Don’t forget to receive this Christmas

We all know Christmas is a time for giving (much emphasis is placed on this) and sometimes, we hear Christmas is a time for giving and receiving. But, are we really receiving? As in, receiving in the genuine sense? I know, I haven’t been.

My sister recently asked me what I wanted for Christmas and her question really irritated me. For one, shouldn’t she know me well enough to judge what’d make a suitable gift for me? And, I don’t even want anything. I don’t want her spending time and money on me – two contradicting thoughts of an emotional 20 something.

Alas, this snobbish behavior is not new to me and in particular when it comes to dealing with my family. For example, last week, when my mother messaged me a bunch of cheesy inspirational pictures instructing that I appreciate my life and count my blessings, my first response was: “what makes you think I haven’t been?” and later, “why are you sending me these?”.

When Person A compliments Person B on her scrunchy and Person B shrugs and mumbles: “oh this old thing…” or when Jack’s father hands Jack a law-school brochure when the entire universe knows Jack wants to tap-dance for a living, and Jack gives Jack Senior a look that reads go f%&$ a donkey, they are breaking the cycle of giving.

The act of giving is, in most cases, incomplete without genuine receiving. Which means when we are given something, whether it be a hug, a compliment, wanted or unwanted advice, a meal or another f’in key ring(not sure why these are popular with my kids), it becomes our obligation, whether we like it or not, to receive. Wholeheartedly. To make eye contact, smile and say: thank you, thank you for thinking of me. In Sadie Stein’s words, “You have to feel good about yourself to accept a gift. You must feel worthy of it. It must seem to you not terrible, but natural that someone has considered your thoughts and feelings and tastes, and spent time choosing and wrapping. You are loved.”

In that sense, receiving is also giving.