Saturday, April 23, 2011
Return (verb) gifts - that’s what we ought to do, but of course, we’re too socially correct for that. Return (adj.) gifts, then - uniquely Indian terminology, I think. Party favours, souvenirs... makes them sound optional. In truth, the only option you have is, distribute or disintegrate. Traditional weddings ended with guests taking away a memento – a coconut, a fruit, betel nut and leaves, a hanky – now it’s nothing less than a “gift item” that had better cost a respectable sum. No wonder weddings, forget marriages, are daunting propositions now.
Remember the days when a scented eraser, a book, or a cricket ball was a birthday gift welcomed with whoops of delight? Now something like that is too cheap even to qualify as a ‘return gift’.
Whether you’re buying (outward) gifts or return gifts, it boils down to expenditure for you. With the explosion in ‘-Days’ (Friendship Day, Valentine’s Day, Doctors’ Day, Administrative Professionals’ Day,...(insert whatever your idle mind drifts to) Day), the pressure to gift has soared. This translates to a much greater outlay on objects to give others. I suspect that the spirit of the act suffers in the process.
Nobody has (yet) come up to me and enquired about a return gift at the end of a party, but that’s probably because I haven’t had any parties for kids, and my associates know better than to expect a return gift from me. Which brings me to the solution – If the return gift rigmarole pains you, you are in the majority, and what you need to harness to put an end to the needless bother is the collective pain.
I am assuming that no one likes the return gift rigmarole. So, the fact that it prevails indicates that people are too timid to speak their minds and continue to bow to what they deem societal expectation. How unusual!
Please don’t bow anymore. Gather a group of preferred associates, and make a collective plan to eschew return gifts. This promises to be more effective than having a no-return gift policy in isolation, which may put kids under untold pressure. And of course, teach kids not to enquire after gifts! When a community decides to cut the return gift crap, living easier becomes easier for both adults and kids. Go no-return-gifters!