The title is pretty misleading since this isn’t any kind of a discourse on how to go about choosing a gift for someone for an occasion. In fact, I am not interested in debating whether it is important and mandatory or not to give something physical and solid to express your best wishes or convey your gratitude or simply put across your feelings for them. I feel it is futile.
In the age of unparalleled globalised connectivity, going to an actual shop and spending few hours on deliberating upon a piece of chinaware or a hard bound book is equivalent to missing out of on at least hundred tweets! But then, why do need to even step out of your room? Click, click, and click! You have received an item from so and so, which was ordered from EBay/ Amazon/Jabong… And the list is dangerously growing ever since someone added the alphabet ‘e’ in front of the word ‘shopping’. And then, there are others who pretend to ridicule and discard gifts or presents as childish and follow it up with a ‘Guys, grow up!’ show off. And still, there are some who coolly post a hurried ‘Congratulations’ or ‘HBTY’ (Stands for Happy Birthday to You, in case you couldn’t figure it out!)’ on the Facebook wall and think that’s more than enough.
Well, everyone is right and no one is wrong. But I am just different.
Gifts are an obsession for me. I gift my friends on their birthdays or when they rank amongst the best students in the class or when they get a job or a promotion and the list goes on. Now, the funny thing is I gift my friends on normal days too! I have to give something, which could be anything, to that room neighbour who irons my clothes or help me braid my hair whenever I ask her, that classmate of mine who photocopies his own notes for me for a presentation next day, that other batch mate who helps me out with an assignment a day before exams. It is not like I don’t say ‘Thank You’ then and there. I do. But when I back it up with a small key chain/a handmade card/a bar of chocolate/a bookmark, it stays on as an adorable reminder of that fact I indeed meant it. It is like saying ‘Thank You’ in my own personal way.
The selection of the souvenir, however, is not random. A certain amount of retrospection and estimation precedes it. What is my equation with the intended recipient? Is he/she one of my closest friends or just a pal or an acquaintance? The classification is important for me as it helps to prioritize on how much time and effort to put in to fix upon a decent token of appreciation. I certainly don’t wish to overdose some unassuming classmate with a personalised token for fixing my cycle! It will just lead pure awkwardness for both the parties.
So, what is it that I can possible give to that helpful classmate? Books and comics serve as good options. They are neutral and almost everyone reads them. However, it becomes tricky when it comes to matching my pick to person’s taste. I once gave one of my favourite books to a friend and later came to know that he didn’t fancy it that much. I am not saying that people should like whatever I gift them. They have all the right to dislike it, loathe it and turn it up in a trash. But then, if I spend some time in picking up a particular book over all others books, I better make sure that it belongs to a genre which the person generally enjoys. That’s precisely the point behind the whole thought process. The effort which you put behind choosing a gift holds as much significance as the gift itself. That shows that at least for a while, you thought about that person, his/her likes, habits, preferences, lifestyle before making your decision. You paused and dedicated few minutes of your life to that person. That itself is speaks about the worth of the person on your life.
I generally craft personalised items for my closest friends. I love doing art work and usually make bookmarks, hand bound notebooks etc. and pair it up with a greeting card. Or sometimes, I edit photographs and give hard copies printed. Photographs, I feel, are one of the simplest static memoirs and yet, they evoke the strongest and the most dynamic emotions in us.
And all this while, I too have been at the receiving end of some of the sweetest surprises of my life. A friend gifted me a book which I initially wanted to borrow from him; another one gave me my birthday gift at 2 am in the night, 4 months after my birthday and just two hours before I left for home for winter vacations; my internship roommates surprised me with advance birthday greeting cards; my wing mates conjured a full-fledged cake out of thin air, right after I had treated them for the same; and yet another one turned up at my internship residence, just to see me till the airport! There are many more such instances but none of them can beat gestures of kindness and benevolence which usually set me off to return the generosity in kind. When someone does something touching for you, it is equivalent to being gifted, sometimes much more than that.
A gift makes you feel wanted, loved and cared for. It makes you nostalgic and fills you with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the fact that someone somewhere someday for some time thought about of you. Only you.