Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t enjoy receiving a gift? It’s a universal joy. Gifts are a delightful part of life. As a gift giver, we try to find that special something that will fit the bill, based on our knowledge of the person and our intuition about what they might like. Some people are “hard to buy for” because they already have everything they want or because they’re very hard to please. But whether or not we find that perfect gift, the process of thinking and searching can help connect us with the life of that person. And whether our gift is new or used, factory made or home made, the goal is the same. Giving the gift is our symbolic way of saying “I love you and want you to be happy”.
We’ve always tried to stretch out the gift-exchange in our family, so that we can savor the process of giving and receiving gifts. After examining the intriguing gifts under the tree on Christmas morning, we would take turns giving the spotlight to one of us at a time (youngest to oldest). Each person would unwrap one of their mysteries while the rest of us gave them our attention.
After the gift had been properly explored and admired, and all the relevant whys and wherefores had been provided, we’d move on to the next person. The process of opening gifts this way takes longer, but why rush? The act of giving gifts is a lovely process and it’s fun to fuss a bit and provide a proper welcome for each gift as we make its acquaintance.
But is gratitude guaranteed during this process? Does a mountain of holiday gifts automatically translate into a mountain of appreciation? We all know that life is not necessarily this simple. Feelings arise on their own and sometimes kids (and adults) may feel disappointed instead of grateful when they open a present. That can certainly happen. But as the receiver of a gift, our job is to be gracious and appreciative for the gift itself and the efforts of the gift-giver. That’s our end of the equation.
In those moments, we have a chance to open our minds and hearts, rather than being rigid. I once received a mug that I didn’t like at all. In a million years I would never have chosen that mug to bring home. But I grew fond of it and used it for years because I associated it with the gift-giver and it made me smile. I grew to love it. That’s not to say that gifts can’t be returned, but adding a touch of graciousness and appreciation to the process will help everyone involved.
May you give with love. Not only will you make the world a more beautiful place, but you will lift your own spirits as well.
And may you receive with graciousness. Practice the art of appreciating what you are offered, rather than imposing your will on the world.
Tags: gratitude Mental Wellness Mindfulness