We are constantly reminded that it is “the thought that counts” while at the same time we are bombarded with commercial promotions that imply that the quality of the thought is demonstrated by the cost of the gift.
Many of us work hard at finding just the right present for each occasion. But, if gift-giving is an art, gift-receiving can be an even finer art form.
Give a small child a present and she immediately begins to explore all its facets. It absorbs her whole focus and the person who gave it is forgotten. When prompted, she might lisp a perfunctory, “Thanks,” but the only real gratification for you, the giver, is observing this child’s pleasure.
As we mature, we realize that responsibility is attached to the gifts we receive. It is our job to express appreciation to the giver and acknowledge that, no matter how ill-chosen the gift sometimes is, we must recognize that it cost the giver something; thought, time and/or money, so we do our best to show delight in the gift.
As new Christians, most of us focus on the gift of salvation. We explore everything it means in our lives and delight in our discoveries. We thank God for the gift, but our thoughts remain more on ourselves and this delightful gift than on the one who gives it.
As we mature in our faith it is a natural step to begin to focus more on the giver and the the great price he paid. That’s when the deepest, most heartfelt gratitude kicks in.
Accepting a gift graciously, making the giver feel happy and proud, takes thought and genuine appreciation. We’ve all seen it demonstrated by a mother accepting a bouquet of dandelions from her toddler, or even prized blooms from her garden uprooted by a six-year-old, and presented with innocent pride. The wise mother recognizes the love being handed to her and responds with gratitude to the real gift.
We receive gifts, unexpected and sometimes undeserved, every day. Receiving these blessings, however small, however large, is an art worth mastering.
May you have many opportunities to hone this craft today and in the days to come.