JB Crow Indian with Peace PipeIt is that time of year again. Winter Solstice, Christmas or both, our thoughts turn to buying gifts for our loved ones. I have a love/hate relationship with gift buying. I enjoy buying for the people I want to buy for, but I resent having to buy gifts for others due to some obligatory reason. This has made me wonder where the origin of “gift giving” comes from.

I once read, that Native American tribes treat gifts as something not to hold onto for oneself, but to be passed on to another when the time is right. There is a story of a white man visiting a tribe who is given a ceremonial pipe as a gift by the Chief. The white man was very grateful and mounted the piped above his fireplace as a prized artefact that any museum would wish to own. A few months later, a Chief from another tribe came to visit the white man in his home. As the men were about to part, the white man was overcome with surprise as the Chief asked that he be given the ceremonial pipe. The Chief, on the other hand, was surprised by the white man’s reluctance to pass the pipe on.

I also have another story, this time about a friend of mine. She once owned a beautiful brooch shaped like a butterfly. The brooch used to belong to her grandmother. One day, she decided to give the brooch to a friend of hers, who loved butterflies. A little while later, the friend informed her, she had given the brooch to someone she had met who loved butterflies even more than she did. At first, my friend was upset that her brooch had been passed onto a stranger, but she soon came to realise the beauty of what had happened.

This brings up the question of “Ownership” and the energy in which we give and receive gifts. What would it be like to believe that a gift is not something to hold onto, but to pass on. That it does not have one owner but many. Hmmm….I sense this might be rather freeing. A flow of energy rather than a stagnant one. Like, the baby clothes and toys that get passed around families in my own community. It is lovely to witness another person enjoying or putting to use something that would otherwise be locked away in the attic.

Of course, I really can not see my children passing on their christmas presents to another child in a few months time, but when they grow out of them, they just might.


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