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Kelly Bos

After months of planning, shopping, and wrapping, Christmas has left again for another year. For some, it met or exceeded expectations, for others it didn't. Some happily accepted all of their gifts; gifts they didn't ask for, things they didn't need, some even conceded that the thought counted. Others thought that there was just too little thought.

Hopefully whatever the result, thank yous were given and proper gratitude was expressed. With everything going on in the world, is the issue of not getting what we want at holidays or celebrations bordering on the ridiculous? Yes! We are a society of wanting what we want and justifying our frustration when we don't get it. We need to suck it up and simply say THANK YOU!

I was recently at a celebration where a child received a sort of comical gift. A bit of fun, but the child's response and how much they didn't like it was appalling. The parents sort of laughed it off, but we the guests jumped in and raved about how wonderful the gift was. I was even tempted to lecture my own kid on the spot just to make sure she would never create such a production when receiving a gift of her own. Again, it was a different kind of gift, but that doesn't matter. I believe it is our responsibility to correct, show, teach and model to our kids the importance of gratitude and a proper reception of gifts.

At times receiving can be complicated. And here are some of the areas for us to keep in check that can affect our attitude of gratitude:

  1. Expectation: We do it to ourselves. We want and we want specifically, Merry Christamass and Merry Christmusts. We tie our happiness to something believing it will make us happy and when this is not fulfilled we get disappointed. We might have had a little help; our boyfriend might have bought a present shaped exactly like a ring box that turned out to be fridge magnets, you might have hinted up a storm about something and thought the hinted-to caught on, or your boss might have been promising a Christmas bonus of epic proportions and ended up being a company golf towel—remember how Clark received the jelly of the month on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? These situations can make our hearts sink a little, but if we keep our expectations and our pool down payments in check there is really nothing to say other than thank you.

  2. Fear: I know I have worried when I have received something I think the person has spent too much money on or I don't think I will use especially when finances have been tight. The worry is coming from a decent place, but I have learned it is better just to say "thank you." Let people choose their own budget and what they would like to give you.

  3. Interpretation: When we interpret the gift as a marking stick for how much we matter to the person we are creating a problem. This issue often comes up in romantic relationships where the one partner feels the other doesn't value them enough to take special care in buying a gift. I often hear clients share that it wasn't that they wanted something extravagant, but rather wanted something that shows the person cared, a favourite magazine or some trinket that uniquely represents them would have sufficed. Being handed cash on the day, year after year, can sometimes feel like a cop out. However, some people don't really value gifts, it isn't their love language. They will serve, spend time with you or verbally affirm before they ever think of gifts. It might not always excuse the fact that a gift is important to you, but not getting certain gifts doesn't necessarily mean you aren't cared about.

    I have also seen people complain about not getting enough or the right gift when the person has put in effort. This behaviour really doesn't lend itself well to an excuse. In this case you are simply putting in an order, a demand on someone else that they then have to fulfill. You are best to leave this exchange for the gifts you order for yourself as it takes the act of giving and receiving completely out of the picture.

    At the end of the day a gift is a gift, so say thank you. Be thankful. As parents we have little people watching our every move and we want to model responses of appreciativeness. Yes, people might not have put in as much thought as you did into their gift giving, they may have wasted money on something you may never use, and they might have given you the wrong idea about what you were getting but that is inconsequential. You are responsible for you. Being a cheerful receiver is a better way to live as satisfaction is realized when you are grateful and counting your blessings. And in the end, living cheerfully and thankfully is a pretty big gift to yourself.

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