am #

    nice flow of thoughts swobb…

    unlike most others i always open guft wrappers carefully and even savour them…

    nice read 🙂

  2. Ekanthalingam Amirthalingam March 21, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    Superooooooooooooo super post Prakash!!! I am not sure about other gifts but you surely have been gifted the most priceless gift of expressing your views/thoughts in simple words so wonderfully!!! Loved reading this post and gave me answers to many questions I had about the custom of ‘Gifting’… I have always found it difficult to place a BUDGET as such on the value of gift based on the relationship… No matter how much I try, this thing bothers my feeling of gifting… I loved the classification of touchpoints in the experience of gifting… Thanks and God bless you to gift many more things to this world (including your upcoming book)

    • prakashswamy March 21, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

      Thank you Ekanth for your kind (& exuberant, as ever 🙂 words. Until my book(s) are out & the world rejoices, unwrapping of my Gift will be w.i.p!

  3. Soumya March 21, 2014 at 1:36 am #

    Beautiful post, TM. Truly a gift to the reader!

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