I have much more in “I owe” than in “I’ve given.”
Over the years of a desperately poor youth on the road, I frequently survived on small gifts and “investments for the future.”One frequent giver admonished me not to think about paying it back to him but to pay it forward to others.
One of the ways I pay forward is with gifts of carvings, spoons, spatulas, cutting boards, and bowls. I’ve also given away some quarterboard carvings, canes, and other items in stock. Being that these items are functional and practical, they have reasonably immediate effects on the recipients. They also last, so the gift keeps giving through long-term use. While I always give to family and friends, I also gift random people I meet at craft and boat shows. I sometimes get asked why I would give some of these things away. My reply is that I do it because I can. Craftspeople should be generous with their gifts, Most of us have not been gifted with wealth, but we have been given the talent to produce useful and lovely items. We should share with others.
At its most optimal expression, a gift is an expression of goodwill from one person to another. When I see a person at a show who appreciates something I’ve created, I am sometimes moved to gift them with it. The look of pleasure on their face is my reward, and I know that the present will not be another gimcrack they’ll sweep away during a kitchen reorganization.