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by Mary Leppert

Giving or Receiving, Which Is the Gift?

This holiday season I was reminded, time and time again, what a wonderful "gift" it is to let someone give you a gift. I find that the real giving is in being the receiver. Over the six weeks or so from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, many social events occurred. Some were planned, some happened on the spur of the moment. For us, this holiday season was well-balanced -- attending parties and hosting parties, or having fun just staying home. It was a full-circle experience and very enjoyable. This was so because the majority of people we know, are willing to give and take, thus giving us all an equal opportunity to feel the pleasure of hosting them, giving of ourselves and then returning the gift by being in their homes. One of the nicest experiences of the holidays was getting together with old friends that we have not seen in a long time. I was especially touched by a family that was willing to come to our house, even though they lived some 70 miles away. It really felt like we were given a gift by them. It felt like they gave us a present by letting us cook for them and entertain them in our home.

In every family, there seems to be the aunt or grandmother who is always given deference as the entertainer, the hostess, whose house is forever the understood center of holiday festivities. When I was a child, this provided a sense of stability, just as the holiday season itself did. It was a given that we would celebrate our holidays in a certain way, at a certain house, and the unchanging location was part of the celebration. The problem with this type of personality, is that she usually wouldn’t be involved in anything she did not initiate, or if she attended someone else’s function, it would be with a very critical eye. Thus, "giving" nothing. Probably most of us have similar memories and no doubt some of us dreamed of growing up to be the designated entertainer . . . the adult parent who was the center of attention, graciously giving time and home for the pleasure of others. It requires confidence and skill in coordinating many different activities at once. While some people are only too happy to never function as the hostess, never having to put forth the effort and risk of failure in such an undertaking, others thrive on the pleasure and feeling of goodness and accomplishment that comes from throwing parties and activities; in seeing others enjoying themselves and being responsible for it.

I have been thinking a lot about this giving/taking scenario and it has made me question the 80/20 rule. You know, 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work. I wonder how many of the 20 percent-ers are the type I mentioned above, who are never involved in anything not planned and controlled by them? Could it be possible that 80 percent of the people in any give-and-take situation are merely deferring to a group of 20 percent that always insist on being the givers? Are these 20% "givers" or are they selfish and controlling and unwilling to ever let anyone else be the hostess to a party, or a planner to a family gathering, or an organizer of a family reunion? It often seems, in this context, that the 80% who do not do the work are simply takers, selfish, disinterested in anyone outside of themselves and their own families. It is assumed that they do not lift a finger because of negative qualities. However, I wonder if there is a new wrinkle to this: Maybe some of the 20 percent-ers do their best to make sure that no one else sponsors an activity. Possibly they are the same types as the people who will not attend a party or social outing that they do not host!

So, how does this fit into our lives at home? Within my own home, I have to stop and ask myself the question: "Am I always the person who does 80 percent of the work? Is it because I am controlling and think that I can do things the best? Am I unwilling to give my husband or son the opportunity to plan the weekend, fix a dinner that might not be my ideal of perfect, decide what to do for fun?" How good of a receiver am I in all areas of my life? I have made a resolve this year to not only surround myself with people who are willing to receive, but I also want to give them the gift of allowing them to give to me. I challenge you with your families and friends, to let someone give you a gift of perhaps a dinner that is not your favorite food or maybe a meal that is not perfectley cooked. Why not let your kids plan a weekend of fun that is not YOUR ideal. Accept the gift of a not so well-made bed a not so clean floor, etc. Isn’t part of the whole fabric of life to not have every thing be the "perfect" experience?

New this issue: I would like to call your attention to three new features in this issue. First is a column on page 21, we call "Wind Off the Waves" by Barbara Theisen, of Wisconsin. Barbara is an excellent, experienced writer and homeschooling mother, whose initial offering in these pages is in the form of two articles. Our second new feature is "A View From Home", on page 8. It is an interesting news and information column by Cyndy Rogers of Southern California. Lastly, we have "The Cranial Gymnasium" by Moses Aackar. Moses is an entrepreneur and the father of five. This column will deal with critical thinking, featuring products for teaching this important topic and other information regarding logic and reasoning.

Please check our index for Link Conference information. In our planning for this year, I feel that we have the very best conference planned that we have ever produced. May you have a happy and prosperous 2002! Thank you so much for reading The Link.
Mary Leppert

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