Oh, the joys of gift giving and receiving

Most people are lucky enough to receive gifts on at least two occasions each year. Most people in this area will celebrate Christmas and a birthday. Those even luckier might celebrate an anniversary and other special events.

But the luckiest people aren’t those receiving the gifts. The lucky ones are those doing the giving. And that can happen a lot – even every day if you try hard enough.

Youngsters may not agree, but it feels a whole lot better giving that receiving.

The formative years were the toughest for Debbie and me, trying to make sure we gave our sons enough, but not too much. And also doing our best to make sure each received an equal amount, whether it was in the number of presents or total value.

I’ll admit we may have gone overboard in that area. We wanted them to have what they wanted, but didn’t want them to think they would get whatever they wished for. And when they were younger, it wasn’t a dollar value they compared against each other, it was total volume.

Now they’re grown and have taken it to another level.

With only a few minor exceptions, for years Debbie and I could revel at fine shoppers we were, selecting just the right things, and just the right quantity. We could sit back on those birthdays and Christmas and enjoy the beaming faces of our young ones. All that shopping, punching and elbowing (just between the two of us), had proved worthwhile.

I actually didn’t really come to totally realize the pleasure in giving versus receiving until this year.

Debbie and I have set spending limits for years, but just like speed limits, they tend to get stretched just a little beyond their bounds.

This year at Christmas we had recently purchased a new television, so we said there would be no purchasing of big gifts. Some new underwear or other inexpensive practical gifts would suffice. The television would be our gift to each other. As far as the boys, they’ve taken a liking to clothes and other gifts that are practical as well.

The other funny thing we try to do is make sure neither of us spends more or less than the other, like it really matters.

So Debbie and I lived up to our end of the bargain. The boys, on the other hand, went a little overboard on me.

The gifts they got me, and Debbie, were a bit over the top for cash-strapped college guys. It made me uncomfortable, at first, as I realized what they had done. But they were so excited, and I could see how the gifts they were receiving for giving meant much more than anything we could have bought them. They thoroughly enjoyed watching the joy on my face.

Our roles had reversed.

It struck me again just this past weekend when Debbie and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary. Since we were both busy and had other activities (and after all it was the 29th time we’d done it) our celebration was relatively quiet. I do have to admit, though, that Debbie cooked me a great supper, something she said she enjoyed doing as much as I enjoyed eating. I hope she meant that.

We exchanged cards Sunday morning, each card containing a gift certificate. I purchased two tickets for us to attend a magic and illusion show at ISU this weekend. She purchased credit for me to buy some electronic books.

The total cost was about the same, although I felt good because I had spent just a little more on her that she had on me (I’m really not counting).

So all was good until my eyes started drooping and cozying up in bed was really sounding good. Then she brought me in another present, another gift certificate so I could frame a special autographed football jersey the boys had bought me for Christmas.

She’d done it again. And it was a really good present. I really appreciated it.

I just hope she enjoyed the giving part as much as I enjoyed the receiving.

Next time it’s my turn.

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