Quite some time ago, I was chatting to an acquaintance. She had just had her niece and nephew stay over for the holidays. She had truly treated the little ones to movies and ice- creams and so on. She loved the time she spent with them, but it had been marred. She said to me that her brother had not even said a thank you. Did she have the children to stay because she wanted to be with them, or because she wanted the recognition, gratitude and perhaps even recognition from her brother. Even if her brother had asked her to take the kids, then her expectation of thanks marred what would have been a period of joy.
Christmas, birthdays and other celebrations are occasions when we give gifts to each other. Do we give our of expectation, or guilt or maybe even with the view to receive a gift back on our special day? Perhaps it is purely for the recognition and thanks. I believe it should be about showing how much you appreciate and love the person to whom the gift is given. Whether they give thanks or not. Their expression of gratitude or lack thereof should not have any impact on your own expression of giving.
This ability to give freely without expectation of compensation in some form or another is severely lacking in our society. Perhaps this is due to our culture and could be caused by the way in which we teach our children. We teach them to ask politely and then to thank politely. We don’t truly teach how to give. Although young children are extremely giving in nature, this instinct is not nurtured. Instead the children are taught how to ask and receive and are not taught how to give graciously.
At my boys’ school, they are currently requesting new toys to be given to underprivileged children. Both boys did buy toys for this cause out of their own money. I just wonder if it is too easy. They just put the toy in the box. They cannot see the joy or impact that gift will have on the child receiving it. There does not need to be a verbal thank you, but seeing the impact of a good deed would increase the possibility of further good deeds. Eventually, there would be a greater tendency to give than to receive.
Another point would be putting thought into a gift. Truly understanding what the other person most decides or needs can be more meaningful than the actual item. It is too easy to just give money – which I have to admit, I do a lot. This just doesn’t show any depth of care for the receiver. How on earth do we expect out children to grow up into caring people if we don’t take the time to care?
My thought is this, if you do something for someone because you truly care for them, then it will not matter what their response is. In fact, their response will most likely be better as they will know you’ve done it out of love.