Getting Presents You Don’t Like: How to Show Happiness Without Being Fake

The day is almost here.  The day when you will sit around the Christmas tree with your family and stare at each other awkwardly while you open up presents.  The pressure is on as you untie the ribbon and tear the paper… will you have to force a kind reaction because you don’t like what you got, or, at your relief, will it come naturally because the present is exactly what you wanted? 

We’ve all been put in that situation where we care for the individual whose gift we’re opening and we want to communicate happiness as they behold the look on our face, but we don’t want to be a fake or a liar by saying something like “It’s just what I wanted” when we didn’t care much for their present.  How can we communicate genuine happiness without being fake even when a present is obviously something we plan on re-gifting?     

First, plan on using honest words.  I’m not saying that you have to straight-up ask the person if they have the receipt in order to be honest (this is an opportunity to exercise some discretion), but their are things you should refrain from saying that would be deceitful.  With eyes fixed on you in anticipation of your reaction, I know it will be difficult, but don’t say you like it when you don’t.

Second, use words of gratefulness instead.  You don’t have to like something to be thankful for it, so say “thank you”, I really appreciate it”, and “this is very kind of you”. 

Third, if you are going to say that you are thankful, you should actually be thankful.  So, spend some time before Christmas day cultivating gratefulness in your heart.  Here are some things to do to help you with this:

    • Pray and ask God to humble you by helping you remember what you deserve because of your sin.  Anything that is not hell is grace to us.  When you recall the justice you should receive, all of the sudden an unwanted Christmas present is transformed into an evidence of God’s love for you.
    • Remind yourself that the person who is giving you this gift took time, energy, and money to bring it into your possession.  In short, this person sacrificed for you because they care.  The gift you are opening is more than a gift, it’s a memorial of sorts that says, “God has put people in your life who want good to come to you.”
    • Remind yourself that it is not this person’s job to satisfy you with the gift they’re giving.  We can put too much weight on people and their gifts to us, as if our happiness rests upon whatever is underneath that wrapping paper.  Let us remember that our hearts find true joy in Jesus Christ.  Because he came from heaven to earth to the cross, our search for fulfillment is over.  The presents you will open this week and the people who have given them do not have the strength to satisfy you; they will instantaneously buckle under that kind of pressure.  But we can keep loading up Jesus with our hope for happiness and he’ll stand up under all of it!

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About Brent Osterberg

Ransomed sinner, husband to Keri, father to the kiddos three, associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX, and lover of most things epic. View all posts by Brent Osterberg

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