Each Christmas my family does a gift exchange. This, however, is not your normal gift exchange.
Five years ago, we decided to make our own gifts. And, to top it off, the gift has to be applicable to anyone.
With this in mind, I perused the local thrift stores in search of tweed suits. I had decided to make a wool quilt from recycled suit jackets and needed to find enough wool in shades of grey, blue, and brown to make a good size quilt.
As I gathered, washed, cut, tore, and sewed the pieces of wool together into a uniquely warm and lovely quilt, I thought to myself, “Maybe I should keep this quilt for myself. I could make something else and no one would ever know.”
I said as much to Michael. He gently reminded me that giving it away would be more fulfilling than keeping it.
I was skeptical, but I quickly chirped, “Yeah, your right.”
Today, my family did our gift exchange. We do it pollyanna style where each gift can be stolen three times until whoever has it, gets to keep it. My wool tweed quilt had been opened and, after what felt like an appropriate amount of oohs and aahs to stroke my self-esteem, something unexpected happened to me.
The gift I had chosen, meticulously dried and flavored turkey jerky, was suddenly stolen! I was in an unexpected position. I realized with apprehension I had the choice to steal the gift I had made, the tweed blanket. And, even more tempting, it would be the third steal and I could keep it.
It would be mine!
I looked around the room. Everyone waited in hushed or, OK, not so hushed, anticipation. There were hours and hours of love and inspiration poured into each gift and, as I looked around, my eyes kept landing on my quilt.
I felt the corners of my eyes crinkle in hesitation as I quietly considered.
I pictured myself curled peacefully on the couch wrapped in my warm, wool blanket. I envisioned guests arriving and complimenting my creativity and style. I pictured them wanting a wool, tweed quilt of their own. I also dreamed of handing it down to my children as a treasured family heirloom.
Strange how strong the voices become when you think you need or want something.
Then, it happened. I said the words, “I’ll take the… wooden candlesticks!”
As the word “candlesticks” came out of my mouth, peace overtook my body. Joy and pleasure washed over my face as I looked at the wonderfully created gift in my hands. Hand carved, wooden candlesticks!
I resisted my desire to take and was able to throughly enjoy the gift I was given.
Battling the desire to take
I feel the pull I described above every day. It says, take, keep, stash, stow away my things, my stuff, my treasures. “My precious” as Tolkien called it in “Lord of the Rings.”
Take. Keep. Take. More. Need. Take.
Today, I broke the power of take and instead, I gave and I received.
And, oddly enough, I didn’t care. I thought it would be hard. I thought I would look longingly at my quilt in someone else’s arms and want it for myself. But, it turned out to be the opposite.
As I intentionally decided to give, my momentary obsession with taking the tweed quilt was broken, and glorious pleasure filled my heart.
What joy is found there, the place of giving. What riches and pleasure.
Today a lesson was confirmed within my heart. It truly is better to give than to receive.