Is it better to give or receive?  

Over the ages, gift-giving has been a sign of friendship, love, admiration, or deep regard for the recipient.

Three kings of middle eastern descent walked a long way with their gathered emulsions of gold, frankincense, and myrrh —tirelessly harvested distillations of precious metals, tree resins, plants, and herbs, to mark the tidings of the great joy they felt about a baby’s birth.

The sight and smell of burning incense leave a lasting impression in rituals. Scent distilled into oils anoint a right-of-passage, a spiritual awakening, a nod to the reverence of special moments.

When sent ahead, gifts of scent can express the excitement we feel for the specialness of an upcoming occasion or invitation.  

When Cleopatra wooed Mark Antony, she was sure to include fragrance in the mix, by having it fanned in the open air around her entourage arriving by boat. Today we call this aromatherapy. Mark brought the finest fragrance oils, to signal his intentions about the visit. Today we understand the beauty, health, and wellness effects of essential oils, as well as their important medicinal and therapeutic values.

Scents wafting about your home make you the giver of the gift. Good smells are therapeutic. Put smiles on faces. Release endorphins. Relax and soothe us. Some smells have anti-bacterial, and antimicrobial properties, besides setting a mood for the precious time we have with family and friends.   

A gift of scent, in any form, is something special. It can harken to a time when all was well. Or say let’s make a new memory of our own. The smell of a harvest, an apple press at work, a pumpkin pie baking, spiced cider on the stove, a walk through a Christmas tree farm. Smell memories call to us, hitting the nodes of our emotions, our physics, and spirits.

Better to give or receive? I say it’s a tie. After all, the principle really is, that it’s in the giving that we receive. And that’s love, baby.

Happy everything, and please be safe.

Jean VanGray for