Gift giving is part of the holiday season, and finding “the perfect present” is a common pursuit. It feels good when the items we’ve selected are appreciated and enjoyed. However, this year, regardless of what you’ve bought, ordered or made, there is one more present I hope you will give to everyone on your list: permission to do whatever they like with the gifts you are giving.
Let me explain.
The commonly held definition of a gift is something that one party gives to another. In other words, when we give a gift, we are relinquishing ownership and control, and transferring that ownership to someone else. Even though we may have put a lot of thought into selecting the item, spent a lot of money, or even passed on something we deem precious, we need to remember that we are giving a gift, not a loan.
One of the kindest and most generous gifts you can give is the message that while you hope that the gift is a hit, you completely understand if it isn’t. Furthermore, the recipient should feel free to keep it, use it, display it, or sell it, return it, re-gift it, or pass it on as he or she sees fit.
In spite of our best efforts, there will likely be times when our chosen gifts simply miss the mark, such as when we get…
- the wrong size
- something the recipient already owns
- the wrong style, color or flavor
- an item not to the receiver’s taste
True generosity resists the urge to layer the gift with expectations for its future use. We shouldn’t expect a decorative object to be on display every time we come for a visit, or to find children playing with the toy we gave. We shouldn’t suggest the teenager wear the shirt we picked out, or inquire as to the location of the antique we passed down.
A gift is simply that –a gift. If we have specific expectations regarding an item’s use, we shouldn’t give it to someone else. Rationalizations such as “I’m giving this to them so it will stay in the family,” or, “She would look more professional if she would wear this” are more mandates than offerings, and may result in guilt and friction rather than joy.
The season of giving is an opportunity to bless those you care most about. I hope you will enhance your gift giving this year by letting your friends and family know that your presents come with “no strings attached.”
Have you ever received an item you didn’t really like but felt too guilty to let it go?