The giving of gifts is a custom almost as old as man himself. Have you been the recipient of a material gift, an expensive or an inexpensive one-a bouquet of flowers, a basket of fruit, a simple houseplant perhaps? From earliest times it has played an important role in the lives of people. Today, it is obvious that gift giving continues to be a basic human way of establishing and strengthening the bond of love and friendship, to let others know that we care. There are gifts from one marriage mate to another, a simple box of candy or a bouquet of flowers. There are gifts from children to parents. And what loving parents are not always giving to their children? There are gifts to soothe a broken heart, to cheer a depressed soul, to express appreciation for kindnesses shown and hospitality extended. A basket of fruit for the sick, houseplants for the shut-ins, a piece of jewelry for a dear friend-little things that mean a lot. It is giving with the joy that comes from the heart. These are the gifts that are often the most cherished. Consider, for example, the differing customs relative to gift-giving. Europeans and Americans are inclined to try to select gifts to suit the person, the need or sentiment. They generally remove the price tag, since it is usually the custom not to have gifts reckoned according to cash value.
What a simple word thanks is. With one tiny expulsion of breath one can say it. Yet how often the expressing of it is ignored. Is it a sign of weakness to say thank you for an act of kindness, or a material gift? Many of today’s youths find it difficult to express heartfelt thanks for a gift received or an act of kindness shown. If parents do not say please and thank you, their children are not likely to do so. The designing and selling of thank-you cards is big business. Many of the cards express the sentiments beautifully. It is convenient to purchase these and send them to those who have given gifts or extended acts of kindness. Even the customary ways that people receive gifts vary. A polite American or European will generally open a gift with obvious delight, thank the giver profusely, and then probably be conscious of a need to reciprocate in some way to show that the friendship is mutual.