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.    


Nov. 18, 2022

“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians: 16-18)

‘Tis the season for Thanksgiving.  A holiday most everyone in America seems to celebrate, no matter their religious beliefs.  The time to think about what we are grateful for.  It sounds so cliché.  A gratitude journal?  Been there, done that. 

Probably a better way to cultivate gratitude is to make it a habit so that it becomes second nature.  This is, of course, easier said than done.  Perhaps we should have a gratitude buddy, like an exercise buddy, to keep us accountable all year long.

A good place to start, is by being thankful in the everyday mundane stuff of life.  Many years ago, when I was on bed rest, pregnant with triplets, I wasn’t allowed to do much of anything. I was thankfully(!) allowed to take a daily shower.  But that was it.   It got to the point where I was longing to do even the simplest task, like washing dishes.  That would have been sheer bliss! 

It was then that I vowed to always remember what a blessing it is to be able to do something as simple as washing dishes.  This challenge was put to the test soon after, when I found myself endlessly washing baby bottles because we had no dishwasher. I think a person could go to heaven just for that!  I am happy to report that I still frequently remember to be thankful when I wash those dirty dishes.  A trick that can also help is putting a picture of Jesus by the kitchen sink.    

St. Therese of Lisieux

I really enjoy the following video by Fr. Mark Goring, which is about praying while grocery shopping.  Maybe it will inspire you and be something to keep in mind while shopping for our Thanksgiving feasts.  It is a reminder that every occasion in life is an opportunity to practice gratitude and that our prayers can have far-reaching effects.

May we, then, humbly make this our prayer:

“O Jesus, eternal God, thank You for Your countless graces and blessings.  Let every beat of my heart be a new hymn of thanksgiving to You, O God.”

From the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul, entry 1794

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