It’s gift giving time again! The stores have been packed with harried people hunting and pecking for this toy or that toy, people have maced each other over flat screen tvs, there’s a waiting list a mile long for a few video games, and more people than you can imagine have maxed out their credit cards all in order to buy the “perfect” gifts.
I knew I was a grown up when I honestly and truly did begin to believe that it is much better to give than to receive. It shocked me the first year that I realized that I didn’t really care if I got anything at all, but was overwhelmed with excitement at the thought of my loved ones opening up the gifts I had for them. I have been blessed enough in my life to have received amazing things wrapped in pretty boxes and paper, but what makes my heart really dance with delight is seeing the shine in someone’s eyes when they accept a little piece of my love and affection and appreciation. It truly is better to give than to receive.
That said, I am human. Although I no longer expect them nor do I request or need them, I do like receiving gifts. I’m very lucky – I get gifts all the time! Don’t be jealous – you do, too! The trick is to recognize them. Here’s a hint: they don’t always come wrapped in paper or with bows. All you need is an attitude of gratitude and you’ll soon see that you are surrounded by gifts. Be present to see your presents, you dig? Here’s a few of the simple gifts I have received lately for which I am eternally grateful:
The gift of moving on. When you have done all that you can do for / with / about a person or a situation and nothing seems to change, it is a gift to acknowledge that you have done all that you can do and then allow yourself to let it go and move on. There is freedom in self-preservation and occasionally, freedom in goodbyes.
The gift of care. I have been sick. Kind of sick for quite a long time, really sick for several days. I knew it was coming, but I’m stubborn and determined and, like a fool, I pushed through it only to have it come and bite me in the arse with a vengeance. Eventually, I had no choice but to stop. I had to start practicing self-care. Part of self-care is accepting care from others. I have been blessed with the care of my sister teachers at Yoga Sol who have covered my classes when I am too sick to teach. I have been blessed by the care of my husband who lets me sleep in, spend hours in a steaming hot bath so that I can breathe, who has made meals and driven kids and rubbed my back. I have been blessed with the care of my mom who watched my kids, brought me OTC medication, and offered love and support. And I have been blessed with the care of my friends who offer to bring soup, to send meds, to make me laugh through the yuckiness. When I see each one of you, I see a bright red bow on your head. Thank you.
The gift of a good deal. Our refrigerator broke over a year ago. It started freezing up and then leaking all over the floor. It ruined produce and anything else that was in its ugly path. For more than a year, we thawed everything out, tore the fridge apart, used every redneck repair you could imagine, and kept it limping along. Refrigerators are expensive, folks, and when you live on a cash only existence, the idea of buying one is enough to make you lose your appetite. 2 weeks ago, however, it became abundantly clear we couldn’t keep kludging along; we needed to buy a new one. We looked at used appliances and in the classifieds, but ultimately decided that we’d rather shell out the big bucks once than to shell out a little bucks every few months to keep buying used appliances. We found a simple but adequate top-freezer fridge for $725 in a store. As we were on the way to the sales person, we found a larger, higher end, side-by-side on clearance because it a) didn’t have a box, and b) had a slight dent in the door. It was $10 less! We very excitedly approached the sales person and told him of our desire to purchase this clearanced appliance (don’t we all have a little ding in our doors?) As he was ringing it up, he mentioned to my husband that he had a brand new, still in the box, even better model in the store-room that was $200 cheaper. WHY was it so cheap? Because it was white (no one buys white anymore – except us) and it was a model from June, so they weren’t putting it on the sales floor anymore. It’s value was $1100. Including tax and delivery, we paid $570. Now, the sales person didn’t have to tell us about this deal. And, if we hadn’t decided that a little ding in the door was okay with us, he’d never have known that we would consider a side by side with ice and water in the door. Because we were willing to accept less than perfect, we got even more than we imagined we could and we paid even less than we had planned. There’s a lesson there, folks.
The gift of perfect timing. I love my husband. Period. Part of loving with him comes with dealing with and, to some extent, supporting his obsessions. He doesn’t have many, but the biggest one he has is with Classic Toyota Landcruisers. He LOVES them. He bought his first one not long before we got together 12 years ago and hasn’t been without one since. And by classic, I mean classic: his first one was a 1983 and his current truck is a 1985. I don’t get it. They are old. They require a lot of work. They rust. They fall apart. They get horrible gas mileage. They are also awesome, fun, and I cannot for the life of me think of a better suited vehicle for my husband. But, like I said, they fall apart and they require a lot of work. His current truck is due for relicensing and it probably won’t pass inspection as it is. He has been stressed out about putting more money into this truck. He wanted to find another one to buy and sell his (you wouldn’t believe Landcruiser nuts – they will by a burned out frame for $1000, for goodness sake.) He hunted and searched and knew that, come December 31, he’d have to stop driving his truck. Yesterday he got a phone call – someone he had been “truck courting” agreed to sell his 1986 (a’well, we’re movin’ on uuuuup.) He’s picking it up tonight. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, the negotiated price is acceptable, and my husband can finally breathe easier. Believe me, he might be getting the truck, but I am getting the gift.
The gift of creativity. I have been blessed with many things, but the one I love the most is my sense of creativity. I like to give many gifts to my friends and family, but our budget doesn’t always allow for it. This year, I am especially excited about 2 of the gifts I am giving. They are perfect for the recipients, they are thoughtful and practical and really are perfectly designed for who the recipients are. And neither of them cost me a single red cent. I am grateful for my creativity – which also came to me for free.
The gift of saying “No.” This is a new one! As i mentioned, I have been sick. Last night was the annual huge blow out holiday party at my husband’s company. It is always a big ol’ deal and people get crazy and wild and have a good time. We had arranged for childcare, I had killer shoes to wear (my main requirement,) and had been looking forward it — until it got close to the time to leave. I am sick. I didn’t feel like going. My husband isn’t feeling too well, either, and he didn’t feel like going. We looked at each other and agreed – we wanted and needed to stay home. So we did! Another example: Every year we have been together, we have traveled on Christmas Day to visit his family. We have always hated it. We have children and it’s a huge pain in the ass to ask them to stop playing with their new toys to get in a car and drive out of town to visit people who drive us batty (us being me and my husband – the kids love them.) We decided this year that we would say, “No” to the trip out of town on Christmas Day. We’ll make it the day before, but on Christmas, we are staying in town. The sense of freedom is overwhelming! Who knew that a 2 letter word could open up the whole world?!
I could go on and on… the gift of gratitude, the gift of time, the gift of sleep, the gift of love, the gift of laughter… Gifts are EVERYWHERE and most of them don’t cost a dime. All you have to do is look, accept, and say Thank you. This the gift to be simple. Tis the gift to be free. Give and you shall receive.