01 December 2003

Gestures of grace

What you have is not yours; what you give is yours.

—From the cartoon, Committed
Thought doesn't count for me. Good intention is a quarter of a good thing. The well-thought-out and well-prepared gift is what truly matters.

Gift-preparation is one of my favorite activities. I consider it a project. I even love it during my college days when my budget is at its littlest. I get to be creative. More than that, I get to test my ingenuity and intuition about the person whom I intend to give something.

What urges me to give is the idea of letting someone know that they are remembered and loved. Not only that, since gifts are symbols, it is also important for me that the they not only feel remembered and loved, but seen. It's like silently saying, From what I understand of you, you might need and like this.

It's nice to open this month with the gift of attention. Attend not only to your friends or yourself, but to your environment as well. Do the curtains need washing? The study desk, polishing? Mind to plant another tree in your front yard? These are all in return, gifts to yourself.

How about the gift of reconciliation? That's another smashing idea, but it is so much easier said than done. Perhaps one of the grandest things money can't buy.

I love making people feel that I have seen them the way they wanted to be seen. I also love finding in their faces the expression of surprise and delight. And of course, affirmation. The last thing I would want to make them feel is guilt—that they should reciprocate the act. I'm not a fan of utang na loob. Often, after giving something with the extravagance of pure sincerity, the receiver would say to me, Oh, you shouldn't have done that, or You shouldn't have bothered. I think they forget that gestures of gratitude, admiration and tenderness are non-obligatory.

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