Sunday January 6, 2013
Treasure each gift, or pass it on in kindness
By Soo Ewe Jin
IT seemed timely, yet ironic, that one of the articles featured in this newspaper during the recent holiday season was about how to return unwanted gifts. It may strike a chord with you. I suspect that some of the gifts you received in recent weeks have yet to be opened.
Or, if you had opened them and had ooh-and-ahhed in front of the giver, you are now wondering what you are going to do with the 10th tie of the same colour and design that you received this time around.
Many of us are so fortunate that we are spoilt for choice, and somehow seem to miss the value in a gift.
I have a friend in the United States who sends me a gift card each Christmas and I would immediately redeem it online and thank him for the DVD or book that I got with his voucher.
I think the fact that I redeem it immediately encourages him to carry on the tradition.
But do you know that billions in gift cards go unspent each year? And we are talking of US dollars here.
According to industry estimates, up to 10% of the value of all gift cards go to waste yearly because the recipients just leave them in drawers, and completely forget about them until they expire.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the amount for the period 2005 to 2011 was around US$40bil (RM120bil).
Closer to home, how many unused gift vouchers do you have in your drawer? Do you remember the RM100 book voucher your niece thoughtfully gave you for your last birthday which is about to expire because it is valid for only three months?
Or, how about the meal voucher which your boss left on your desk in appreciation of the extra effort you put in on a project? Better check the date.
Although unwanted gifts have become very much a part of life, I still believe in giving and receiving gifts, especially on special occasions.
This year, for Christmas, I bought a goat and then I gave it away.
I designed my own gift cards and gave them out to close family and friends to let them know that they have a share in making a family somewhere in Cambodia or Myanmar own a new goat.
Give a gift, change a life, as the slogan for this Gifts of Hope programme tells us.
The best gifts are unexpected, “no occasion” ones.
Why not recycle some gifts and surprise the guards in your neighbourhood, the postman, the newspaper vendor or the garbage collector?
I am not talking about things you are about to throw away, but nice new gifts that you really have no use for.
The point about giving is that our motive must be genuine.
To me, personalised gifts are invaluable. It could be a special home-made gift that you will never find in any stall. Or it could be a customised thumbdrive engraved with the words “Thanks, Jin”. Or it may simply be a hand-written note of appreciation. Such gifts are priceless, for they speak of my worth to the giver.
So whether it is Christmas, a wedding, your birthday or your farewell, treasure every gift you get, and for those you do not have use for, pass it on in a proper way that others may be blessed.
> Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin is enriched by the many real-life stories of people giving and receiving gifts without any fanfare or publicity. He would like to thank a friend he has yet to meet for the lunch at a leading hotel which he was able to share with three others, thanks to her voucher.