Have you ever given a gift to someone thinking it would be so meaningful and special to them, only to found out they weren’t really a fan? Maybe they thanked you profusely, but ended up never using the item?
Yesterday, I got to hear Jay Utley, one of my favorite teachers, talk about what makes a real gift.
He told a story about how he and his wife had given a very special framed antique as a wedding gift to a young couple. The first time he was invited to this couple’s house for dinner, he looked and looked with anticipation to find the special place of honor they’d chosen for the gift. He was shocked and disappointed to find it hanging over the toilet in the hall bathroom. What he learned from that experience is this:
“A real gift is a gamble. When we give something, we lose control of it. A true gift leaves the giver exposed. It’s a risk.” ~ Jay Utley
His little lesson really has me thinking about the gifts we give this time of year.
I know for me, it’s hard to spend so much time shopping, wrapping and gifting only to see my kids blow past a gift I thought would be meaningful to play with a whoopee cushion. But it doesn’t keep me from showing up every year with more meaningful gifts amid the Nerf guns and Legos. It’s a risk, but it’s worth it.
This time of year, it’s easy to feel like our gifts are overlooked, undervalued and underappreciated.
Of course it’s about the gifts we put under the tree to share with friends and family, but I’m thinking even a little more than that. What about the gift of our time when we invest it with people we love? Do we subconsciously expect them to make good use of it? Like when we drive to our in-law’s house to stay a few days, are we expecting something in return, like kindness and respect? Or are we giving a real gift, by showing up with no strings of expectation attached?
What about the meal you (clearly not I) prepared for days? Are you willing to lose control and offer it as a free gift with no strings attached?
Cook it anyway.
The Christmas cards you sent? What if they go straight in the trash?
Send them anyway.
What about that letter you need to write? It’s a risk. It will leave you exposed.
Write it anyway.
The apology you know need to offer? It’s a gamble, you’ll lose control.
Say I’m sorry anyway.
The love you need to show to someone who has hurt you?
Love them anyway.
A gift is not a real gift if it doesn’t cost you something.
Take the gamble this year. Give your gift anyway. It will be worth it.
to more love,