Much of my life I've lived where people generally didn't gift without cause. It had to be a special occasion where gifting was expected (birthdays, holidays, church donations, etc). Duty gifts, that's all they were. Seldom any feelings behind them. Gifts were also given in an attempt to gain favor or special services. Gifts to the boss, teacher, neighborhood police, your garbage man, the carpenter...whoever you wanted special care, attention, or favor from.
Also in that life, people usually kept their material items to themselves, hoarding them if not being used. If not wanted anymore, then they were sometimes sold or usually thrown away in the weekly trash. Oh boy, I still recall those happy days of trash picking in the wealthier neighborhoods. Those people threw away everything, even things still with price tags or in original packaging. Rather than gift it to some person or some organization, it went to the dump. The sense of sharing within a community was unknown.
My little community here is totally opposite. It took me a while to discover and develop it, but my community network is alive and well. And gifting without strings and obligation is part of it. In fact, gifting is often spontaneous, coming completely by surprise.
(Pumpkins , yum! They gave me several, how wonderful.)
Since this sharing and gifting is not something I was raised with, I'm often not sure how to act appropriately. But I am trying. So I share my excess too and hope that the appreciation is mutual.
An online person I've been following this past year has been Paul Wheaton. Based upon his permaculture philosophy, the concept of gifting surplus among community members is something he wholeheartedly supports and wants to establish himself. When I first heard him talking about it, I thought , "Oh sure, that ain't gonna work." But I eat my words, it CAN work. I get proof every week. The photos on the post entry are all gifts I received recently. So at least within a small community, Paul's idea of sharing surplus really can happen.
(Fresh fruits from a good friend.)
My grandmother often said that it was better to give than receive. As a child I never believed that nor understood what she was getting at. But I've finally caught on these past dozen years. It feels good to share. Everytime it's done I feel like another strand has been woven into my community web. Yes, it feels good, it feels right. I hope it continues.