Christmas has come and gone, the New Year is here, the children are back at school, and most of us have settled into some form of a “normal” schedule. It is the time of year in which we hear and read statistics about the exorbitant cost of Christmas, in terms of dollars per capita, months of work required to pay for it, and post-Christmas, stress-induced sicknesses – the good ol’ Post-Christmas Blues.
If you’re one of the folks who have last-minute-shopped, given “duty” gifts, or are feeling stressed-out about how you are going to pay your credit card bill, this article may push your hot-buttons.
My intent is to offer some clarity, from my perspective, on the real meaning of a gift – giving and receiving.
For many retail businesses, the Christmas season is “pay day.” As a broad generalization, that indicates we believe Christmas to be a time of the year where we have a duty to spend our money to buy something for another person. It’s tradition. We “have-to” give a gift to them because we know they will give one to us, or maybe they already have. The same obligatory belief applies to birthdays, anniversaries, and Happy-Hallmark day. This seems to apply whether we can afford it or not and it can create much stress in our lives.
In our ego minds we justify these “traditionalisms” and call them “gifts of love.” However, it seems that the love may be conditional, as in:
“I feel guilty because I’m sure she spent more on me than I did on her.”
“I don’t like it, but I’ll have to wear it because he gave it to me.”
“We have to hang it up somewhere; otherwise she’ll think we don’t like it, or her.”
I know this happens because I’ve been there.
Folks, I think we’re missing the point.
A gift is a sharing of love. Giving is a wonderful, heart-warming experience. And every day can be filled with the joy of gifting, with a conscious awareness of this intrinsic purpose. There is no duty or obligation to give the gift. I do it because I want to share love. The gift can be a warm smile, a helping hand, a kind word, a bag of freshly-baked cookies, or a Mercedes Benz car. They all have the same value. The gift is the thought of love, and the gesture or item is the representation of the thought. Once I have given the gift, my part is done. I have experienced the joy and happiness in giving – I have shared love. There are no strings attached. From that point on, I have absolutely no attachment to the gift anymore. The receiver can scowl at me, cuss at me, throw the cookies away, give the cookies to someone else, wreck, or sell the car.
You may be thinking, “Ohhhh, come on, you’d care if they wrecked the car!”
I repeat my statement; I have experienced the joy and happiness in giving – period.
The flip-side of giving is receiving. When someone has shared their love with me by giving me a gift, my response is a genuine, “Thank you.” If I say things like, “You shouldn’t have done that”, “That’s too much”, or “I don’t need or want anything”, the underlying message I am giving the other person is that I don’t want their love. That definitely is not my intent, however that may be the message the other person hears and understands.
When I receive graciously, I am allowing the other person the wonderful experience of sharing his or her love. In effect, I am giving a gift back by doing this.
If you follow this process, the giving and receiving continues to happen. I give a flower, she gives a “Thank you,” I give a smile, she gives a hug, I give kind words, she gives some back, and on and on it goes. The most important part is the thoughts of sharing love. It’s so easy.
How could we be bitter, resentful, or angry with anyone if this was habitual everyday with everyone we met?
Since the start of the year is about charting a course for the future, here’s a challenge for you to add to your list, if you choose to accept it. Give love and receive love everyday. It’s so easy, now!
Ensure that you make it unconditional love. If you have any attachments, expectations, guilt, or worry, you negate the purpose of the gift, the sharing of love.
This may not be easy for you at first because it takes conscious effort. However, like most worthwhile skills in life, it gets much easier with practice and eventually becomes habit.
This is a really fun challenge, because if you consciously give love, you’ll find that you have more love to give. It grows exponentially inside of you. The other cool thing is that the more you give, the more you receive – really they are both the same.
How much fun, joy, and happiness could you miss if you don’t start on this RIGHT NOW? Make a wise choice so you never participate in the Post-Christmas Blues again.