Musings on giving and receiving


As the season of giving and receiving comes to a close for another year, looking back, I’m sure I’m not the only one that finds Christmas (in addition to its religious significance) to be the obligatory giving day, just as Valentine’s Day is the obligatory romance day. The mad rush to shop for everyone on the list – to find that perfect gift and often somewhat guessing just to have SOMETHING. I’m not suggesting that giving is bad – on the contrary. I just want my giving to be from the heart. I love to give quality food as gifts because I see huge value in the enhanced health that quality food can provide. So my poor family receives gifts like raw pasture-fed butter, air-dried unrefined organic sea salt, raw organic honey, high vitamin cod-liver oil etc. Those gifts are truly from the heart, but I’m not sure they are what my family wants … maybe I’m giving those gifts more for my benefit than theirs. So, is that authentic giving or selfish giving?

Have you ever given someone a gift, and seen the look of horror in their eyes when they don’t have anything for you in return? Often those gifts are the most authentic and happily given and nothing is expected in return, yet instead of being received with joy, they can cause embarrassment. Have you ever felt badly when you received an unexpected gift? Often when I ask for gift ideas, the response is that nothing is wanted but time together, and although I know that that answer is a sincere one, I still seem to feel the need to purchase something. Why? Many of us in the Western world have so much stuff that we really don’t need or want anything more. I think that the pressure of needing a gift to give because of the cultural / social expectations of the season may take away from the meaning of the occasion.

Giving is not something that needs to be saved for special occasions. Giving should not cause financial strain or regret on the part of the giver, and it should not create obligation of any kind in the recipient. Often generosity requires practice and a belief in abundance. An exercise to help oneself feel more generous, might be to give something small away every day for a week or two, and notice our feelings around giving. Recognize any discomfort around giving and continue giving despite of the discomfort, and that comfort zone will expand with practice. As you give away to others, you will notice how it comes back to you 100 fold.

As the years go by, I find that more and more, the most precious thing I have is time. My time is worth far more to me than money, probably because I don’t seem to feel that I have enough of it. My time is probably the gift that my family and friends would appreciate the most, but it is also the gift that seems the hardest for me to give. Not because I don’t want to – I have to continue to work on re-arranging my life to make more time available. My goal for this next year is to be more generous with my time, and to be fully present with my friends and family without feeling anxious about the work that is not being completed while I am in their company. Hopefully as I change my belief about my lack of time into a more useful belief about having an abundance of time, the balance in my life that I am seeking will finally materialize.

Related tips:
An attitude of gratitude

Copyright 2006 Vreni Gurd


  1. Christy said,

    December 27, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

    I feel as though I could have written the very same thing myself and wish to express my gratitude to you for the gift of your time you set aside to write this. Warmest wishes to you in letting go of the aniexty over what is not done so that you may reconnect fully and peacefully with your friends and family. Sincerely, Christy Nichol

  2. ian in hamburg said,

    December 28, 2009 @ 7:37 am

    Hi Vreni,
    Hope you had a great Christmas. Speaking of time, I hope you have a great one at your little club réunion tomorrow! 🙂
    ian in hamburg

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    April 22, 2012 @ 7:11 am

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