|Phoro: Jane M. Sawyer via Morgue File|
Some people are much disappointed and quite indignant if "presents" do not buy affections, respect, deference, conformity, and other things that we all like. But this expectation is altogether unreasonable. Even children are seldom attached by gifts*. Their pleasure in the gift seldom refers to the giver. "Love for love" is the only barter, and we can all see when "presents" mean love. The very look--the tone of voice, may change the whole aspect of the thing. Indeed looks and tones are very important in these matters. The manner may be awkward--the eye averted--the voice constrained--the heart may shine through all and sanctify the offering. In either case, we care more for the spirit than for the action. "Hints for an Essay on Presents" by the author of a "New Home." Godey's Magazine and Lady's Book Jan 1845; 30, 28.So remember this season of holiday exchanges, you won't buy anyone's love when you go to the store, so make each gift a "spontaneous offering from heart to heart." We can dream, right?
I also enjoyed this article for the hint of first year writing student in the opening sentence: "Back in the day" we used to know how to give gifts. Nowadays we're so world-weary and cynical, gift-giving is a much more difficult form of exchange. Seriously, I used to get essays all the time: "since the beginning of time, man has had a love affair with the car (or other historical inaccuracy)" or "In the 1950s, women knew how to keep a clean house; nowadays children are dying from germs they pick up at home." Some days I can appreciate where I am now and where I came from. A true gift.