Being a Good Gift Receiver

Great point from Jen at Conversion Diary:

One of the things I’ve realized this year is that I need to practice a different kind of generosity at Christmas: being generous in receiving gifts.

I’m a big believer in not having too much “stuff” junking up our living space — and, frankly, the fight against clutter is a matter of survival when you’re trying to raise six children in a small three-bedroom house. Because of this, in past years I’ve been really uptight about the kind and number of gifts we receive. I’d pour a lot of energy into figuring out how to stop the seemingly endless inflow of trinkets and toys to the house without hurting feelings, and the main result was that it made me stressed and frustrated and the kids still received a lot of presents.

This year I’ve felt drawn to consider the fact that some people love shopping for kids and don’t have many young children in their lives to shop for, and that getting something for our kids is fun and pleasurable for them. It’s a new approach to Christmas to remember that being a good gift receiver can be as important as being a good gift giver. I’m going to make sure that nobody feels obliged to get things for us, and leave it at that. If I end up running out of space to put all the new stuff at the end of the Christmas season, it’ll be an opportunity to get rid of old things we don’t need anymore, and to be thankful for generous loved-ones.

Yes, yes, yes. Nobody talks about this, but there is such a thing as a good gift receiver, and there’s such a thing as a bad gift receiver too.

Good gift receivers (often, very young children fall into this category, but it could be any age) are people who are so excited and thankful about any gift that they make you feel like you just handed them a giant Publisher’s Clearinghouse check. My six-year-old nephew Jack is one of these people. Every birthday party with him is like a highlight reel from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

On the flip side, you have your bad gift receivers — people who manage to bring the whole room down by the simple act of opening a present. If you’re familiar with the phrases, “What am I supposed to do with this?” and, “I hope you kept the receipt,” then you know a bad gift receiver.

Also among bad gift receivers: the people who just refuse to let you give them anything. In some situations, it’s expected for the recipient to say something along the lines of, “Oh, no, you didn’t have to do that!” or “That’s just too much! I can’t accept that!” But some people just go on and on and on with that shtick for so long that, in the end, you feel like they’re doing you a favor by finally taking whatever you’re trying to give them.

When you receive gifts this holiday season, try to remember this: Every time you get a gift, really two people get gifts. You get the your gift, and the person who is giving you the gift gets the joy that comes from giving you the gift. When you are not a cheerful receiver of the gift, you rob the giver of that joy.

So don’t be one of those people who suck out all the joy from giving gifts. At the very least, just smile and say, “Thank you.”

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