Birthdays are full of gift giving, but sometimes we forget to actually receive the gifts.
I suck at receiving.
Giving comes naturally. Receiving makes me feel uncomfortable.
I've been known to say thank you for a gift and as I'm thanking the person I'm already thinking about who needs or wants this gift.
Some people might say, "How generous. How kind. How thoughtful."
But it isn't any of those to me or to the giver.
I'm learning not to skip over the actual receiving part.
I think I have skipped over receiving because somewhere deep inside, I didn't feel worthy of those earrings or that gift card or those flowers. When you're hungry for love for too long, you can get too comfortable with the hunger and not know what to do when food comes your way.
Yesterday I turned 58. For my birthday, I got dozens of calls, texts, emails, Facebook greetings and many lovely gifts. As part of my Mothering Me quest, I paused to actually receive the gifts. To soak up the voicemails. To savor the words each person wrote. To embrace the physical gifts I opened. To open not just the package, but to open my heart and receive what was inside.
My husband bought me a backyard swing. Our oldest son took hours putting it together. I was so tempted to help put it together, but didn't. This is their gift to you. Let them give it, I told myself. Then I stretched out on it for hours and napped and savored their work and love.
My brother-in-law, Gary, sent me a box. In the past, I would have mindlessly ripped open the box right away while opening bills and other mail. This time, I saved the box to open on my birthday. Then I sat on the swing, thought of Gary, and opened it. On the top of a lovely box of stationery he had put my favorite photo of my grandbabies and these words: Regina's Loves. It took my breath away. He also sent a delicate enamel hinged box from Bilstone and Battersea.
My grandson, Asher, is only 5 but he saved a dollar and some coins. "I am going to buy you an ice cream cone on your birthday," he told me. He brought a blue gift bag with the money at the bottom to Ben & Jerry's. I was so tempted to tell him to keep the money or to slip more money in his bag, but I allowed him to experience the joy of being generous and thoughtful. That cone was the best ever. I savored every lick. And he beamed as I did.
My sister, Mary, sent a lovely bouquet of flowers and the sweetest note attached. I read the note twice. I inhaled the roses. I caressed the daisy petals. I hugged the whole bouquet and buried my face in it as it were a pillow.
Oh, to receive.