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I think that as I grew up I realized that, more often than not, I received great gifts at Christmas but was not able to give “good” gifts at Christmas time (and birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) primarily due to lack of funding.  This realization caused a little part of me to die.  Especially since I married into a family where gifts are really important to them and they seem to feel I don’t love them very much when they don’t receive as much from me as they give.  <disgusted noise>

For years I would spend October and November blissfully make things at home and have them all ready to give at Christmas with joy in my heart and I loved the giving!  I made terrible tasting brownies in a cute canning jar, poorly made necklaces (my first attempts at beading) with a beautiful stone centerpiece, “kisses” from my daughters  blown into an empty jar that I covered with a mosaic of decorative glass and black mortar, sponges from the dollar store hand-cut into animal shapes that required significant imagination to identify, I wrote and recorded songs and gave out the CD’s and I think I even wrote terrible poetry one year for Christmas.  (Good thing you’re not related to me, huh?)

I guess it was last year when I finally realized that nobody really wants these things I make and what I had been viewing as their look of wide-eyed wonderment as they accepted my gifts was actually a startled look and their emotional “Wow, that’s really something!” was not necessarily a compliment.  Hmmm…  However, the knowledge that my gifts from the heart are not appreciated like a professional, mall-bought gift would have been did not stop me as once again, this year for my parents and in-laws, I have forced my family to put their handprints on a canvas and then I turned them into a “family tree” painting – 11 x 17 or some larger size… my siblings are sooo very lucky that the paintings are very time-consuming and I couldn’t make them one too 😉

So it is in my heart to give.  Give, give, give.  I try to give all year long and I find that when I cannot purchase a gift I am driven by something inside me to make a gift so I have something to give…something, anything!  When I don’t have the time, money or energy to buy/make a gift it changes me inside and life becomes a little less enjoyable.  Is that weird?  I cannot live a full and happy life without giving.

It is something to reflect on – is feeling like I am not able to give causing my depression and changing my views on life?  And how do I stop caring if the receiver thinks my gift is “tacky homemade”?  Good gift-givers give something the receiver wants to have while it seems like all I can do to give is whip up something from stuff around the house or bargain finds that I hope they like.  Most of the time that is the best I can do but is it enough?  Is it OK?

I try to accept all gifts as if they are my very favorite thing in the world and just what I wanted…even if it’s 2 sizes too small and neon pink…  I think that is the right way to receive a gift and I have tried to teach my children to respond to gifts they are given that way as well. In my opinion the receiver needs to show the giver that you are happy with whatever they gave you and never to give the impression that their gift wasn’t “good enough” because they didn’t have to give you anything at all.  Gifts are “bonus”, a “perk”, if you will, of a relationship and should never be expected.  The expectation that gifts will be received at a specific time/place or that a gift will be a certain thing is a Joy killer for everybody – don’t be that person!  Accept the gift in the spirit it was given and love the giver for loving you enough to spend their own precious time and resources on you.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas, I hope that you are appreciated more than your gifts and that you appreciate the givers in your life more than what you receive.  This is one of the biggest parts to the meaning of Christmas – unconditional love.