I have a friend who owns a day spa and nail salon. She’s been in the manicure industry for nearly 20 years, and has made many interesting commentaries on society based on her experiences serving others as a spa worker/manicurist during those two decades. She is a good listener who has heard it all over the years, and is known for her insights into human nature. I’m sure it’s one of the keys to her success.
During an evening at her house, we were talking about charity, gifts and gift-giving. She has been doing charity work at nursing homes for years, painting the nails of dozens of old folks every couple of weeks. She’s seen many of them come and go, but she always shows up to service those who appreciate it the most. Now that I think about it, maybe it’s there that she has gathered so much of her wisdom.
She explained to me that the greatest gift is to be able to give the most precious gift to another. If you can know exactly what someone wants or needs, or would be most dear to their heart, then to be able to give that gift is the most precious gift one can experience. Being able to give is the gift. The second greatest gift is to be the recipient of that gift. When you receive a gift, and it is exactly what your heart has been yearning for, it is the most special feeling in the world, because not only did you get what you wanted, but there is another human out there that knew exactly what you desired and was able to provide it to you. Your heart is warmed to the point of speechlessness or total loss of composure.
On the giving end of the transaction, the giver gets to experience such gratitude that often, the giver will also lose composure, both the giver and recipient crying desperately in each others’ arms. It’s quite a spectacle to observe.
My friend had seen many, many women come to her salon beaming with pride and a gift certificate that had been given by a husband or boyfriend. They were so gracious and impressed that their significant other was so in tune with what she really wanted as a gift, be it a birthday gift or a ‘just because’ gift. Sometimes, the gift’s value wasn’t very much, but the fact that they had received what they wanted was more valuable than the gift certificate itself.
So many gifts are motivated by what the giver wants, or what the giver wants the recipient to have, but is that really giving? Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient and maybe you’ll be able to decipher what he/she really hopes to get.