The Gift Exchange

Yep, me again prattling away about life.

Since its Christmas and we have been talking about gifts I thought I would share a couple of insights about gifts that may cause you to think about them a bit differently.

Now don’t get mad at me, but I have to take the joyous experience of gift giving and break it down making it more impersonal and academic in nature.

Gift giving requires several components before the perfect gift exchange is attained.

Side Note: What may help is for you to think about a gift you received that meant a lot to you.  Compare your experience to the components below to see if I am tracking with your experience.

Component One: The Giver

This sounds pretty simplistic but there always needs to be a giver.  But the ideal exchange demands more than just a person willing to part with something.  The X factor to the perfect gift is motivation… the why.

Let’s be real, many gifts are given out of obligation (I have to do it) or manipulation (If I do it there is something to gain).  I am sure most of us have been given something and wondered about the motive.

I am not trying to get all mushy here but the reality is the ideal gift comes from the heart not just the head.  There is a message that conveys worth or value.  There is no ulterior motive other than pleasing the person for whom the gift was for.

The giver must give with no ulterior motive or strings attached and then… release… let go.

Component Two: The Gift

This is the item of exchange.  Frankly, there are all kinds of gifts.  Usually we think in terms of a wrapped package that is grasped.  But there are gifts that are tangible in nature and some intangible.

My parents did not have much but they gave us kids’ some pretty cool gifts.  The tangible gifts were great but I remember very few.  The real gifts (in hindsight) were intangible in nature.  Even though we didn’t have much we knew we were loved… the beautiful gift of being loved.  This may sound weird but I can say now that being disciplined was a gift.

Component Three: The Cost

Every meaningful gift has a cost.  Now before you start arguing, think about it.  Cost is not just financial… that is just the money exchanged.

The cost may be something much more precious than just money.  The price of something may be in the form of sacrifice, time, effort, thoughtfulness, etc.

If you reflect I am sure you will agree that some of the most precious gifts you receive had very little to do with the money something cost.

Component Four: The Receiver

This is a biggie.  No gift exchange is complete until one receives.

This may sound like I am splitting verbal hairs but there is a difference between accepting a gift and receiving a gift.

Accepting a gift is the physical reception of the gift (or in the case of something intangible, an acknowledgement).  But receiving is on a much deeper level.  It involves the fullest appreciation of the gift and understanding of the value.

Now I am not trying to overly complicate this gift giving thing.  When a person buys you a gift for Christmas you will accept it physically and you will show your reception of it by expressing you appreciation and gratitude.  This is fairly straightforward.

But I am taking the time to differentiate accepting and receiving of those gifts that may have a greater emotional meaning to the giver.

Allow me to share an example.  My grandparents (my mother’s side) were amazing people.  They didn’t have much to give.  I remember as they were getting late in their years my grandfather pulled me aside and gave me a few mementoes of he and my grandmother.

There was a scarf he gave my grandmother when they were dating, he gave me his company pin marking years of service and other personal odd and ends.  They were worthless on one level and priceless on another.

I was honored.  He knew I would do more than accept them.  I appreciated the items… I receive them.  I in other words, I took the items with the same heart they were given.

You see, the way you receive the gift is in essence a gift in return.

There is no question there will be many gifts exchanged this Christmas that will be very transactional in nature.  This is normal.  But the most blessed gifts that are given and received on a heart level.

See you Monday

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