Isn’t it strange that giving sometimes comes with guilt?
Guilt does not seem worthy of Christmas. The two do not mix, or should not mix, but somehow over the years we went from accepting the greatest gift of all, a savior in the form a baby, to stressing over the gifts we give, the gifts we want to give, and the gifts we will give – so help us God and our credit cards.
Every Christmas I make a batch of the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls. If you know anything about the Pioneer Woman’s recipes, you will already understand that the calorie content constitutes buying new pants in a bigger size and putting them on before you eat.
This particular recipe also makes enough food to feed an entire army, my family, and all my neighbors. Ok, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration. It all depends on how big your army is; however, we can only eat so many cinnamon rolls, so I “gift” the rest to my neighbors.
I want these sugary treats to be no strings attached. I already feel guilty about sending their sugar and cholesterol counts off the charts, I don’t want to feel guilt about them reciprocating.
I bake my twenty pans of cinnamon and sugar, keep two for ourselves, and send the kids onto the street to pass the rest around. I don’t want those other pans of rolls. They mean strict diets for my future and I like to eat. People are doing me a favor by taking my leftovers, and yet some feel guilt. They run to the nearest drugstore and buy me a box of cream filled chocolates and gift me guilt upon guilt.
When did this happen? When did it not become right and good to share with our neighbors, no expectations, no strings attached?
Did Dear Abbey tell us never to return an empty plate?
I gift with throw-away plates and still others feel they must return, pay-back a gift. It seems so silly. It makes me not want to give out of fear. I become a burden when I just want to be a blessing.
The reality of life is that some years I have more money than others. Some years I see the perfect present for the perfect person. It’s the perfect gift. I want to give it and I do, but other years, it does not matter if I find the perfect present or not, there’s no cash to buy it. So I do not give it.
Gift giving isn’t about a list of “to do’s” or guilt or shame. It’s about love and sharing and opening our homes and hearts to those around us. Sometimes that love comes neatly wrapped in a box and sometimes it comes covered in sugar and butter. Some years it looks more like a phone call and a hug.
There shouldn’t be any guilt in giving.
Maybe we shouldn’t treat others as a check list. You did for me, so I must do for you. Perhaps this year we can accept a gift and say thank you and just simply enjoy it.
Returning an empty plate isn’t the unpardonable sin. I bet your neighbor just wants her plate back. Empty. I suspect she’ll be happy that you enjoyed her cookies, or cake, or fudge. I doubt she wants to be compensated for her sharing.
Will you take a pledge with me?
Let’s pledge to have a guilt free Christmas, to give and receive without expectation or duty. Allow someone to bless you. That’s what Christmas is all about. We received the greatest gift of all – a savior in the form a baby. Now we give to share the gift, His love.
I am going to enjoy a guilt free Christmas, gifts or no gifts. How about you?