As a child, my mom always taught me to say “thank you” to every gift I received — even if I already had the item or just really didn’t like the item; I think that was one of the best lessons I learned as a child.
No matter what, a gift is a sign that someone cares about me. Some gifts make me feel more cared about than others, but, regardless, someone took the time, energy and money to pick out and wrap a gift for me.
I can remember several times where friends came to my birthday parties or my dad mailed me gifts, and I had already received the same gifts from my mom — “The Lizzie McGuire Movie,” Jesse McCartney CDs, a boombox. Instead of telling them that I had already received the same gifts — making them feel bad — my mom returned the ones she bought me, and I kept my friends’ and father’s gifts.
I can also remember getting gifts that were something I would never use or wear — makeup kits, items that were all pink, candles, body sprays. But, again, I acted happy to have received them.
As someone who’s not a huge fan of fakey courtesies — I think saying “bless you” after a sneeze is antiquated and unnecessary — I do believe in courtesies when it comes to receiving gifts, and I don’t think that they’re fakey or unnecessary; these courtesies teach gratitude, which is something I could always use more of.
As I mentioned before, a gift shows that, on some level, a person cares about me. Plus, as I’ve been on the giving end before, I know how terrible I would feel if I found out that someone didn’t like or already had what I gave them.
No one is required to get me gifts, so I take it as a very thoughtful gesture when someone does. Gifts are given to make me feel good, and I want my gratitude for the gift to make the giver feel equally as good. Rather than thinking that perhaps a person doesn’t know me well enough or didn’t spend as much on me as they should’ve, I can be grateful for the time and thought that went into the gift. Life is so much better when I look at gifts in this way — with a positive, gracious attitude.
It’s easy in an age of consumerism to get caught up in the pleasure and excitement of receiving expensive, lavish gifts that are exactly what you wanted. However, holidays and birthdays are times for celebration with friends and family, making gifts a secondary matter. So big or small, store-bought or homemade, all gifts are equal in the sense that someone cared enough to celebrate you and make you happy; someone took the time to remember you and let you know that you’re thought of often. Remember that the next time a holiday comes around.
Perhaps you didn’t learn this valuable lesson of gratitude as a child, but it’s not too late to start learning it now. The next time you receive a gift — no matter what it is — act excited and thank the person. The next time you give a gift that’s not well received, let the person know that, ultimately, you just wanted to communicate that he or she is cared about. Give and spread gratitude; you’re bound to be a happier, more content person if you do.
When was the last time you received a gift you didn’t like or already had? What was your reaction? Has is happened to you on the giving end?