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Permission To Give & Receive

I’m not much for talking about Christmas until after Thanksgiving. I enjoy taking time to savor every moment of Thanksgiving; knowing that it is a good practice to give thanks and gratitude year-round.

It’s so hard to not think about Christmas though. Costco started carrying Christmas décor as early as July. A local radio station has already started playing Christmas music non-stop and every day our email inboxes are flooded with “early black Friday deals.”

It begs the question what do we choose? Do we choose to be ever-so present in our Thanksgiving festivities or do we join in the hustle and bustle for the next FIVE weeks! The idea of the latter makes me super anxious and yet I love giving gifts.

Can we talk about gift-giving for a minute? Have you ever received a gift and thought, “this person doesn’t know me very well?” The gift-giver gave you something that they would want, or something that they thought you would want, not something you would want. I believe the gift-giver has good intentions AND notice what these statements have in common? Yes, so often giving is about the giver, not the recipient. I acknowledge that Christmas is not about “the gifts.” It’s about the love of Jesus Christ. Some of us attempt to show and share God’s love through gift-giving! What I’m about to share with you might be unpopular.

As a giver, I realize that I give because of the feeling that I get knowing and seeing that I gave. I try so hard to get something that I think the recipient would enjoy but let’s face it…how many of us “need” anything? How many of us have very specific taste in what we like, making all other items additions to the regifting box?

Last year when asked, “what do you want for Christmas,” I responded, “I do not need anything. If you must give something, I invite you to donate to one of my favorite non-profits.” I named three non-profits and received a few gifts in my honor, for which I’m truly thankful. For the giver, generally speaking, it’s just not as satisfying to give a monetary gift, a gift card, or an honorarium.

So, after using that line with one of my relatives this year, I wondered. What if I listed out things that I buy/use daily or weekly? What if I gave them the website address to the specific items/brands that I would enjoy? Would they appreciate having a list of items to choose from based on their budget and the associated websites? Would they have as much satisfaction of giving me a gift that they know I will use? And are the odds greater that the items will be used and enjoyed by me?


This year, I made a list and emailed it to two members of my family. The list included three categories of gifts: CONSUMABLES, COMMUNITY, AND GIFT CARDS/CERTIFICATES. I listed things in the consumables category items that related to my overall well-being. I listed three local non-profits and donation links. In the community category I listed a few locations that I frequent where gift cards/certificates would be appreciated.

This is an experiment. I can’t wait to share the outcome with you in January. Part of my growth this year is really being clear about what it is that I want, articulating out loud, and asking for help if it is needed. The things I want in and out of my life are reasonable and I’m done thinking that it’s selfish to speak my truths. I know this is difficult, especially for women because oftentimes we are told to make ourselves appear smaller, both physically and vocally.

My challenge to you this holiday season. Make a list. It can be short but write down at least three things that you really want or that you know you would use this coming year if you were to receive it as a gift. Give yourself permission to speak what it is that you want and be willing to receive it. If you want to share, reach out to me. I’d love to hear what’s on your list this year.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with presence and joy!

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