In chapter four of The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, Lewis Hyde discusses this “feeling-bond” prominent in gift giving, and how it differs from the feeling of freedom we experience in commodity exchange.
Having just spent a few days visiting with family, this comparison tickled my analyst side.
Gifts were a rarity in my family of origin.
Raised a Jehovah’s Witness, there were no exciting Christmas mornings, no birthday celebrations, no surprise gifts just to say “I love you”…In addition, poverty and my father’s alcoholism often led to gifts promised that rarely materialized.
As I read this chapter, I found myself holding my family under Hyde’s microscope.
Could the lack of this gift-giving “feeling bond” Hyde speaks of be one of the reasons it was so easy for my individual family members to go our separate ways when our family fell apart? Could this be why—even now—we go months without speaking, giving only a passing thought to those who share our same blood?
Our relationships are a tangle of detachment and crazy love.
Maybe I need to send my mom a present.
This lack of giving, and receiving, has shaped me—it’s true.
Hyde says, “…gifts do not bring us attachment unless they move us…”
This was my sin: the belief that I did not need anyone. I shunned their gifts. What meaning did they have when their actions spoke so much more clearly? Love means more thang giving a gift. I did not need them. It was all up to me.
I refused to let myself be moved.
And in rejecting relationship with my family, I rejected the One who gave me the greatest gift of all.
I am rethinking just what it means to give a gift.
These subtle gifts—a touch, a whisper of love in the night—don’t these gifts bond us to one another?
“These,” says Hyde, “are attachments to be desired.”
I must pause in this self-psychoanalysis for a time.
I am going shopping.
Searching for just the right peace-offering.
It’s never too late to try.
Visit High Calling Blogs for more thoughts on this chapter from Sam.