Accepting or Declining Gifts

We have sayings and proverbs, such as “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” or “that gift is really a white elephant”.

Seth Godin recently talked about gifts explaining the origin of the white elephant idea and how it has come to mean a gift that you don’t need or want. He suggests that if it is a gift, you can always decline it if it is something you can’t get rid of and is expensive to keep—like a white elephant.

Sometimes a gift is not a benefit.

Seneca wrote about 3,000 words (in English translation, of course, I don’t know how many Latin words) about balancing the ledger if someone gives you a benefit and later injures you. How do you figure out if you are indebted for the benefit or need retribution for the injury? He suggests ignoring the injury and acknowledging the benefit.

This may be Advent, but it is also the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. You may be contemplating the appropriate gift for family and friends. You may also be anticipating a nice gift from someone special.

Practice giving thoughtful experiences as gifts and graciously accepting what is given to you—unless, of course, you find a large stock truck parked in front of the house on Christmas.

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