The One With The Gift-Giving

by Amalia

One day, I gave a gift to my friend when I was in Indonesia. It was wrapped and that was quite rare because I just couldn’t bother to wrap any gifts that I wanted to give. Anyway, so I gave it to her, she said thank you, and she immediately put the gift in her bag!

At that point, I was offended. Was she a person who didn’t like to receive gifts? Was she too busy to open it? Or didn’t she appreciate it at all? Or what?!

Then I was told that in Indonesia, gifts were not supposed to be opened in front of the giver! It’s not actually polite! I seriously didn’t know that! I really hope I didn’t offend anyone 😐

But then I’m thinking, why can’t we open it in front of the person who gives the gift?! Hmm, let’s see…

From the point of view of the giver, the reason can be that we’re not confident about the present that we give for others. We don’t know if he/she will like it and we choose to be ignorant about it (not wanting to know whether or not he/she likes it).

From the point of view of the receiver, perhaps we don’t know how to react if we don’t like the gift that is given. Indonesians are polite people, we try not to hurt other people’s feelings. Of course, most people would rather pretend that they like the gift. But still, not many people are good with it.

I admit that I’m quite terrible at gift-giving. I call myself an ignorant; I barely notice many details surrounding me, including the things that others are interested in. And I’m extremely forgetful person. Somehow my brain doesn’t allow any details to be kept. It’s a waste of memory, my brain once complained.

So most of the time the gifts that I presented to my friends were not that special. I did feel embarrassed — not to the fact that I gave a lousy gift, but because I didn’t pay attention to these important details about my friends. If these people were part of my life, how could I be unaware about the things that concerned them the most?

But whatever the outcome would be, I’d appreciate if the person opens the gift in front of me. Somehow it feels better that way. And I don’t mind if they tell me that they don’t like the gift. Choosing something for someone else is not an easy job. Everyone has their own preference; when I buy gifts, although I’d picture the person first before choosing the things… in the end, it’s based on my own liking. So I don’t actually blame them not to like my gift. Perhaps, the way they tell me matters the most. At least, I’d expect a little appreciation 🙂

Anyway… now that I know the difference between the two culture, I try to be more understanding. The next time I give/receive a present, I need to remind myself: the Indonesian way or Western way? 🙂 Either way is eventually fine.