During the festive periods – Chinese New Year, Christmas – giving happens. A lot. We change hundreds of dollars to stuff into red packets, we take part in Secret Santa gift exchanges, give of our time to visit our friends and relatives, some of whom we only see once a year. For newlyweds, after the first-year moratorium, it’s the start of a lifetime of giving of angpow.
Sometimes we’re approached to give – by the tissue paper auntie at the hawker centre, the former inmate with his stack of smiley-faced keychains, or the student doing flag day.
For some, giving is seen as a hassle, a chore, and even a huge personal loss. ???? ????
What’s your attitude to giving?
WHEN IT’S TIME TO GIVE, ARE YOU …
1. THE ESCAPE ARTIST
The escape artist always disappears over Christmas or Chinese New Year, going overseas with the excuse of wanting “to make full use of the long weekend”. You dread getting a wedding or baby shower invite, seeing it not as a celebration, but an invoice for payment. You will do your very best to always have some other appointment on the day as the wedding. You always have a packet of tissue paper prominently on display on the kopitiam table so the tissue paper auntie won’t approach you. Chope!
2. THE CALCULATOR
You are extremely good at math. If the Secret Santa gift exchange cap is $20, you will buy a gift for that amount, and not a single cent more. In a group setting, you are also quick to calculate – to the exact amount – how much each person should pay when the bill arrives. You keep a record of the value of presents/angbao you receive, and make a mental judgment of the person’s worth based on the value of the gift received. (Under $10 = next year not worth visiting.)
3. THE GENEROUS FRIEND
You are a person many love. You are always first to pick up the tab, and aren’t fussed if you don’t end up collecting the whole sum back. You’re the one who will pay for drinks at the coffeeshop first, then tell everyone it’s on you. At the end of a late night out, you’ll go out of the way to send everyone home, even if you live at the other end of the country (hello, NTU Hall 9!).
You may not necessarily be rich, but somehow you’re always giving – if not money, then time, or a listening ear.
Which of the three do you identify most with? And which of the three would you most like to be around?
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. (Proverbs 11:24-25)