I admit it, I'm not always the best at showing gratitude.  I never know what is the proper way to say 'thank you' for a specific kindness.   But I try.  I make small adjustments, send a note, make a desert, a meal or simply smile, nod and say my 'thanks'.

When I was little, our family had a strict rule in regards to gift giving.  No matter the gift, no matter if you already have it, or if you don't like it, you smile, you say 'thank you' and you take the time to appreciate the person who gave that gift.  That person thought of you.  Went to a store for you.  Picked something out.  Paid for it, with their own hard earned cash for you.  Perhaps they actually hand-crafted it, spending their time and talent on you.  They wrapped it.  Perhaps tied a bow on it, and then presented it to you....all the while, hoping that they captured something that might delight you.

The thought always counts more doesn't it?

That's what I was always taught.  Be grateful.  That person didn't have to get you anything, but they did.  Be grateful for whatever it happens to be.

We have sought to teach our children that same kind of gratitude.  No matter the gift, say your thanks, be happy and appreciate the person who thought of you, through appreciation of that gift.

As of late, I have received birthday invitations from my kids' friends, and most times, there is a little note included that states that the child has actually registered at a toy store, picked out what they want, and it's been set aside for purchase as a birthday gift.

Hummmmm.  I'm struggling with this one.

Doesn't that miss the point, of actually spending the time contemplating what that birthday child might like?  And if the gift giver doesn't know the child well, then perhaps a quick call to the parent would help in the discernment process.

I know registries are a step in the bridal and baby shower process.  I get that.  I did register myself back in the day, but I tell you, it always felt weird, in essence to be telling my guests, friends or family what to buy for me......as if I wouldn't be happy with their personal choice of gift, I want this particular brand, color, size, quality etc.

I resolved my uneasiness with the issue back in the day, by telling myself, what I choose on a registry can send a message to those looking up my registry.  I can communicate to them, do I have simple tastes, or extravagant.  Do I need the basics or do I already have them, and just need the fun stuff.  Weddings and babies are major life milestones, and relatives who may not know me well, will want to send their love.  I get that.

But birthdays, I am having issue with.....

I simply can't bring myself to go to a toy store registry and purchase a birthday gift for one of my children's friends.  I guess, I simply think that it teaches the wrong message to my children.  I think kids need to learn gratitude, simplicity and appreciation for people over things.

As a parent, I know my children.  If I ever have doubt what to purchase for them, I ask them their opinion, and sometimes, they get what they desire.  Sometimes they don't.  That's life, folks.  And in the grand scheme of things, they should be feel grateful not feel entitled.

You aren't entitled to it.  You can't expect it.  If someone is kind enough to want to purchase a gift for you, and does it, then it's a blessing, and gratitude should follow.

Okay, so that's my rant.  Gift registries for children's birthday gifts are probably a store's way to get more customers, or an easy way to get something checked off the to-do list.  There's no thought involved, and I am determined to teach my children that each person is unique, special, and they need to spend time on them, if they really care about them.

I guess, it's about allowing the gift giver to put herself into the gift.  Registering for toys takes the gift giver out of the process.  It tells them, I don't want what you think I'd like.  I want what I want, and you can get THAT for me.

Gift giving and receiving can be a truly dynamic aspect in a relationship.  Free from expectations, it can, in one fall swoop, tell each other, I accept you, I give you this gift from my heart to yours. AND I accept this gift from your heart to mine.  Putting conditions on a sincere desire to show love, just doesn't seem like love anymore, does it?

Copyright 2011 Sahmatwork