December is here and that means Christmas gifts. Gift giving is a double edged sword. When a gift is given that is a delightful surprise or a longed for treasure, all is well. The giver is happy, the recipient is thrilled, the tree seems to be bigger and brighter. But when the gift that was desired does not appear, the tree is somehow not as pretty and spirits are dampened. A cloud hangs over the festive atmosphere of Christmas Day. And, of course, the disappointment of the missing gift is not limited to children, mom & dad can know this ache as well. Not getting the gift that is wanted can happen for several reasons. The budget dictates trips to Walmart instead of the mall. Usually this kind of disappointment can be addressed with a loving dose of reality given well in advance of Christmas Day. Sometimes, the giver is simply unaware of what is going on inside the person to whom he is giving the gift. A little more sensitivity and careful listening would help here.
However, there is another reason for disappointment that must not be missed. It is the problem of unrealistic expectations driven by selfishness or its equally destructive sibling, self-pity. This kind of disappointment cannot be solved by sensitivity or a dose of reality. In this case the gift that was given is not enough. There is no gratitude shown for gifts that are given. There is no joy at seeing others receive gifts. This is a serious problem.
[Read the rest of the article at Shepherd Press.]