We are now officially in the “Season of Gift-Giving.” We live in a culture of entitlement which causes us to think that the Universe is about US and that others must comply with our wishes. Therefore even this season of “Peace On Earth” can be fraught with dangers! The giving of a gift requires that it leave our hands. This implies that we must let go of the gift in order to give it! And yet there are many ways to hang onto a gift even once it has left our hands! Instead of gracing someone’s life with some happiness, when given with the wrong mindset the giving of a gift can have horrible consequences.
How about the way some people get angry when the recipient uses their new gift card to buy something that we consider ugly, muttering to ourselves about how the gift was wasted? Our attitude about it poisons our relationship with that person! We have poisoned ourselves through our desire to retain control over the gift given. Or how about our feelings being hurt when the recipient of our gift reveals either a dismissive or ungrateful attitude about it? Again WE wind up as the victim of our gift-giving… as the victim of our expectations concerning the gift-giving!
Gifts should not be given with any kind of agenda! Give it and let it go! It is nice if the gift is either really needed or at least appreciated but more important for the Giver is to be generous towards others… how the gift is received is irrelevant! Generosity can only be itself when it is released into the hands of another and not when it acts as some kind of bargaining chip in our culture’s adoration of the Self!
I will be undergoing foot surgery in a week and unable to climb up on ladders or chairs for a few months so I figured it is time for me to put up my Christmas tree and the Parish decorations! The tree went up without a hitch but none of the yellow, orange or red lights worked on any of the strands of tree lights! Down the road I went to Walmart to buy a few strings of lights. When I was a kid we had small lights where each bulb twinkled independently of all the others. For years I have tried to find these lights without any success but I was still hopeful as I went into Walmart. Yes, there are lights that twinkle but always in unison with other lights… usually all of the same color. All of the red suddenly disappear and then come back with all the blue disappearing! There are options for the rate of twinkling and the manner in which this happens. I hit upon one setting that had the lights going on and off at such a rate as to induce epileptic seizures!
And so with all of this we now begin our annual month of frenzied anxiety… either over what gift to give, or how to react to a gift received, or where to obtain my longed-for tree lights! Thus begins our yearly month-long personal struggle for “Peace On Earth!”