Monday, August 6, 2018

Philosophy Behind Gift Giving

Gifts are very much part of the  Korean culture.  Distinguishing between a bribe and a gift is not always easy. A gift is given without any thought of return. This is usually the case. This may not be true in the world of business but in ordinary daily life, giving and receiving gifts is a sign of the regard one person has for another.

In a diocesan bulletin, a teacher writes about gifts and what they have meant to him over the years. He begins by stating that a gift is a medium expressing the feelings of the heart. Strengthens our positive emotions and solidarity between people. Nine out of ten Koreans are happy in giving gifts but not always. They can be a burden.

Traveling overseas the thought of bringing back a present was a concern. Husbands who take trips overseas, a gift for the wife looms large, especially in sorrow that she is not making the trip. Until they find the right present they will be stressed out. Once found, peace returns to the face.

On trips overseas, he has returned with gifts for his wife he thought appropriate. However, the results were not what he had envisioned. It is not easy to pick a gift that the recipient finds gratifying. Both have to lower their expectations.

Often at the school where he teaches he buys others a cup of coffee or a drink, they often after a trip come back with a ballpoint pen or a keychain or similar gift and he has a drawer full of these mementos. In the beginning, he was thankful but over time the giver and the receiver found it a burden. It took some time for this custom to disappear.

Over the years he has given and received many gifts. Many have been given with a pure heart but also even a small gift often is a burden when given to people with whom we are concerned. However, a gift from the heart moves one greatly. 

He remembers during teachers' training many years ago he was the homeroom teacher for a first-year girls' high school. It was Teachers' Day which he had forgotten and as he was entering the teachers' room he was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a red carnation was pinned to his lapel. He still remembers this with emotion.

Giving a present requires a little bit of  'savoir-faire'  a basic technique of some kind is required and the writer admits that his wife has more than he has. When he has been absent on a couple of occasions, she has changed the interior of many of the rooms and papered the walls and brought some articles which he had desired. All done without any inconvenience to the writer giving him great pleasure.

Learning an important lesson, during his wife's pilgrimage to Europe he took it upon himself to clean the bathroom. It took three days. He got rid of all the mold and dirty spots, coated the tile floor. It was a difficult task but he did it with joy. On the return of his wife, she was very happy with what she found and he decided to find other ways of giving gifts in the future.

His gifts in the past were not the kind that gave emotional joy; gifts were given mostly out of habit. More than concern for the other person was a concern for himself. In the future, gifts with interest in the other, filled with love and the money value of the gift of little importance. The amount of sincerity involved and the joy of making another person happy will be his interest.

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