The Givers and the Takers: A Post-Holiday Reflection

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Now that the last of the shredded metallic snowman wrapping paper and coordinating ribbon has been swept away and put out with the trash, (alongside the boxes revealing how much dough we blew this holiday), we can all take a moment for ourselves (before the craziness of New Year’s Eve, that is) to reflect upon our time with family and friends and resolve to devote more time and energy to our relationships in 2017.

If your family is anything like mine, you have a vast array of colorful characters that, in spite of their faults, and sometimes even because of them, you love dearly. (If not, I can lend you a few. Email me.) When everybody gathers, it’s great. It really and truly is. We forget about the preparation-related stresses that precede the celebration and simply partake of the beauty and warmth of the experience. While I’m sure neither of us would trade our families or time with them during the holidays for anything in the world, (save for maybe front row tix to an Outkast reunion concert), these gatherings often illuminate our given set of people for who they truly are:  givers and takers.

While admittedly, things are never as simple as A or B, black or white, I feel I could dust off the old label-maker and sticker just about everybody in my immediate and extended circles with one of the aforementioned titles. If you aren’t sure which you fall under, take a gander below.

Let’s start with “The Givers” (because I find them fundamentally less flawed and generally like them better).

The Giver
Traits: generous, maternal/paternal, humble

Holiday Behaviors: buys gifts for everybody from Grandma to the dry-cleaning lady,

sets up elaborate games to keep the family entertained,

gives up master bedroom to host great Aunt who showed up unannounced

Problems: hemorrhages time and money on people who don’t reciprocate,

overextends his/herself,

is ultimately left disappointed when others fail to live up to preconceived expectations

Resolutions for 2017: Budget time and money on yourself and the people who deserve your time and money.

Limit social responsibilities, therefore limiting stress.

Set realistic expectations and give freely, expecting absolutely nothing in return.

You can’t be everything and do everything for everyone. Let others take care of their own responsibilities.

The Taker

Traits: self-absorbed, aloof, vain

Holiday Behaviors: abstains from gift-giving but not gift-receiving,

complains about gifts, itinerary, food, etc. after making no effort to contribute to preparation,

feels he/she scored some cool stuff, but is ultimately disappointed and wants something more.

Problems: inadvertently irritates/hurts feelings of “the givers” due to lack of reciprocation,

places extra responsibility and stress on “the givers” to pull his/her dead weight,

feels unfulfilled and seeks additional material objects

Resolutions for 2017: Just as prescribed to givers, budget time and money on those deserving of it. (This needn’t be a money issue. Make gifts, repurpose thrift store treasures, and write out your thanks in cards.)

Take on at least a small amount of social responsibility within the family. (Host a potluck at the park or arrange for a movie night.)

As mentioned above, set realistic expectations and give freely, expecting absolutely nothing in return.

Nobody in your family owes you a thing, except love and respect.

While we may not amend any of our character flaws in 2017, we can at least be a bit more aware of them and so account for and correct as needed (with alcohol. Just kidding . . .?). Cheers to the end of 2016- a year of the death of countless beloved pop-culture icons and a Trump presidential win. Things can only go up from here (she said with cautious optimism).

Happy New Year!

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