When someone gives you something precious it means that, beyond the usefulness of the gift, you are precious. The gift marks a moment when you are welcomed into the other person’s heart.
—John Tarrant, shared by Nita in Columbus, OH
Many of us have been taught that it is more blessed to give than to receive; but as Bernard Gunther pointed out, it is more blessed to give AND receive. Christmas Humphreys said that we are punished BY what we do, not BECAUSE of it. The reverse is also true; we are rewarded BY what we give, not BECAUSE of it. Today, look to see how that has been true in your life.
-Son Pham, shared by Pete in Ohio, via Journey In Life blog
We’re in the midst of a season of gifts, so yay for giving and yippee for receiving! Different traditions do them differently, of course, and families and friends often adjust and revise their gift giving to suit their needs and wishes.
I’ve noticed that I can slip into unhelpful mindsets around giving and receiving gifts. When it comes to giving, I can get caught up in scorekeeping, trying to give in the “right amount” to match what the other person has gifted me. I can also claim to be giving freely and without expectation, and then a little while later finding myself feeling a little miffed that I hadn’t received a thank you card. This can seem perfectly reasonable because what if the gift didn’t even make it there? When looking a little deeper, it is sometimes a sign that I DO have some expectation of getting something back: acknowledgement at the minimum, and maybe even a little praise? These may not be unreasonable, and yet they can be problematic especially when they are unrealized and unspoken.
And oh wowsa can I be a lousy gift receiver. Especially when an unexpected kindness catches me off guard, I can break out in a severe case of unworthiness, sometimes accompanied by an aggressive need to immediately gift something in return. The other day I found myself laughing out loud as I reached for a card to write out a thank you note that I felt an urge to send to someone who had sent me a lovely card….which itself was a thank you for a small treat I had sent them…which I had dropped in the mail because they had replied to a recent issue of Ripples to express their deep gratitude. I’m pretty sure feeling compelled to give a thank you for a thank you for a thank you for a thank you may indicate an imbalance in my giving-receiving?
May the gifts you give to others this season light up their faces and their hearts, and may the gifts you receive do the same for you. In each moment that you are a giver, a receiver, or both, may the experience allow you to focus more on the opportunities presented than the obligations created.