Last week I wrote about how to be a great gift giver. Today I’m going to write about how to be a great recipient.
It shouldn’t be that hard, right? Who doesn’t love getting presents? Presents are fun!
But we’ve all had the experience of opening a present, and thinking, “What?” Or, “Ugh.”
We’ve all had that birthday or Christmas as a kid when we got way too many clothes and not enough toys. We’ve all gotten a present that seems to have no place in our lives. Or a present that was surely meant for someone very different from us. Those experiences can be very disappointing, especially because presents come with high expectations.
They key to mastering this situation is to look at any gift, no matter what it is, and see the love that comes with it. The point of the gift is to communicate love to you. Even if the gift does not communicate that love well, it is very important to acknowledge and respond to the love.
That’s why it’s so rude to be dismissive of a gift you just received. It seems like you aren’t just rejecting that gift, you’re rejecting the person’s love and care that went into that gift. That’s why when you receive a gift, even a gift you really don’t like, you can smile and say thank you and be genuinely grateful. Someone is communicating that they love you!
But as I wrote last week, that doesn’t mean that you have to hold on to that gift forever, or display it prominently in your home, or rave about it all the time. Once you have expressed your gratitude to the giver for the expression of love and maybe sent a thank you card, the purpose of the gift has been fulfilled. Neither party should have expectations about what needs to happen to the actual gift at that point.
This reality makes it a lot easier to gracefully receive a gift you don’t like. If you think you have to hold on to it, it can feel like you are receiving a burden that you have to carry through your next several moves. Knowing you can let it go removes that feeling of dread.
And there can be a place for honest conversations. If someone consistently gives you presents that you don’t like, you can gently suggest that they go in a different direction. Gentleness is key here, but there’s nothing wrong with bringing up your preferences.
When Andy and I started dating, I was grateful for everything he gave me, but I also let him know if I liked something else better. I told him I didn’t really like roses, because I didn’t want to establish a pattern where he got me roses, I was very enthusiastic, he thought I loved roses, and then I got roses for the rest of my life. I told him I prefer other flowers. Andy wants to make me happy, so he was grateful for the information. (Also most flowers are cheaper than roses, so that’s also nice!)
So to be an excellent gift recipient, express gratitude for the love that is shown forth in the gift, but know that after you do that you are no longer bound to the gift in any way. Be open to having honest conversations about your preferences, but always be gentle and sensitive.
And be sure to revel in all the great presents you get and give. Because even though presents can sometimes be complicated, they are still a lot of fun.