Being a Graceful Receiver: It’s More Than a “Thank You”

May 21, 2012

Giving a gift makes you feel good inside. You do it because you want to. And because you want to make the other person happy.

Receiving a gift can be great joy. If it’s something you’ve wanted for awhile, the elation you feel can last for days.

But there are times when receiving a gift can be a painful event. The simple act of accepting that gift can cause more grief than is intended.

I have been on the painful side of gifts a number of times over the past couple of years. I have accepted gifts that I did not want to accept. I didn’t want to accept them because I didn’t want to accept that I (at times) NEEDED to accept them.

I didn’t want to accept them because it was further proof that I wasn’t able to purchase the items myself.

In March of 2010, when I found myself without a car, unemployed, living with my mom, existing on less than $500 a month to cover all expenses and bill payments. That situation left me without the ability to buy things that my children needed, like snow boots, new clothes and even presents on their birthdays. I started this blog to show people that debt can take over your life and I wanted people to do what they needed to do to avoid debt. I wanted to be a face to what uncontrolled spending could look like. I was lucky to have a home to sleep in at night but there were times, as my relationship with my mother became strained when that wasn’t even a given.

This blog has brought people to me who were able to help out at times when I needed them (sometimes when I didn’t even know that I did). Numerous people have helped me out along the way with gifts for my children, gifts for me, items of necessity, monetary gifts and even a donation to get blood work for my cat when he was very, very sick. Each one of these gifts made a difference in my life.

And each time that this has happened, I have shed tears as I’ve felt my pride slip away bit by bit.

I’ve accepted them because they helped out when I needed them, even if I didn’t want to admit it. And I’ve kept note of all the wonderful things people have done for me and the boys so that I may one day pay it forward to another person. It may seem silly but I look forward to the day when I can pay for someone’s groceries just because the money won’t be a big deal to me.

I’ve recently been tested on the gift receiving area and finding my ability to gracefully accept has been hard.

A number of months ago I was offered a unique and amazing opportunity. A friend has made it possible for me to go on a cruise. A 5 day cruise with my favorite band, New Kids on the Block. (I heard you giggling at me just now.) I spent months telling her that I couldn’t accept a gift like this, that it was just too much. While I really wanted to go, I felt that it was just too much of a gift to accept.

She spent those same months responding with comments like “I WANT to do this.” “You deserve a little bit of fun.” and “Shut up and just accept it.” Well maybe not the third but another friend of mine said that to me when I went to her for advice. I struggled with accepting the gift because there are so many other things I have on my list of priorities that need to be addressed. A vacation was simply not on my list of priorities.

However, a vacation was being offered to me and if I didn’t accept, someone else was going to go in my place. This particular friend is a bit of a Fairy Godmother. She’s making it possible for three people to go on this cruise and it’s not the first time she has done it either. After asking her numerous questions to make sure she wasn’t incurring debt (I AM a personal finance blogger after all!) and inquiring about what would happen if I didn’t go, it came down to one thing. I can accept the gift and go have fun for 5 days or I can turn it down and someone else would go in my place.

About two months ago, I finally said “yes.” And in a little over 2 weeks, I will be flying to Miami, FL to set sail with New Kids on the Block and 2,000 other women (and a handful of men).

I tell you this because I have learned a lot about accepting gifts over the past 2+ years. I have learned that the giver feels just as much happiness as the receiver when an honest gift is given. And in this world, there just isn’t enough honest and true gift giving going on.

So I say “thank you” to each and every person who has helped me out along the way. Whether you came as a saving grace at a very low moment, or you offered up something that could make me smile for awhile or you gave me the gift of a vacation, I want you to know that your gift has stayed and always will say in my heart and in my soul. I will carry it with me as I move along in this life and one day I will look at someone who needs a bit of help and I will tell them that someone once helped me out and I’m just returning the favor.



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10 Responses to Being a Graceful Receiver: It’s More Than a “Thank You”

  1. John @ Married (with Debt) on May 21, 2012 at 10:14 am

    It can be tough to accept gifts. We have some friends who are very well off, like millionaire well off, and it took a while to think that a $100 gift from them is like me getting them a $10 gift. It’s about perspective. It does make you feel strange though. Enjoy your much deserved vacation!
    John @ Married (with Debt) recently posted..Real Men Use a Reel Mower


  2. Amy
    on May 21, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I am so thrilled for you. I think fretting over whether or not to accept a gift is a sign of humility. Acceptance also allows people to be of service/ministry/goodwill, which is your gift in return.
    Amy recently posted..Things that come to mind when you are wearing Taco Bell


  3. ImpulseSave on May 21, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I know how it feels to have to be on the receiving end too often. It can be difficult because you want to do something in return, but you can’t always do that, and you feel like you owe them something. But I think you are doing the right thing going on this trip – sometimes the gifts of others are exactly what we need to get through the toughest stuff in life. And being able to accept it is just as important as being able to give it.


  4. Sara Broers on May 21, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Have a blast! You, girlfriend deserve this, and I do mean that! You have worked hard to get where you are. And your blogging, my gosh, you have taken it to new heights, which is so much fun to watch!


  5. Jai Catalano on May 21, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    My mom used to make me say no to gifts. As an adult I have a hard time saying yes. Lately I force myself to accept because it’s what I should do when someone goes out of their way for me. It’s really tough though.


  6. Lucy on May 23, 2012 at 9:57 am

    It can be really difficult to accept gifts of any kind. It’s almost as if we’re programmed with the need to reciprocate, and feel uncomfortable or even ashamed when we are unable to do so.

    If people want to give, let them they wouldn’t offer if they didn’t want to. Enjoy yourself!!
    Lucy recently posted..The Background Checks Site


  7. Donation Can on May 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Great post! Someone gave me a basket of food for Thanksgiving 2 years ago. I didn’t really “need” the food but the thought that someone thought of me, just made me cry.


  8. Christa on May 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    NKOTB!! (cue shriek of adolescent puppy love). Have fun! I hope you can pay it forward soon, but for now, it’s wonderful to accept the gift and thank your friend. I’m sure she knows you’ll get her a cruise to see Jeremy Jordan (my true love in dreamy adolescent singers…) when you’re able to pay it forward. Jealously happy for you!



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