Honor the Giver by using the Gift

Dear Aunt Mildred. Thanks so much for the sweater with the very unique design. I wore it to a party last week and was the center of attention. It was so much fun. In future, I will keep your wonderful gift safe in my closet and think of you whenever I look at it.

We don’t always get what we want, but custom requires that we acknowledge gifts either in person or by a note of appreciation. The etiquette of thank you notes requires a few forms be followed. You should, for example, mention the gift by name to prove you actually opened the present even if you had doubts about the giver’s taste. You should also give evidence that you used the gift and the impact it had on your life.

If dear Aunt Mildred visits, you will make a point of wearing the gift in her presence. Remember what your mother said just after she boxed your ears. It’s the thought that counts. After all, battery-powered twinkle lights should be a part of everyone’s wardrobe.

It is, indeed, the thought that counts. It is that thought, not the giver’s taste in gifts, we acknowledge when we give thanks. That is why we dig out that monstrosity when Auntie M visits. We honor the giver by using the gift.

Our lives are gifts. Kind of a cosmic version of an ugly Christmas sweater. Not quite what we wanted, but a gift anyway.

“I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.” – Lily Tomlin

Like Auntie M’s gift, some of us tend to pack our lives carefully away in the dark recesses of our closets, ashamed to show something less than perfect to the world. In doing so, we fail to honor the Giver by not using the Gift. Remember, life is a verb best enacted in the full light of day.

Life is a gift, not just our mere existence but also the unique talents and insights that are ours alone. Too often we hide our talents, reasoning that we are not very good.

“Use what talent you possess: the woods would be silent if no birds sang except those who sang best.” — Henry Van Dyke

I play guitar. Badly. Very badly. People think I am being modest until they hear me play. They then realize there is no reason for me to ever pluck a string other than to tune the instrument and even then I am so tone deaf that I usually make things worse. But I play anyway. It brings me pleasure, plunks, thunks and awkward pauses all. It gives me insight into what we take for granted when we see professional musicians perform. I am grateful that I can make such a racket and take pleasure from it. I honor the Giver by using the Gift.

Have you given thanks for the gift of your life? Perhaps it is time to write a thank you note for your gift. Such a note can serve as a pocket-sized version of a philosophy of life. Are you using your gift or hiding it away? Are you enjoying life or chafing at what it is not, living in its voids instead of basking in its light? Is the world a better place for your presence?

Note that I am not making a religious statement here. You can address your gratitude to God, to Shai-Hulud (of Dune fame, not the punk band) or simply to the Infinite Chaos That Is.  Gratitude doesn’t require a target. Being aware of the magnitude of your gift is enough.

Dear Maker. Thanks so much for the life you gave me. I’ll admit I thought it a bit ill-fitting and awkward at first, but have recently become comfortable wearing it. It is perfect for my work in your garden, weeding out the bad things and planting good things in their place. I care for it as best as I can, but I fear it is going to eventually wear out from constant use. I hope you will understand. I enjoy it so much and I think of you every time I wear it.

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