Our youngest daughter can be stubborn about receiving gifts, and I told her so.
She took it well.
“Where do you think I get it from?” she asked.
“I’m not stubborn when it comes to receiving gifts,” I said. “I used to be, but not now. I’m gracious.”
“And you’re humble!” she cackled.
“Right. I’m gracious and humble when someone gives me a gift. Thanks for pointing that out.”
She has a birthday coming up, and we want to get her new boots, cowboy boots. All the females in our family have cowboy boots. We consider them a staple — like chocolate.
She is married, has little ones and, like many young mothers, focuses the bulk of her time and exhaustion on others.
Boots are not cheap, but we wanted to do something special, get her something she could use and enjoy for some years to come. But she’s pushing back, drawing a line in the sand — with old and worn-looking boots, I might add.
I pushed back, she pushed back, and we are locked in a mother-daughter wrestling match over stubbornness, receiving gifts with grace and how much is too much to spend on a special gift.
She thinks we do too much. I used to think the same thing about my parents. My parents weren’t extravagant people whose giving knew no restraint, but they were generous.
They kept saying they enjoyed giving, but I couldn’t hear because I was focused on money evaporating into the clouds.
Years ago, I mentioned to a friend that I thought my mother overdid when it came to gifts for our children.
My friend, closer to my mother’s age than mine, looked at me with indignation and said, “Who are you to tell your mother what she can do?”
I wanted to argue with her, but I didn’t. I knew it was one of those moments to file in my memory bank. I didn’t fully understand it then, but I understand it now — now that I’m a grandmother myself and older.
The longer you live, the more you see how very often things go wrong. Marriages crumble, friendships are torn, family members become estranged and accidents and disease tragically cut lives short. There is a brokenness that permeates much of life.
So, when you see life going well, families working hard and growing strong and children thriving, you want to celebrate.
You want to stand on a chair and cheer.
You want to applaud.
You want to buy boots.
It took the seasoning of time to help me understand that giving is an expression of joy as much as it is an expression of love. I understand where my daughter is coming from, but I also understand where my parents were coming from — a place of pure and simple joy celebrating those moments when life goes well.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.