You would think that the giving and receiving of a gift would be a very straightforward interaction between 2 parties. And often it is.
At it’s best, the giving of a gift expresses in a tangible form, very positive emotions such as love, affection, fondness, appreciation, attraction, sentimentality, gratitude, well-wishing. It is given without any sense of compulsion or obligation and is received in the same joyous spirit. However, we have all experienced examples of “gift giving” which had far more to do with a sense of obligation, duty, or expectation. The obligatory Christmas or birthday presents to family members we seldom see or work colleagues we don’t actually even like. These situations can cause resentment on both sides - the giver resents parting with the money and the receiver feels slighted by the obvious lack of feeling accompanying the gift.
Retail advertising, all too often, encourages an attitude close to moral imperative in the area of gift giving - you should give your parent a Mother’s Day, Father’s day, birthday, Christmas, Easter, anniversary present. And yet it is true that most parents, given the choice of your presence or your presents will choose the former.
Ideally, gift-giving brings as much pleasure to the giver as to the recipient. We see this at times in the shop. Sometimes two people will come together expressly for one to buy a present for the other and we see the excitement and love on both sides. Sometimes someone will come to buy a present for a friend who has admired their Polish Pottery. Because the person enjoys their own pieces of Polish ware so much, they are then thrilled to surprise their friend with a similar gift. We even have mutual gift buying.
One of the most common remarks people make when coming to the Cup & Mug for the first time is what a wonderful place it is to buy a special gift. Occasionally we’ve had customers tell us that they have been invited to a wedding and have been requested to give a gift of money rather than an object. They express disappointment at this because they wanted to choose something they really wanted to give. We’ve even had customers who decide to give some Polish Pottery regardless of the money request.
These interactions have made me more aware of some wedding gifts that we still have after 30 years. While most gifts have long gone or I have forgotten who the kind giver was, we have a few pieces that bring the giver to mind even though we haven’t had any contact for many, many years.
These two beautiful vases were made by Tasmanian potter, Edward Shaw and were given to us by his son.
This butter dish was made by another Tasmanian potter, Mark Knight, and survived until last year, when the plate on the bottom was broken (we’ve replaced it with one of Tim’s first attempts at a small plate). Bernard and Nick, I’ve no idea where you are or how your lives played out but I think of you when I use these still lovely pieces.
This beautiful table lamp and clock are the handiwork of keen hobbyists, both using the beautiful Tasmanian huon pine – the lamp given by a daughter of the maker and the clock by a friend of its maker.
My grandmother gave us money, and we bought a high quality, (German?) stainless steel cutlery set. I wanted silver but my mother very wisely insisted that was silly as I wouldn’t have time to polish it. It has been our everyday cutlery for a long time now - I still love it and am slightly miffed that some has been lost over the years (how can you lose your cutlery?).
All of us have felt that we have received some awful presents at one time or another – I’d like to think more as the result of the fact that one man’s treasure is another’s trash, rather than as a deliberate lack of thoughtfulness.
However, the gift that is given in love, brings with it some sense of connection to the giver, it is symbolic of the affection and regard you have for each other and is a joy forever, not only because of the function of the object but because of the memories it evokes.
If I had to abandon everything but keep one gift from each of the wonderful men in my life, I would keep these three things: This amazing huge mixing bowl given to me by my husband approximately 20 years ago. It was made in England (as was he) and he bought it in Myer for $92 which I thought was outrageous at the time (he left the price on the bottom). I love to cook, and in retrospect, it was worth every cent and more
When my younger son gave me a book of Michael Leunig (I love to contemplate the meaning of life, the universe, and everything), Tim thought that he (Tim) was relegated to second favourite child status forever - how could he better that brilliant gift idea?
But, I now have 2 handmade tumblers from the Irish Handmade Glass Company. Whenever I use them not only am I enraptured by their exquisite and delicate beauty, but I’m reminded of my gentle, clever, generous son who was inspired to continue his own “handmade” path by his trip to Ireland.