Part of a spa package I once sent Lauren.

One of the greatest things I have learned from my friend James (not a knitter), was the spirit of gift giving.

He was never the type to buy you a gift on your birthday, but some random day in June he might have something for you, because he saw it, and thought of you. Usually, something useful. Usually, something very thoughtful.

For James, he gave gifts for the shear joy of it, not because he was supposed to, and not because it meant he would get something back come his birthday, in fact, he rather disliked the idea of scheduled gift giving, or for the sake of receiving something in return. For him, giving was about putting something positive out in the universe, nothing more. I love his philosophy.

I once witnessed my grandmother give a gift to another person, only to have it shoved back at her because the receiver thought my grandmother didn’t need to give her anything in the first place. After watching this game, of give and return, that ultimately ended in hurt feelings, it taught me how to graciously receive a gift.

I’ve learned to never make the giver feel like their gift isn’t good enough, or that I don’t need/want it. Part of the joy of gift giving is the joy of giving. I don’t strip that from the person even if their gift is ugly, not useful, or because I feel awkward at having received the gift in the first place.

Most of the time, I feel unworthy of gifts. I’m terrible at remembering birthdays, and I have the things I need, so it’s hard for me to accept a gift, especially if I am caught off guard, and have nothing to give in return, but I accept, and do it with gratitude, and genuine thanks. I try and tuck away the thought to return the sentiment later. There’s no hope I’ll remember the giver’s birthday, but like James I usually find something perfect at some other random time.

(Here’s where I’m about to bring it around to knitting) –> Often, I like to knit people a gift. I feel it’s heartfelt. I pick something out for them. I buy the yarn, and then I spend hours knitting it. If I knit something, it is for someone truly special.

Here’s why.

-Yarn is expensive, and if I’m knitting a gift, I pick out nice yarn.

- It takes a time commitment to knit something for someone. 10 hours or more (usually more) depending on what I make, and if I use a pattern, or make one. My most elaborate gift took well over 100 hours, I’d say.

- As I’m selecting yarn, and knitting away, I’m thinking of the recipient, and putting all kinds of positive energy in to the project.

I love giving knitting though, despite the fact that the recipient might not know any of this. Oh sure, part of me loves the reaction of – You knit this? I am a good knitter and my gifts don’t look homemade, or amateurish.  I take pride in giving things that are truly hand-crafted. (although my children have some of my earlier attempts that say otherwise)   I love that I know the above, and for them it’s just something beautiful they receive.

Now, if I give that gift to another knitter it’s a different story! They know all of the above.  I’ve never given a gift to another knitter who didn’t appreciate it, feel grateful for it, or thank me genuinely for it, and as a huge bonus, I can generally assume they will care for it like a small child when it comes time to wash it.

I love getting knit gifts from other knitters. In my life I have a few exceptional friends who have knit me things. Lauren is the one who has knit the largest stash of things for me and my kids. She’s not cranking out sweaters for all of us, but wow, she has knit us a lot of stuff. I am grateful for it all. A knit gift doesn’t have to be a huge project. A quick heartfelt gift is a beautiful thing. I don’t think I will ever catch up to all that I owe her back. She is amazing. She is the type to just knit you something and whip it in the mail for no reason. She’s also the type to see a new coffee in the grocery store and whip it in the mail to you, too. Lauren is a giver.

Every time I get a Lauren-package a tiny bit of me sinks thinking: I never got to send her something from the last thing she sent me. I don’t deserve this.

This brings me to a beautiful gift project I am the recipient of, that I feel so underserving of, that I’m not sure how I will ever be able to repay the giver(s) back for….But seeing as it is a long story, that deserves a post all to itself, I’m going to save it for part 2 tomorrow.

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  1. Pingback: Accepting – part 2 | KnitLove

  2. James

    Erron, you do me such kindness with your words and your insights. And i dunno, perhaps we had sOme conversation once upon a time where i actually just articulated my philosophy on gifts but i’m pretty sure you are just that insightful. For one thing, i have doubts i could express my thoughts as clearly as you did.

    Is true that there us nothing like becoming a genuine giver of gifts to make you a gracious receiver of gifts. I used to doubt intentions and feel guilt and all that other Christmasy traditions until i learned tojust give; of myself and of material things. Then all of a sudden the gifts that came into my life were accompanied by the thought “wow, what if this isnt some artificial bullshit. What if the person giving this to me meant it in the same way i now mean it when i give gifts….. What if everyone who ever gave me a gift also meant it in the same genuine way and it was just my own ego getting in the way….. Wow, have i really made the simple concept of ‘gifts’ that complicated” .. And so on

    Thanks for a lovely post erron

    And thanks for Seth’s lovely sweater :) the love you put into is well appreciated. By him, obviously. And by me, after years of overthinking things only to see it was simPle after all

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