I find it interesting the way people receive gifts differently. Maybe this stems from my grandmother sobbing whenever she received a present. She would insist, “I don’t need anything for my last three days.” As a child, this always confused and frightened me. I felt dejected because she did not receive my gifts happily. Perhaps she felt unworthy. As the years went by, we all just stopped giving her gifts. How sad.
I used to make a lot of handmade gifts for family and friends. It was very disappointing that after spending many hours on these items, they often were not fully appreciated. I could have used that time in other ways.
Some people actually return gifts back to the giver or criticize the gift! Others always have to be “even”. Still others have a sense of entitlement or are completely ungrateful and would never even think to send a thank you note. While yet others are meticulous about always sending a thank you in the mail, which is becoming increasingly rare with modern technology. Some receive gifts graciously and without emotion so you can never tell if they like the gift or not. Not much fun to give these types a gift.
The most ideal gift receiving style is reflected in those that love to receive gifts and can’t hold back their excitement, no matter what kind of gift, whether material, or gifts of time or talent. Just observe a child at their birthday party or at Christmas! They love being the center of attention and opening all those gifts! No feelings of unworthiness there. It reminds me of when the sinful woman poured expensive perfume on Jesus. (Luke 7:36-47) He graciously received her gift and forgave her sins, admonishing the Pharisees. Also, when Jesus was born He received gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh from the Magi. (Matt 2:11) Later, at the Last Supper, Jesus broke bread and gave thanks. (Mark 14:22-24)
In order to instill a sense of gratitude in our children, we teach them to say “thank you” when they receive a gift and then to send a handwritten note. I vividly remember the time my Catholic school nun read the Bible story of the ten lepers to us. (Luke 17:11-19) It really struck me that ONLY ONE, returned to say thank you to Jesus for being healed. How tragic. What a tremendous gift they were given, yet only ONE was truly grateful!
I think most of us would rather give gifts to the people that are open to receiving them and get excited and show some form of gratitude. If we are open to receiving gifts, it seems more gifts will come our way. People who feel unworthy or ungrateful miss a lot of gifts and opportunities like my grandmother did.
But none of this compares with the ultimate gift of Jesus dying on the cross for us. He gave the gift of Himself, so that we could have eternal life even though none of us are worthy of this immense gift. How many of us would give up our very lives for another? How do we thank Him for this most precious gift?
So let us be more aware of the gifts we receive each day. From waking up in the morning, to the food we eat and the people we love, living life with an openness to the gifts around us, never forgetting to give thanks.