Simple gifts

Accepting gifts has always been hard for me.  I viewed it as a sign of weakness, either of need or of greed.  It was supposed to be better to give than to receive, so receiving was tinted with shame.  I used to think that my reaction to gifts was a sign of my selfishness.  I was sure I was never giving enough to be worthy of taking anything.  Being offered something was a reminder that I needed to get giving more.

I had a few people over at my house last night.  A coworker had made some gluten free rosemary flatbreads and brought some high end bruschetta and hummus.  The flatbreads were disappearing but somehow the bruschetta and hummus did not get opened.  As my coworker left I tried to give them back to her.  Another friend stood behind her and gestured wildly everytime I tried to give them back.  I accepted them with guilt.

I know that my coworker who brought the food does not have much money.  She tries to hide it, but she has let a few remarks escape that let me know how tight things are.  I felt bad at taking something from someone who didn’t have a lot.

I just occured to me how patronizing it was for me to think I knew how she should or should not spend her money.  If she decided that bringing this food was important and in her budget, who was I to tell her she is wrong?  She is an adult fully capable of managing her money.  By refusing I would have been treating her like a child.

I am now enjoying rosemary flatbread with chipotle hummus, no guilt.

8 thoughts on “Simple gifts

  1. ... Zoe ~ says:

    I was going to say, if you don’t want it, I’ll take it. :mrgreen:

    I have learned to graciously accept in a situation like this. I have been told that it brings joy to the giver. She probably doesn’t get to give as much as she’d like and to do so, as I said, gives them joy. 🙂

  2. ncsteph says:

    I would also suggest considering it a “hostess gift”-type situation… you opened your home, provided a comfortable atmosphere, engaging conversation and fantastic company*… you have already given… taking what she’s given you just makes things “even” in the give & take see-saw.

    * I can only assume these were offered, but I think I know you well enough to assume this much is true 🙂

  3. The Wise Fool says:

    Rosemary flatbread with chipotle hummus sounds divine!

    I, too, have/had trouble with gifts. I was always pretty happy with what I already had, which, while far from abundant, was more than sufficient. There’s that thought that goes through my mind that any particular gift could have been given to someone in need as opposed to me. And there’s that general guilt about giving versus receiving too. I still have a tinge of guilt from time to time (thus the “have/had”), but I am much better about it now.

    But now that you mention it, I think you are right about such gift rejection being a little patronizing.

    • prairienymph says:

      A lot of our Christmas gifts end up in a charity because we just don’t need them or have space for them. It is nice to give them away because we don’t want them as opposed to feeling guilty for having them.

  4. I love both giving and receiving gifts.

    Something I heard once, that really stuck with me, is that when you accept a gift graciously, and make it clear you appreciate the gift, that is a gift you are giving in return. Because, at least for me, most of the fun of giving something is seeing the recipient enjoy it!

    I got lots of practice at this when Shawn and I were touring–friends and family gave us money, so many people (like you!) let us stay in their homes, or took us out for meals, or picked us up with our bicycles, or worked on our bicycles…and sometimes I didn’t feel like I “deserved” how much kindness people were showing us. But a sincere “thank you” goes a long way, and I quickly figured out that a lot of people just wanted to hear our stories about our travels. It seemed like a fair exchange to me.

    • prairienymph says:

      It was really nice to have you! I was not thinking about fairness or exchanges, just that it was great fun to get to visit with you guys for a bit.

      That advice reminds me of one of my friends who she figured out that she got more compliments if she showed how happy she was to get them. I figured out that if I was stunned and awkward when people complimented me, I got them less. We were both happy.

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