The Gift of Giving

Tuesday, Mar 21 2017

It is often said that "giving is better than receiving..."

Posted by Ann Clark

I have to agree with this statement.  Of course, it is always nice to receive a gift, but the act of giving requires more thought and brings people together in a different way. 

I have one favorite memory of a gift I received for Mother’s Day many years ago. I had been in a store with my younger son weeks before the holiday, and noted a purple leather bag studded with old coins.  It was a one-of-a kind-bag from Morocco.  A few weeks later, I received this bag for a Mother’s Day gift. My son, who was about 8 or so at the time, took his dad to the store. The bag was not on display and he described it to the shop owner who went into the stock room and found the bag.  I was blown away by the thoughtfulness of my son to remember this and to take his dad to the store in order to find a meaningful gift.  I never said that I wanted the bag, just that I liked it.

I loved this bag so much and wore it to death. It will always hold special meaning to me because my son sought it out for me knowing I loved it.

There are those people who buy gifts that they would like for themselves and those people who buy gifts with careful thought about what the receiver of the gift might actually like and appreciate.  I naturally like the second type of givers.  Sometimes when I am traveling, I see something that would make a good gift for a friend or a family member. I might buy it and keep it for the future event: birthday, Christmas.

There is something very special about the hunt for the perfect gift, the anticipation of the receiver opening the gift, watching to see their reaction when they open it, and hoping they really love it!  When this happens, it brings you closer to that person. It is a way to communicate that you know who that person is, that you know what they like and who they are. It builds on the relationship and reinforces your connection. The gift does not have to be extravagant, but merely thoughtful.

I found these placemats by Emlein Textile Works for Lena at the RISD Holiday Gift Show topped with a sweet teapot by Ambai of Japan which was given to me by my older son. 

Lena and I recently exchanged gifts for the holidays.  I visited the RISD Holiday Craft Show and found a lovely set of silkscreened placemats.  I know Lena likes textiles and when I saw the color scheme of these placemats, they made me think of her.

A beautiful and innovative bracelet by Alexandra Tsoukala from the Benaki Museum in Athens from Lena

Lena returned from Greece after Christmas and brought me a pleated gold fabric cuff bracelet. She sees the jewelry I wear and this was right on target. 

I recently visited my older son in New York on his birthday.  On the way, we stopped at the Yale Art Galleries and there was a Lee Friedlander exhibit called: Let Us March On: Lee Friedlander and the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom.  As we are in tumultuous times and my son, a filmmaker, is very committed to social good as well as a fan of Lee Friedlander, I thought he would enjoy the catalogue. There were photos of Martin Luther King, Mahalia Jackson, and Rosa Parks who happens to share the same birthday as my son: Feb. 4.  The catalogue was meaningful for a few reasons.

It is, of course, easier to buy gifts for people you know and love, but even sometimes, you may be thinking of yourself more than the recipient and what they like.  My suggestion is to try to put yourself in the position of the recipient. You will always succeed if you can!

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