Have you given a gift and it made you feel good? That feeling is pretty awesome isn't it? The joy you feel is tied to many reasons. Generosity is an act of kindness. Kindness and generosity are virtues we should all try to hold. Regardless of the reason for the giving of gifts, it should be part of your life.
I have seen some cool examples of giving. The 1972 Canada Russia series where Peter Mahovlich gave his sweater to Czechoslovakian player. the Czech player in turn gave his sweater to Mahovlich Now that was so damn cool and generous. At the time Western world was not in good relationship with the Eastern Bloc and they were considered enemies; figuratively and literally. So the act of sharing by Mahovlich was a huge gesture. I think others have done the same thing since then.
Giving gifts I believe is part of everyone's culture.
In Indian country everyone is aware of the Potlatch Ceremony. The British Columbia Indigenous community is world known for their acts of Giving. Similar ceremonies take place in the Indigenous community which are still practiced today. Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki) provides a very informative overview of the Give Away Ceremony in his article Sacred Giving, Sacred Receiving.
The Powwow is likely a place where you will see a Give Away: a new child entering the Circle or a Remembrance of a loved one who has passed on or a family member's celebration of healing. The Lakota Powwows are known for their "Specials" and Give Aways. Lot of beautiful Blankets given out. The Giver of gifts is acknowledging the Creator in front of witnesses.
There was a Tradition of gift giving that I am not sure is practiced very much anymore. It is like the old saying that she/he "will give you the shirt off of their back". This has really taken place. The person who will give you something because you are fond of what they have. I remember years ago that used to happen. Someone in earnest would say "I like your jacket". The person who had the jacket would take it off and give it to them. Lot of people used to tease about things like that. They would say I like your car. They would of course not expect the person to give them, they were just teasing and acknowledge the old practice. They were just being Indian and teasing. You will notice a lot of "celebrity Indians", or well known Indians are wearing all sorts of nice beaded adornments. When they travel to different areas, cities or even countries. They seem to come back with all their adornments; beaded medallions and things like that. I think about them and think if you are coming back with all your stuff, you're doing it wrong. And because I am somewhat of a jerk I will go and test people with "I like your stuff". In one instance I even said to this one guy, "give me that". He was wearing a beautiful Maori Bone Medallion. He was a Maori fellow and he was shocked. He stammered and said something like it was his Iwi or something like that. My friend a Traditional Maori just laughed and said to me "you got his number".
I think we are becoming more and more like main stream culture with acquisition as our default position: getting more stuff. That is too bad. I see many of our people embracing the Spirit of our Ancestral Teachings and wanting to live with those virtues. Still there are many who like the "idea" of being Traditional with not really understanding the significance of the Teachings. We can mouth some of the good things behind the Teachings but have difficulty letting go of our main stream norms and behaviours.
I like that many are bringing back many of the old ways and teaching them to others. I wonder how many practice the Give Away?
I like the Give Away. In general I just like generous people. I am not a fan of the cheap arse. It bothers me how people can be so selfish. Its not the price of stuff or the item, its the sentiment behind it. With Give Aways I have seen lot of the Dollar Store items and I have seen the handmade item as well. The act is about how you feel. Sure its nice to be on the receiving end of the Give Away but it sure feels awesome to be the one giving as well. That is the other thing of Give Away; if you are on the receiving end, try and be gracious. I have seen many who will come back and ask for some more stuff or even try to trade the gift for another. Take the gift in the manner it is given.
So consider the next time you have a celebration, an anniversary of some type about hosting a Ceremony of the Give Away. It will bring good feelings to you and your family. And we can always use good feelings towards us.