the art of giving

By robynjay On December 26th, 2011

In a culture overrun with commercialism and gift one-upmanship, its tempting to react by simply not engaging. But was does this mean for kids?

I grew up in a home where creative pursuits were both encouraged and valued. As the last child at home and living out of town I was never bored. When I wasn’t roaming rocks and gullies or inhabiting the secret nooks of our shed, I was creating. Paper craft, painting, sewing, clay, puppets, drawing, sculpture projects were resourced and guided. The best times were when I worked alongside my mother.

My products, however humble, were admired and valued. There was never a suggestion that gift cards would be purchased. ‘Works of art’ were the most valued gifts, given pride of place.

The act of gift giving is a precious thing; an opportunity to thank and an opportunity to share something of ourselves. For children its about reflection and humility; taking time to consider another and give time to create something that is lovingly wrapped and delivered. Its about connection and relationship.

As adults we can encourage this by valuing hand crafted produce above factory produced, by appreciating the efforts of kids as they develop the self-confidence to create that many adults lack, and by providing the time, resources and guidance for kids to stop consuming and take time to put themselves in the shoes of others.

however simple ….

By robynjay On January 17th, 2010

Yesterday, in the back room of the church at the Balmain Market I found a veritable treasure chest of Thai silk clothing and textiles. A few items were hung but most were tied in twine in carefully arranged piles on a trestle table.

The stall was run by a Thai woman and a younger helper who I am guessing was her daughter. The older woman appeared to be instructing the other as I perused their gorgeous wares. I was quietly and respectfully showed to a small makeshift changing room when I made my difficult selection.

My purchase was laid out on the table and the item meticulously folded. ‘It is all handmade’, the stall-owner said, and she stroked the fabric as she quietly explained to the other how to fold it. The shirt was then placed on a sheet of simple, hand made rice paper and the older woman stepped her apprentice through a fold that culminated in a tucked in corner that necessitated no adhesive.

In two hands the parcel was handed to me and I was graciously thanked for my purchase. We exchanged a smile and feeling as though I was carrying treasure I left the building contemplating what I had just witnessed. Seconds later the young woman ran up and gave me a small shoulder bag – ‘this is for you, for free’, she said.

The parcel sat for a day unwrapped.