Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Gift that Keeps Giving

This morning's Torah discussion at synagogue was about giving with an open heart. When one gives with an open heart, it feels really good. So who is the recipient? The giver receives as much or more benefit as the recipient.

The question for discussion was "When or how have you felt the most open-hearted giving?" I shared that the most satisfying gifts I've given have been spontaneous. In a social system most gifts are expected. It's almost a gift tax. You are a guest at an occasion, you give a gift. More and more we are actually instructed, or at least guided, by gift registries. They are practical, and they prevent a lot of wasted efforts and resources, but there is not much pleasure for either giver or receiver. We both cross something off our lists - I have "taken care" of The Gift; they can cross off "mixing bowls".

Here is a recent spontaneous gift story. My friend Don stops for coffee en route to synagogue, and has taken to walking in with a large paper cup of java. Paper cups really bother me. I was shopping for some item on line, and noticed the store was featuring travel mugs, so I sprang for one to give Don. I think this gift cost $10. He loves it and uses it faithfully. On Saturday mornings now Don greets me by saluting me with his travel mug from across the room. He and I debate about who has gotten a bigger kick out of this, him or me. (And no more paper cups, so that irritation is gone and replaced with a wink and a smile.) It is a particular pleasure to give a gift and actually see it used and giving the recipient pleasure. Ya' feel sooooooooo clever.

Any spontaneous gift stories out there?

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