Birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine-day: Does love really require gift exchanges? 

 As kids in school, we studied The Gift of the Magi by O Henry  in high school English.

Published: 26th November 2018 09:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th November 2018 09:18 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: As kids in school, we studied The Gift of the Magi by O Henry  in high school English. This famous story is of a loving couple, too poor to buy each other Christmas gusta, and too desperately in love to not do that. One sells off their long hair to buy watch straps for the other, while they sell off the beloved watch to buy combs.

We also read The nightingale and the rose by Oscar Wilde that year, with its story of the sacrifice it took to make a rose red a precious gift for a beloved, and how it is tossed aside for something else, casting away in that bitter act what it meant to sacrifice for love’s sake.

Between those two tragic love stories, our heartless English teacher had us teenagers in tears, more so because we were expected to write ‘precis’ versions.  Does love really require gift exchanges? Would it really be impossible to love and be loved without ever exchanging gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, festivals, etc? Is it humanly possible to be perfect gift givers, or are designed to be tragic magi in our gusta, irrespective of our levels of poverty? 

So much of our culture is built around ceremonies of gift giving. Traditions dictate what gifts are appropriate and when. There is a whole list of what to give for which anniversary. One could interpret it as anything from a handwritten card to money, to property, or, going by certain movies, divorce papers! 

These gifting protocols may have helped some people but for many others, it also builds expectations. One is ‘supposed to’ give wood for the fifth anniversary. Sure, you could Google something that sounds appropriately woody enough, or close enough to hopefully pass, but then, it also has other expectations that it needs to be personal, it needs to have value for the recipient, something that they can cherish because otherwise, it is just a useless gesture.

Why has gifting come to occupy such an important place in relationships? As a  measure for how much one loves the other in its physicality and demonstrability, gifts seem to offer some value, but it really is hollow if gifting is the  only measure of love offered. If those high school stories really hold any truth, it is this: Gifts aren’t as important as love. So this Christmas season, gift only if you really want to. 
The author is a counsellor at InnerSight. 

Stay up to date on all the latest Bengaluru news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp