Tag Archives: giving

Gifts that Endure

family collage

A gift is defined by how it impacts the heart. 

Sadly, we’re hypnotized by ad campaigns that tie the act of gift-giving to the act of spending money. In fact, the more money spent, the greater the perceived value of the gift—and the greater proof of love.

Something has definitely gone awry when the measure of one’s love is determined by the amount of money sacrificed.

The word “sacrifice” is no exaggeration for many people around this time of year. Some have difficulty paying for heat and groceries. So, instead of joy in their heart during the holiday season, despair, guilt and anxiety fill the air.

Jerry is a good example. He’s a construction worker with four children. When I counseled him a few years back, jobs were scarce. I couldn’t help but sense his heavy heart as he talked about how disappointed he was with himself. Why the disappointment? Because he wasn’t able to buy enough “stuff” for his family. He was convinced he was a failure as a dad.

Another client, Nicole—a single mom—was equally distressed. She was laid off so her Christmas-anxiety was the cause of many sleepless nights and, like Jerry, she also felt like a failure as a parent.

How can Jerry and Nicole arrive at peace? I like what The Beatles had to say about that:  “All you need is love.”

As a therapist, I deal with issues of love and abandonment—stemming from childhood—all the time. But I’ve yet to encounter an adult client grieving over having received too few gifts as a child.

The fact that Jerry and Nicole are concerned for their children tells me their hearts are in the right place. The love—that precious commodity underlying a healthy parent-child bond—is more than evident.

In an effort to have them rethink their definition of a gift I asked them two questions: What would bring joy to your children’s hearts? Throughout the year, what do they ask you to do with them?

To get a sense of the sheer magic of those questions, imagine yourself at age eight and being asked by your parent, “What would you like us to do together?”

Our involvement with our children spells love to them. So my advice to Jerry and Nicole was simple: “Give them you.”

Sure, there’s a thrill—a rush—when receiving material gifts. But more often than not, they impact our pleasure circuits—which are fleeting—not our heart.

Ask yourself this: How many gifts do you really remember from last year? I would venture to guess that joyful experiences—involving people—remain memorable, evoking inner smiles yet today. Such memories clearly take center stage . . . because they impact the heart.

 

Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.

(c) Salee Reese 2015

 

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Filed under General Interest, Parenting

The Unboxable Gift

gift box

How would you define a gift? A few years back when I posed that question to various people, I learned that a bumper sticker held the truth:

“The best things in life aren’t things.”

Hmmm . . . truth shows up in the least expected places at times. (Fodder for a new post, wouldn’t you agree?)

I wrote a column about my finds—many shared their viewpoints. In that column, I also wrote about the difficulty several of us have in being on the receiving end. In other words, we can easily give but can we just as easily receive? Melanie, a former client is a perfect example. I told her that allowing others to give to her was a gift in itself.

We all agree it’s rewarding to give, so when we let others give to us we’re doing them a favor.

Some people don’t see the gift they are to others. Kay was one of those people. Sadly, she was blind to her own value. So immensely wrong she was! You can read about her here.

For something to qualify as a “gift,” it need only be paired with the heart.

How would YOU define a gift? I love getting your feedback. And by the way . . . happy holidays!

Names are changed to honor confidentiality

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Filed under Contemplations, General Interest