Even If You Love It, Let It Go

People. We’re such control freaks. When you give someone a gift—especially if it’s something you consider valuable or important—it’s so tempting to think you know best how they should take care of it. Maybe you do, but here’s the thing: When you give something away, you relinquish all rights to it. All. Rights. If your gift has strings, it’s not a gift, it’s a leash. Giving someone a gift and then trying to control how they use it puts you on the fast-track to relationship issues. (Parents tend to be particularly adept at this little power play.) This kind of attitude will lead to resentment and bad feelings. Is the illusion of control worth losing a relationship over?

The Gift of Receiving

Sometimes the best gift you can give is allowing someone to give to you. This can be difficult for some people, especially the proud, independent types among us. But not accepting a gift—and here I’m talking about a true gift, one that comes from the heart with no strings attached—is denying the other person the right to give. Jesus said it’s better to give than to receive, so isn’t refusing to accept a gift the equivalent of hoarding the better option for yourself? If you know how good it feels to give something to someone you love, why would you stand in the way of allowing that person the same good feeling? 

One more thing about receiving a gift: even if you hate it, be appreciative. It could be the most awful whatever ever, but the other person went to the time and trouble to select (and possibly wrap) it for you. They thought enough of you to give you something. Be grateful. Some people don’t have anyone who can be bothered to get them anything. 

Please and Thank You

I’m no Emily Post but I do think some sort of acknowledgment is called for, especially if the gift was not hand-delivered. It’s so awkward not knowing if a gift got lost in the mail. Hand-written notes may be old-fashioned, but they are awfully nice to receive. Sometimes email or a phone call is appropriate. If you truly despise whatever it was you don’t have to lie and say you love it; just thank them for the gift. There are tons of examples online; find one that works for you and copy it. On the other hand, if you don’t receive a thank you note from someone you gifted, please offer a little grace. Consider it part of your gift.


The best gifts are often things that can’t be wrapped. Good times make great memories and truly are a gift that keeps on giving, every time you look back on the experience. So make your list, check it twice, and enjoy this gift-giving season!


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Susan Ellingburg is a natural-born Texan who sings at every opportunity, reads as much as possible, and cherishes every day she gets to spend with friends. She's a serious foodie and not-so-serious gardener who is determined not to let being single stand in the way of living an amazing life. Read Susan's blog at TastingGod.wordpress.com.

Publication date: October 16, 2012