... [To] take something from yourself, to give to another, that is humane and gentle and never takes away as much comfort as it brings again. --Thomas More
We take different kinds of pleasure in giving. Perhaps the purest is the gift to a child so young it doesn't really know who the gift came from; the pure joy that the teddy bear or pull-toy produces is our regard, unmixed by any expectation of return.
When children get older, we want something back from them: gratitude, respect. The gift is less pure. When lovers exchange gifts, their pleasure is often tinged with anxiety: Did I give more than I got? Did I get more than I gave? Or with power: He'll always remember where he got that shirt; she owes me something for the fur jacket.
To friends and relations our gifts reflect many things: our appreciation of their lives, our shared memories, our prosperity. We tend to give in a spirit of self-expression.
Perhaps the closest we can come to a pure gift is an anonymous one; a gift of volunteer work, of blood, or a contribution to a charity. Such a gift which can never be acknowledged or returned by those it comforts can heal our spirits when they are wearied by too much ego.
The gift of myself can be a gift to myself.
From the book: The Promise of a New Day by Karen Casey and Martha Vanceburg
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