The holidays are upon us. For many, this is a time of giving. Many charities, religious groups, and other various organizations put the message out that giving is the way to feel good. And while I wholehearted agree that giving is indeed a good thing, I also want to talk about the joy of receiving.
“But wait,” I hear some people say, “Don’t you know that receiving is bad and/or selfish! Good people give, not receive!” To those people, I simply say, “Nope. You’re wrong.”
When somebody gives something to someone, the giver feels good because they are helping a person or group of people feel happier. However, have you ever given a gift to someone that doesn’t appreciate or want it? If you gave a present to someone, especially on that you’d put a lot of time and effort into getting, and that person flat out rejects your present, you generally feel pretty awful and upset. The joy that comes from giving a gift is generally only experienced if the receiver expresses joy in receiving it as well. In this manner, both the giver and receiver come away feeling better. That’s how it’s supposed to work anyway.
In my experience, it seems that most of the time, people don’t like being the receivers of gifts, particularly when those gifts represent something the receiver needs, but can’t provide it for themselves. I’ll use me as an example.
A few years ago, I was out of work and hadn’t had any luck in landing a new job. For the first time in my life, I had to file for unemployment and rely on State benefits to support my family. I felt a large amount of guilt for putting my family in that position and was trying everything I could to find work. Meanwhile, time continued to flow and the holidays approached. While my wife and I had worked out a plan for what we could do, it wasn’t going to be much. As the guilt and worry continued to weigh on my mind during what was supposed to be a season of happiness, a friend talked to me a couple of weeks before Christmas. He said that he and his wife had been talking and wanted to know if I’d feel okay if their family got some Christmas presents for my family. He said he wanted to check with me first because he knows that some people don’t like such acts and he didn’t want me to feel like a “charity case”.
Now, fortunately for me, I’d already decided how I’d react in such a moment. My decision had been made when I’d heard a story when I was a teenager. The story basically went like this: One day, a widow stopped by her church to give…