You’re busy checking off the items on your to-do list. Most of the gifts
have been wrapped. And the holiday cards made it to the post office this
morning. Oh, but you forgot about your daughter’s teacher! And what to take
to the Smith’s annual Christmas Eve get together? And then the cookies for
the school carnival and you used the last of the sugar in yesterday’s
brownies for the church fund raiser.

Then just at the same time that you are trying to figure out what to wear to
the office party, what should occur? Your two tiny elves run into your
bedroom loaded down with treasures they made at school, all meant just for

But you haven’t got the time to stop and pay attention. The party’s in
just an hour. “Put them under the tree,” you command, turning back to your
closet, missing the dejection flattening those eager faces that want nothing
more than to please you.

You and your spouse make it to the party on time, but when several people
there tell you how attractive you look, you don’t care because you’re
bothered by your kids' sulkiness as the two of you left the house. You wonder
what was troubling them.

Two days later your darling sweetheart arrives home from work with a bonus
check, setting up a surprise by placing it on your pillow with a note that
says, “To thank you for who you are, this will take us to Paris in the
springtime! MUCH LOVE from Your Biggest Fan!” That night you stay up late to
get those dozens and dozens of cookies baked, so you can drop them off when
you take the kids to school the next day. When you crawl into bed at 1 AM
your honey is fast asleep so you can’t turn the light on. You assume that
the crinkling paper you lay your head on is some of your darling partner’s
minute office work and throw it on the floor. The next day you have to be
told about the surprise and the disappointment caused because you
missed it.

Gifts galore!!! And no one to receive them.

The old adage admonishes "’Tis better to give than to receive.” But when the
giving lands on unreceptive hearts, what good is it? In fact, as our all too
familiar tale above makes clear, the excited, observant, appreciative givers
find that their gifts are ignored and their feelings are hurt.

The gift of receiving is largely overlooked and overshadowed by the need to
give. While gifts require money and time to purchase, or money, time, and
labor to make, the gift of receiving is free and priceless.

You can’t put a price tag on your children’s glee seeing your face light up
with pleasure when their candle-made-in-a-milk-carton turns into the finest
glow the season can shine in your direction. There’s no material value that
equates with friends and acquaintances complimenting your looks,
your talent, your friendship. And your spouse’s romantic appreciation for
who you really are, well, it’s all you really wished for, isn’t it? And yet…

And yet it’s not too late to make a resolution that this year you will give
the gift of receiving, the precious gift of paying attention to every person
who wants to please you. You needn’t gush or say you like something
you don’t. But you do have to notice any feelings that arise telling you
that you don’t deserve all this generosity. You do have to stay on
guard against the distractions of your grocery list or that phone call you
forgot to make that want to steal you away precisely at the time that
someone is filling your plate with emotionally delicious goodies!


Because the gift of receiving, the heartfelt “Thank you” is often difficult
to give. We’ve all been taught not to be self-centered, to focus on the
other person while remaining modest and humble. However, most of
us obey those instructions to the point of self-denial.

But then, ZAP! in one split second you are center stage. And that early
teaching rings loud and clear: “Get rid of it! Pass it off! Don’t get caught
being admired, appreciated, or even loved! Who do you think you are?”

Take the gift of receiving seriously. When you embrace the beauty and
generosity of what others give you, you will be changed. And you will be
changed into a more self-respectful and self-loving person.

What better gift could you give yourself, and everyone else, than that?


Bestselling authors of four relationship books, Judith Sherven, PhD and James
Sniechowski, PhD
have redefined the future of weddings. From now on
brides AND grooms will be co-partners every step along the way. Be sure
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