It’s in the giving

by tamarjacobson

Caring A few days after Thanksgiving I had such fun reading The Joy of Six. It brought back memories of a post I wrote last December. These past few days, being out and about running errands and seeing the latest James Bond movie, I enjoyed the holiday feeling that was already stirring in the stores, malls and decorated streets. And as I commented at Joy’s post: "Why not spread joy around … the sooner the better."

Oh I know some people really do not enjoy the rush of consumerism that accompanies the season of good will and giving; the frenzied hysteria of shopping, shopping, shopping … but I have to say that the little tamarika inside me becomes very excited to see twinkling lights and decorated trees. I love the angels and stars, Santas and glitter. I feel as if I am inside a huge, exciting movie and the hum-drum, routine of life is put on hold, even lit up for awhile.

I enjoy thinking about what I would like to give to whom. I have always loved giving gifts to people. I know, I know, it is definitely connected to my sickness of trying to please everyone so that they will love me. But, it mostly has to do with giving others pleasure. I take pride in choosing the very best, most suitable present, matching it with their personality, wants, needs … their secret desires. I get such a kick out of getting it right! I enjoy sharing their satisfaction and delight. Somehow I just feel a whole lot warmer inside. There have been phases in my life when I have gone completely overboard with giving gifts, and I have had to experience a few hard knocks to temper my enthusiasm over the years. However, I think that this is one area where I could never become a cynic, no matter what happens to me! The inner child, idealism and pleasure about giving is just way too strong.

And yet I realize that the act of giving is complex for me. For example, I know that for many years I wanted (and tried) to give my son everything and anything to compensate for my messed-up life, failure as a mother, all those marriages, and for him having to endure my troubled, troubled soul. It just did not turn out the way I had dreamed or wanted for him. How fortunate I have been though, because he constantly teaches me, in the kindest, gentlest ways, that just being together is enough for him. He makes me battle to give him money. He shows me that he wants to do for himself and is capable and competent, and helps me let go of my guilt and shame.

There are those times I gave too much, later realizing that I just so wanted people to love and accept me. And then was filled with shame for being so pathetic. I once had a very wise therapist, Ziva, who helped me understand this sorry side of myself. She warned me not to give so much away. She said, "Keep some for yourself until you can trust the other to understand." As right as she was, it is still one of my most difficult struggles. For, giving myself away is not only with presents, it is in the sharing of too much emotion with the wrong people. Those who are incapable of understanding my expression or self-exposure as a gift of myself. I seem to hold onto a naive hope that if I share myself honestly with others, they will do so in return.

I love to receive gifts. Always have! Each time someone gives me something I immediately become excited and grateful. I can never get over the feeling that I am undeserving because somehow I am so bad or such a failure. And so, when I receive a gift, greeting card, kind words, a positive evaluation at work, when someone listens and validates me, and, even, a comment on my blog, it is always a surprise for me. I almost feel like jumping up and down clapping my hands in glee. And then there is … well, yes, a sense of relief that accompanies the receiving. I have to admit it. Relief that I am all right, at that moment, worthy of another’s attention, interest, or kindness. I am even ashamed to say that at those times I weep … with gratitude and relief.

Indeed, I never take gifts for granted. I keep each and every one. In boxes, on shelves, in my brain and heart. I am capable of remembering the simplest act of kindness towards me forever!

And so, as we enter the season preparing to travel out West to see Tom’s wonderful family, lists are being sent back and forth, via Amazon, e-mail, secretive proddings of one another about each other, and excitement mounts. By the time we all arise early Christmas morning, I imagine Jared, Makaila, Madeline (young nieces and nephew) and I will all be equally excited as we stare at the huge mountain of beautifully wrapped thoughtfulness laying under the tree.

A year ago at Tamarika: One for the bone chewers