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.