The end of the year is approaching. Tonight, I am wrapping gifts, engaging in the act of giving. These gifts I am wrapping may be dismissed or disregarded or welcomed and appreciated. I do not know. I do know that the person receiving will likely not return anything to me. This I know from years of interacting with the person and never receiving anything in return. At this point, I am torn between two thoughts. I like the act of giving. In fact wrapping these particular gifts gave me joy as I am wrapping them. I imagine the delight in the person, (even though I don’t know if that will happen). I hope the receiver will enjoy the gifts as they are meant to be enjoyed. Or they would be shoved into a corner of the house forgotten or perhaps regifted to someone else. At worst, they will be thrown away like garbage or resented at being forced to feel gratitude toward me. More than likely, the gifts will be forgotten in some unused corner of the closet or a room where unsolicited things go to die.
Is it a foolish act to keep giving to a person who never appreciates or enjoys the gift? Or the act of giving without receiving is in fact the epitome of selflessness? There is a saying in Buddhism that the receiver needs to be worthy of the gift in order for the act of giving to be a worthy act. At the same time, my friend the poet, Michael Schmeltzer once said, “Whatever happens to the gift after isn’t as important as the fact I made a gift the only way I know how– and I chose to give it away.” This quote by the way is my most favorite quote of all time as I often wrestle with mixed feelings when the act of giving — material or emotional — produces mixed results. Sometimes, in spite of myself, I would want the people to enjoy the items like I would have, and would want to see some form of expressed thoughts. Of course not all of us think and act the same. When I forget that everyone reacts according to his or her own way of living, I would feel disappointed.
Tonight as I am wrapping each item carefully with glittery holiday paper and placing them carefully in each shiny gift bag, I keep a mindful thought that not all giving results in storybook-ending. The receivers may very well regard the items with very little thought. And if this happens, it needs not concern me. After I place the gifts into each receiver’s hand and let go of all expectation, the fate of the gifts are no longer within my concern. I would have already obtained the joy of giving. I hope that they will gain the joy of receiving but if they do not, I can live with it.