This is the season for giving but have you wondered why you give?
Someone I know once told me that gifts are often for the giver. We give to show we care, the size of our gifts or the monetary value or rarity of our gifts are often designed to create an impression on others or in some circumstances for us to gain favors from them in return.
The same wise person who told me that gifts are often for the giver prides himself for not having given a single Christmas present to any of his children. He said that the two gifts he does give instead are the intangible but priceless gift of roots and the gift of wings.
Roots to remind his children of how far they’ve come, not so much to boast about their pedigree but more as lessons from their ancestors’ past.
Wings to prompt his children to be independent, to be able to thrive without the need of being over dependent on others.
He makes a lot of sense.
Material gifts can only satisfy to a certain extent, what with “planned obsolescence” built into most products so that people want more of the latest as evil retailers work overtime to make consumers part with their hard-earned money. Once kids get used to getting Christmas gifts every year, it can be hard to yearn them off these gifts.
And too many kids in Singapore are overly-reliant on domestic helpers (“maids”) to do the simplest of chores. I suppose with both parents having to work to eke out a living in this expensive place, this phenomenon is somewhat inevitable but it is a sad reflection of the society we live in. So teaching children to grow “wings” is invaluable indeed.
Personally I think a little something doesn’t harm anyone, kids especially shouldn’t feel left out at times like these when all their friends around them are being inundated with Christmas presents.
This year I’m giving everyone books. Books contain invaluable lessons that last long after I am gone; books won’t harm anyone, (the right books, that is), books are easy to use, nearly indestructible, highly portable and energy-efficient (I’m NOT taking about Kindles, I’m referring to good old-fashioned books) and books are the best means of transmitting knowledge the human race has ever known. Though a book can’t compare to an Xbox or a diamond solitaire, the gift of books I bestow is a reflection of the affection in my heart for the people I care most for.
Books will never become obsolete.