receiving graciously

photo courtesy In a way we all want to be loved and accepted and patted on the back for it. But being a supposed goody two-shoes and feeling guilty about accepting a present is misconstrued.

A while ago we gave a friend's daughter a money gift upon her graduation and received a thank-you card back with an added note saying "you didn't have to do that." I know that phrase. I have heard it often among family members and it circulates widely. A few years ago I was playing money tag with my housekeeper. I paid her, she gave me some money back because she thought she had worked less than what I paid her for, but then I stuck the money back into her purse wanting to be generous. She finally put an end to our money tag and said something like "You need to let people give to you." The Japanese have the complicated social custom of giri, a kind of reciprocal indebtedness incurred when giving a larger present.

Think about the feelings that come up for you when you get a present versus when you give a present, especially one that you have selected particularly carefully or that took a long time to create. Oftentimes, I get more of a charge out of giving and seeing the surprise and pleasure on the receiver's face than receiving. But that twisted fact makes us so mutually intertwined that we need to become as gracious a receiver as being a gracious giver. Let others give to you and relish receiving.