I’ve received more expensive gifts. I already have a cup full of pens on my desk. I didn’t really “need” a new pen.
So why am I excited about my pen?
It is a tangible reminder that someone thought of me. Someone cared enough about me to gift the pen to me. Someone shared with me as a way of communicating value and love.
Plus, it features an orange barrel and orange is the best color ever. Period.
As I am enjoying this new pen, I have been thinking about the nature of gifts and gift-giving. I went so far as to share some of these thoughts with a men’s group I participate in. Some thoughts…
Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages, suggests:
- Gifts are a visible symbol of love.
- Gifts convey thoughtfulness. “You thought of me.”
- Gifts come in all sizes and shapes.
- The gift of self may be the most powerful of gifts.
With that in mind, I believe:
Gift-giving is an art that can be learned and taught.
Parents can model gift-giving and gift-receiving with their children. We can demonstrate how and when to give gifts. We can practice and talk about gift-giving. When I recently purchased flowers for my wife, I had my son help me pick them out, put them in a vase and share in the joy as my wife was surprised by the unexpected gift. I want him to be a flower-giver, a surprise gift-giver. I try to practice this behavior. I try to model this behavior for my children.
Question: What is the best gift you have ever received?
The key to good gift-giving is to know the person you are giving a gift to.
We can certainly give good gifts to strangers or those we don’t know well, but I would suggest the best of gifts are those given to those we know the most. Those whose hearts we understand. Those who we have spent time with. By listening and paying attention we gain insight into their desires and dreams. We pick up hints as to what their interests and passions are. We build a storehouse of information which can then guide the nature of the gifts we give.
Question: What is the best gift you have ever given?
Good gifts bring joy and delight.
Oh don’t miss this. A friend shared the story of his wife commenting her need for a new vacuum cleaner (you see where this is going, don’t you?). Thinking he was listening and picking up on the clues, he bought a great new vacuum. Had he just come home and said, “Hey, I knew we needed this. Here it is.” things probably would have been fine. Instead, he presented the vacuum cleaner as a gift. Now, I don’t know anybody who takes delight and finds joy in housework. This was not a good gift as my friend learned and I am sure has been reminded of several times since.
Question: Can you name a gift you gave or received that didn’t bring joy or delight? One that did?
As we find ourselves just a short time past our celebration of Easter, I wonder if we understand Easter as the best gift ever? I wonder if we experience the empty tomb with about as much excitement as we might experience opening an empty box at our birthday party? (see this illustrated here.) Do we recognize Easter as a gift that communicates how intimately we are known? Does Easter provide real joy and delight or do we lump it in with the vacuum cleaners and underwear we receive. Sure we might “need” it, but do we want it?
Do we find ourselves even today filled with hope and excitement and joy and delight and wonder and awe? Are we learning more and more about living the new life Easter represents? Are we singing and dancing our praises? Are we smiling from ear to ear with anticipation of the unfolding good gift that continues to emerge in us and around us and through us?
Are we experiencing Easter as the greatest gift or as just another holiday. Have we celebrated or are we celebrating? And if the party continues, who are we sharing this great gift with?
Life is better together,