"No no, I can't accept that. It's too much. I can't let you do that!" One of the women had just given the other a most meaningful gift of true friendship. But the receiver would not allow herself to accept the generosity of her friend. I watched the interchange as the protests continued from one to the other. Seeing the impasse I stepped between them and offered this story to both of them.
After a year of searching, I found a kitchen cabinet island that perfectly matched the granite kitchen countertops. The online order was so heavy it had to be shipped to the local UPS store. I called Mike, the owner of the store and told him to be on the lookout for it and to warn him that it weighed over 250 pounds. I also learned that the island cabinet had to be assembled so I asked Mike if he knew a handyman that could assemble it for me. He didn't know of anyone so I figured I'd have to find one after the rolling cabinet was delivered.
About two weeks later there was a knock at the front door. When I opened the door there was UPS Mike with the heavy shipment. It wasn't in a shipping box. The cabinet had been assembled. Mike had rolled it up the driveway and wanted to place it in the kitchen for us. I was flabbergasted with what he'd done. Not only had he assembled it on his own time, but he had personally delivered it in his pickup truck.
I offered to pay Mike for his labor and effort but he refused. I insisted. He still refused, saying it was his way of helping his customers. Realizing he would not take any money, I went to a local restaurant and bought a gift card of dinner for two. Very proudly I went to the UPS store and gave it to Mike. He looked at the card, looked at me, and wistfully asked "Why did you do that?" I said I wanted to show my appreciation. Mike said, "But in doing that you just diminished my gift to you." I felt about 6 inches tall.
When I told my friend that story, she got tears in her eyes and said she had never thought of a gift in that way before. I assured her neither had I. But I always remembered what Mike had done and more importantly what he'd said about diminishing his gift. You see, Mike gave me much more than an assembled kitchen cabinet. He taught me the true meaning of gift-giving and gift-receiving. He taught me that it was okay to receive without one-upmanship. He taught me that the gift of the heart cannot be genuinely given unless there's a receiver willing to accept and allow the gift.
The three of us had an emotional hug as we digested the story of Mike. When you're next tempted to refuse or overcompensate for a gift someone has done for you, Remember Mike!
Jo - March 2011