Category Archives: General

Give What the Recipient Wants

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a gift

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.

The Most Valuable Gift

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A gift’s value isn’t always measured by how much it cost, but by how much it was treasured by the giver. The timing of a gift can also be of value. Gift-giving shouldn’t be reserved for holidays and birthdays; instead, we can give gifts every day, whether it’s something purchased, or something intangible like sage advice. There are opportunities to give valuable gifts all the time, you just have to be mindful and aware in the moment.

There is a passage in the bible that describes how the value of a gift can vary, despite it’s ‘cost’. In the case of the bible passage, it was an offering that was the gift. There was a wealthy man who gave much and often out of his abundant surplus, and bragged about it to everyone who would listen. In comparison with his vast wealth, his gift was quite small, and it had no bearing on the state of his wealth. He was still wealthy after making his offerings. In comparison, there was an old poor widow who offered two copper coins (pennies, basically), but it was all that she had. Her gift was of more significance because it was more valuable to her than the wealth man’s gift was to him.

I’m also reminded of a gift that a friend of mine gave when we were in high school. He had bought a unique old bicycle frame from a junkyard, and carefully restored it, working on it for weeks. He had sanded it down, removed all the rust, had parts re-welded. He put it all back together with cool new tires, pads, decals and handle bars. It was even ‘tricked out’ with special pedals. It was painted his favorite color, metal flake orange, with black and white checkered pads. It was beautiful. I was amazed at what he had accomplished. It took a lot of work and some money, but it was exactly the bike he had always wanted. One day I was at his house and noticed that the bike was gone. I asked him where it had gone. He had given it away.

It was around Christmas, and he was working at the toy store after school. He was stocking the shelves, when he overheard a boy and his mother on the next aisle. He had asked if he could come into the store just to look, and his mother had begrudgingly agreed, knowing that she couldn’t buy him anything. He asked meekly if he could have a bike for Christmas. She told him that it would have to be next year, and that he already knew that. He could hear the quivering in her voice, and that she was holding back tears for not being able to give her child the kind of Christmases she had known. The boy didn’t fuss, but my friend could hear his stifled whimpering. The boy didn’t want to upset his mother.

So my friend decided to take action and give a gift that would change this little boy’s Christmas. He waited until the boy was busy watching some RC cars being demonstrated, and then approached the mother, telling her that he had a bike that he was going to get rid of anyway, and would she like to give it to her son for Christmas. She nearly burst out crying, and had to go to another aisle to prevent her son from seeing her joyous delight. She thanked him profusely and made arrangements for her to come back the next day to pick it up when her son wasn’t with her.

A couple of weeks after Christmas, the boy and his mother came back to the toy store. The boy ran in and wrapped his arms around my friend and wouldn’t let go. After Christmas, the mother had told her son where the bike had come from, and he insisted that he be able to come back and thank my friend. Now it was my friends turn to cry. He was so overcome by the little boy’s appreciation that he couldn’t hold back.

He recounted to me that that was the best gift he had ever received. “What are you talking about?, You gave the the gift, not received it”, I said. He nodded his head with a smile and said “Exactly.”