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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

If you do something for someone else make sure it’s for the right reasons.

I spoke to a woman in therapy who is annoyed with her mother. She says her mother volunteers to do things for her church group, such as prepare a meal or drive someone to the doctor’s. Then her mother complains about everything she does for others and that they don’t appreciate it.

I asked the woman why she thought her mother complained about being a good samaritan.

“Because she wants a pat on the back for everything she does,” she said. But, she added, “I don’t want to give her a pat on the back. Instead I’d like to slap her for her complaining.”

I told the woman I thought a slap was a bit drastic, to which she agreed.

It is a curious thing, however, that people volunteer to take care of others or jump in and take responsibility and then become irritated because they have so much to do. Or they feel mistreated because they don’t get the recognition they think they deserve.

This phenomenon is especially prevalent at Christmastime. A woman shops like mad for her family and all her relatives. Although shopping is work, she mostly enjoys the hustle and bustle of the mall. Each time she picks out a present, she gives herself a pat on the back: “What a good gift-giver am I.”

Sometimes she shows off her purchases to relatives and friends. But if the people she has shopped for are not as grateful as she thinks they should be, she’s miffed.

Now she moves into a victim mode and gets to fret and criticize and think, “After all I do for them.” In some ways she is double-dipping. She gets to enjoy herself while shopping and give herself strokes for being a good person. Then she allows herself to complain about how she’s being taken for granted. If she fusses loud enough, perhaps a few more nods of recognition will come her way.

If this scenario sounds familiar, decide that your reward is the pleasure you derive from shopping, giving and focusing on others. Decide, too, that you won’t grumble if people aren’t as appreciative as your efforts deserve. Remember the enjoyment you receive when in the act of doing for others. Don’t attach a string!

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Stand Your Gound on Some and Be Flexible on Others .
Christmas brings problems that rarely come the rest of the year. It is important even when standing your gound or being flexible to do it in a gracious and kind way.
Here are some sticky wickets that are bound to come up in the next few weeks.

What do you do if someone gives you a gift, and you don’t have a gift for that person?

How do you handle it when your unmarried son brings his live-in girlfriend to your house and you don’t want them staying in the same bedroom? And she’s already not so happy with you.

How about the guest who comes on Christmas Day and proceeds to drink too much?

What about the cousin who’s supposed to bring the twice-baked potatoes for Christmas dinner and “forgets”?

What if you don’t like the robe your husband gives you, and you know if you take it back, he’ll be hurt because he thinks it’s wonderful?

How about a diamond necklace from your husband that you don’t like and the two of you can’t afford?

Regarding the person who brings you an unexpected gift — simply say, “Thank you. How lovely.” Don’t be apologetic. You haven’t done anything wrong. Also, if you keep apologizing, the person will then feel called on to take care of you further, reassuring you that you didn’t need to get her a gift.

Later in the year you can treat your friend to lunch, or give her tickets to an event, or send a book that struck you as something she might enjoy.

Tell your son who’s bringing his live-in girlfriend to town that you care about both of them, but you must be respectful of yourself. Lay out the sleeping arrangements you have made before they come. The girlfriend can share your daughter’s room and he can sleep on the living room sofa. If he balks, say you just can’t handle them sleeping together at your home. Your tone of voice and sticking to the issue will have a lot to do with whether he accepts your position or you start World War Three.

The friend who drinks too much at your home on Christmas Day? If possible, put the booze away or tell him, “No more unless you are willing to spend the night, let me drive you home, or call a cab.” If he persists in continuing to drink, invite him to spend the night, drive him home, or call a cab. Don’t let your friend leave your home with too much to drink. Protect your friend, protect other people on the road, and protect yourself. Remember, if your friend leaves and has an accident, you are also liable.

If your cousin says she “forgot” the twice baked potatoes, decide to accept her excuse. Instead of thinking, “She never follows through and she always takes advantage,” think instead of something she has done for you in the past. Then think about whether the dinner needs baked potatoes. If so, send your cousin or someone to the market to buy potatoes or something you can use as a substitute. Make a decision to be gracious and creative.

If you don’t like the robe your husband gave you, and you know he’ll feel hurt, keep it and wear it anyway. I suspect that you already have many clothes in your closet that you don’t wear on a regular basis. What’s one more item?

Regarding the diamond necklace that you don’t like and can’t afford, thank your husband profusely throughout the day. Later on in the week ask if he would go with you to exchange it for something you could wear more regularly. At the time you make your purchase, you can buy a less expensive item. Do keep thanking your husband, however, for his caring, thoughtful gift.

All these problems have several solutions. Use your brains, a soft tone of voice, and stick with the issue at hand.

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We think about a particular gift to buy someone, we earn the money to buy it, we shop for it, we haul it home and wrap it, and then at the appropriate time, we put it under the tree or take it to the office, and we give it. All the while, we hope that the receiver will enjoy our gift.

The receiver of the gift, out of deference to the giver, is to say “thank-you.” Even if the receiver doesn’t like the color of the gift, realizes the gift won’t fit, or knows he will never use it, he still needs to thank the giver enthusiastically.

Last year I gave a friend a putting green. I thought it was a great gift. I researched various putting devices and came up with a 7-foot practice green. I figured the guy could use it in his office, set it up in his den, or put it in his basement. I have a similar one set up in a spare bedroom. Mostly I trip over it, but occasionally I use it.

When this man got his gift, he said flatly, “Oh, a putting green.” He did not feign excitement, take it out of the box, look in the box, or say “thank-you.” In 30 seconds it was all over. I thought, “Missed on that one, Doris.” I was really disappointed.

For an instant I thought about rushing over and pulling the green out of the box and making over it myself. Maybe I could get him to see how wonderful it was. But I had already researched the various practice greens, talked to the fellow’s wife about it, (she thought he’d love it), ordered it from a catalogue, picked it up at the post office, wrapped the 4’x 8′ box, and lugged it to his house. Somehow trying to get this guy excited about the present seemed too much. This brings me to the point of this column. When you get a gift, there are certain things, the gift receiver should do.

First, thank the giver.

Second, say thank you with enthusiasm, even if you think the gift is ridiculous or the wrong size. Your gratitude is a way to recognize the gift giver for all he or she has been through to get you that gift. You are the center of attention when you receive a gift. You make the other person the center of attention when you say “thank-you” and praise the gift.

Third, thank the person a few times during the day or evening. This conveys to the giver that you are aware of what he or she has been through.

Fourth, if the giver starts talking about the trouble she had finding the item, or how many stores she ran to, this is an indicator that you need to give her more strokes for her time and energy.

Christmas is a time of giving. Saying “thank-you” is a way to give back as well as a way to give.

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