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Giving and Receiving

It’s December (already!), the holiday season. Many of us have already started to think about giving and receiving, in relationship to holiday gifts. We’re making our lists, both of what we want, and what we want to give to our family members and friends.

Giving is something that comes naturally to most of us, especially during this time of year. We give material gifts during the holidays. We give of our time, serving in soup kitchens on Thanksgiving, or singing Christmas carols at a convalescent home. We give of our money, so that all children might enjoy gifts,  and so that homeless people might have gloves or blankets.

I love that the season inspires us to give. I’m not sure why we are more inclined to give during this time of year. Maybe it’s because we’re already in the “giving mode” related to the holiday season. Or maybe we are more apt to think about those less fortunate than us, given that we receive so many material gifts during this time of year.

I wonder what life would be like if we gave like this all the time. I’m not suggesting that we shower each other with material gifts year round. But what if we gave small gifts throughout the year to people who make a difference in our lives? What if we gave of our time and money to people and organizations that need both year-round, not just during the holidays? What if we hugged more people when they looked like they needed one? Or complimented our partners, our co-workers, and even strangers on their appearance? What if we praised our staff, our family and others we encounter for their achievements, their behavior or their work?

Just as we must learn to give, we must also learn to receive. For some of us this comes easy---children are pretty good at it! For others, though, it is not as easy to receive. We can fall into the trap of feeling like we don’t deserve the gift. Or we then feel indebted to the gift-giver, and will be until we give something in return. Or even that the gift isn’t “good enough.”

As we give gifts to others—whether material gifts, or compliments, or time, or money, or praise—we are really giving love. And so it is when others are giving gifts to us. By receiving, we accept the joy and love given to us by the giver. It is very important that we allow others to give, so that they, too, can experience the joy and love of giving.

It really is the thought that counts. And I’m so glad that we think of others, and of giving, and of receiving during this time of year. May we carry this love and joy in our hearts throughout the year, both giving freely to others, and receiving freely from them.

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