When we had our Breath and Spirit retreat last weekend, we had a table of objects commonly seen in the season. The idea was that if someone was feeling some sadness or loss this the season, the sight of that object would help us remember that we are cared for, loved and part of something larger than ourselves.
On that table were several angels. When they were given to me, I probably did not value them as much as I do now. The giver was a woman of little financial means but of great life experience and she made a point of making some simple ornament every year. Now they are one of the “Christmas things” that my children and I look forward to seeing every year.
So many of us have had someone give a gift we weren’t sure we wanted. Perhaps it is a homemade something or something a little too garish for you to ever use. Perhaps the style is too cute or too somber. Perhaps it displays a sentiment you don’t think bears repeating. This is a common experience—most of us more than a few years old have had it.
What is interesting to me is how the mores around this of changed. With our emphasis on direct speaking and being clear with one another, we now feel free to tell someone that we do not want their gifts. And many more just ignore its giving. In this age when the market for things needed is saturated, we are increasingly sold the idea that we need to have everything we want and in the specific way we want them. The odd or quirky, homemade or homely gift becomes even more distasteful with this ethic. And maybe to our detriment.
So much is wrapped up in gift-giving in this season when people will come bearing gifts. Even if it is not a gift we appreciate at first, maybe we should take some time to think about the motivations and locations of the gift giver and to rest for a while in that experience. Or to talk to someone we know who might be having that experience because we might just be able to coach another on how to receive seemingly unwanted gifts. We cannot always know what will be of use to us in the future we cannot always know what will bring us joy in days that we cannot imagine. Let us enter into this season ready to receive with gratitude whatever gifts are given, be they physical ones are gifts of the spirit. May the angels of possibility visit you and yours.