When I was a little girl I loved presents. It was the element of surprise. The wrapping paper. The bow in my favorite color. The note attached with string, We love you. “Mom and Dad”. I would open the box and squeal with delight, “Oh, I wanted this so much!” While growing up, I didn’t get a lot of gifts. My mom had nine brothers and sisters, they each had three kids, so we all just received love. My dad’s mom sent money. I would go out and buy myself a surprise. In my immediate family, I felt unconditional love. A gift was given and there was never anything expected in return. I always felt my parents experienced joy in seeing me happy, and that gift was a gift in of itself.
Today a friend denied my gift to her. My heart broke a little. Receiving can be often more difficult than giving. My friend had just experienced a loss, and loss is something I am all to familiar with. When this happens to friends of mine, I buy them a tree or special shrub that blooms during the time of the sad event. My hope is that every year the blooms will remind them of their loved one and eventually bring a smile. I try to find the perfect specimen for the area in which they live and what I feel is the essence of my friend.
My first thought was a lemon tree for a patio. I was worried about the shipping. I also prefer something planted. There is something about roots. Love cannot grow without roots. So I talked to multiple nurseries in her area about native plants. I decided on a Butterfly Bush. They grow almost nine feet. The bloom is magnificent, a blush lavender that lures bees and butterflies. I decided it was the perfect message that I wanted to express. I found a well respected nursery in her area that had just the one I envisioned. There was also a nursery in Nebraska that would ship. I left her a note when my plans were complete. I told her my plans and asked if she preferred local or shipped. She did not want the gift.
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart.”-Brene Brown
For me gifting is an art. It is thoughtful and intentional. I would never call a florist and send out a bouquet in which I had not selected every single flower. Gifting is an opportunity to tell people how much we appreciate them. Sometimes, life becomes overwhelming and we forget to tell people how important they are. I have missed a few times I should have acknowledged a friend’s heartbreak or joy, and I have many regrets. Life is hard, we cannot do it alone. If there is a reason we exist, it is to love people.
“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” — Vincent Van Gogh
I have no reason why she refused the gift. We can never have too much joy. I think we all need to be more open to kindness. There is nothing better than the unconditional sharing of happiness. So when someone offers you a gift, smile, let your eyes light up and say “You made my day.” That is the reason for giving, to create happiness. Open your heart and say “Yes”.
“Gracious acceptance is an art — an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving…. Accepting another person’s gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you.” — Alexander McCall Smith
Art- Fig 2a: A 1906 illustration of B. variabilis var. Magnifica (B. davidii), the cultivar or variety used by Van De Weyer in his hybridisation.