You\’re busy checking off the items on your to-do list. Most of the
gifts have been wrapped. And the holiday cards made it to the post
office this morning. Oh, but you forgot about your daughter\’s teacher!
And what to take to the Smith\’s annual Christmas Eve get together? And
then the cookies for the school carnival and you used the last of the
sugar in yesterday\’s brownies for the church fund raiser.

Then just at the same time that you are trying to figure out what to
wear to the office party, what should occur? Your two tiny elves run
into your bedroom loaded down with treasures they made at school, all
meant just for you!

No Time to Pay Attention
But you haven\’t got the time to stop and pay attention. The
party\’s that night. “Put them under the tree,” you command, turning
back to your closet, missing the dejection flattening those eager faces
that want nothing more than to please you.

You and your husband make it to the party on time, but when several
people there tell you how beautiful you look, you don\’t care because
you\’re bothered by your kid\’s sulkiness as the two of you left the
house. You wonder what was troubling them.

Two days later your darling husband arrives home from work with his
bonus check, setting up a surprise by placing it on your pillow with a
note that says, “To thank you for who you are, this will take us to
Paris in the springtime! MUCH LOVE from Your Biggest Fan!” That night
you stay up late to
get those dozens and dozens of cookies baked, so you can drop
them off when you take the kids to school the next day. When you crawl
into bed at 1 AM your husband is fast asleep so you can\’t turn the
light on. You assume that the crinkling paper you lay your head on is
some part of your husband\’s last minute office work and throw it on the
floor. The next day he has to tell you about his surprise and how
disappointed he is that you missed it.

No One to Receive
Gifts galore!!! And no one to receive them.

The old adage admonishes “\’Tis better to give than to receive.” But
when the giving lands on unreceptive hearts, what good is it? In fact,
as our all too familiar tale above makes clear, the excited, observant,
appreciative givers find that their gifts are ignored and their
feelings are hurt.

The gift of receiving is largely overlooked and overshadowed by the
need to give. While gifts require money and time to purchase, or money,
time, and labor to make, the gift of receiving is free and priceless.

You can\’t put a price tag on your children\’s glee seeing your face
light up with pleasure when their candle-made-in-a-milk-carton turns
into the finest glow the season can shine in your direction. There\’s no
material value that equates with friends and acquaintances
complimenting your beauty, your talent, your friendship. And your
husband\’s romantic appreciation for who you really are, well, it\’s all
you really wished for, isn\’t it? And yet . . .

It\’s Never Too Late
And yet it\’s not too late to make a resolution that this year you
will give the gift of receiving, the precious gift of paying attention
to every person who wants to please you. You needn\’t gush or say you
like something you don\’t. But you do have to notice any feelings that
arise telling you that you don\’t deserve all this generosity. You do
have to stay on guard against the distractions of your grocery list or
that phone call you forgot to make that want to steal you away
precisely at the time that someone is filling your plate with
emotionally delicious goodies!

Why?
Because the gift of receiving, the heartfelt “Thank you” is often
difficult to give. We\’ve all been taught not to be self-centered, to
focus on the other person while remaining modest and humble. However,
most of
us obey those instructions to the point of self-denial.

But then, ZAP! in one split second you are center stage. And that early
teaching rings loud and clear: “Get rid of it! Pass it off! Don\’t get
caught being admired, appreciated, or even loved! Who do you think you
are?”

Take the gift of receiving seriously. When you embrace the beauty and
generosity of what others give you, you will be changed. And you will
be changed into a more self-respectful and self-loving woman. What
better gift could you give yourself, and everyone else, than that?

*********
Action points:
*** Exercise your receiving muscle by making a conscious habit to
immediately, and as sincerely as possible, express your thanks.
*** Set aside a minimum of 15 minutes every evening to have a
receptive discussion with your spouse about each other\’s day.
*** Become the kind of person who is known for joyful living, not just good in a crisis.
*** Keep a Blessings Received list and keep track daily of all
the goodness that comes to you (or you and your spouse). You\’ll
discover there\’s so much more than you now realize.
*** When you pay someone a compliment and they brush you off, learn to ask them to take you more seriously.