“Why did you bother?”
“Oh! Actually I already have it”.
” Why did you go to so much trouble? We are not about designer brands. I’d be too cautious wearing this”.
“This looks like it’s too small for me. Don’t worry! I’ll give it to my sister.”
“Isn’t this what you got for me last time too?”
“Oh I could’ve gotten this from the neighborhood store. You didn’t have to get it for me from Hajj”.
“If I knew you had space, I could’ve asked my mom to give you a few outfits for me. That would’ve been a better gift”.
“Thank you. Thanks for thinking of us”.
The ordeal that some people go to in order to find the perfect gift is only known to them. We just stand on the receiving end, with a commentary on the gift. We don’t know what it cost them (usually) or how much effort and thought they put into it. To subject them to socially inappropriate and insensitive sentences as a form of showing acknowledgment is the last thing they deserve. But we don’t care! Why? Just cuz! Did we ask them to bring something back from the trip for us? Did they think we needed this? Our lives were perfect without their gift.
But what we forget in these moments of flippancy is that while we think that WE are being cool and disconnected, the person who is giving us the gift is learning a lot about how we were raised and how we are potentially raising our kids.
Eid is around the corner and I’m sure we will run into these social situations where we will be exchanging gifts. And it will always be followed with an awkward “give” sentence and an awkward “take” sentence.
It’s always going to be awkward unless the gift comes from someone who regularly gives us gifts and of whose generosity and thoughtfulness we have an entitlement to, like spouses, parents, siblings, close friends, children.
But it can be less awkward if we learn to care for the feeling behind the gesture and not weigh the cost and pressure of the gift.
Sincerity in expressing our feelings is an amazing quality. It needs no words. It is almost a spirit quality. It is felt.
When we sincerely say thanks for a gift, people know. It doesn’t hurt to say a few nice things about the gift too. Showing that we feel loved and respected because someone thought of us goes a long way.
I usually pack gifts for kids at the mosque for Eid (even though I hardly ever go for the actual Salah due to my kids being extremely disruptive) but I stay back and distribute gifts. I can tell the shy kids from the loud ones, the sweet ones from the spicy ones, the loving ones from the caring ones just by the way they accept the gifts. But I can always tell that kids are sincere in how they accept gifts. That’s something we could all learn from kids. How to be over-the-moon happy just because someone extended a wrapped box to us.