In the Gospels, it is written that it is better to give than to receive, but here’s the problem; if there isn’t someone willing to receive the gifts, nobody can give them!
I think this is especially true when it comes to people with disabilities. I’ve often run into the situation where I’ve gotten a birthday gift (cards seem to be okay for some reason) for a friend or family member and they’ll say ‘Oh you shouldn’t have’ and not in the friendly ‘ah shucks’ tone but in a more paternalistic ‘I shouldn’t have done that’ tone. Or when I’ve offered to buy coffee when were out they’ll say ‘You can pay for it next time’ only ‘next time never comes’. While these people are truly trying to be kind, in their kindness they are in fact; robbing me.
What they are robbing me of is the opportunity of feeling the joy of giving. The sense of community by sharing something with someone and not just being the one that gets shared to. In looking at this from a very large perspective, giving something to another is showing your love for that person, and as a group, disabled people lack as many opportunities to show love as ‘normal’ people do.
The solution to this problem in my opinion is communication (get used to this solution people I think poor communication is at the root of a lot of people ills). People with disabilities have to speak up for themselves more and ‘take’ giving away from their friends and family. Let the people who say they care about you know how much you’re hurt but being unable to give to them. I done this many times over the years and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the wide eyed looked I’ve gotten from people when they realize what they have been taking from me without even knowing it.
And for those family, friends and staff people who reading this, please realize just how much you are hurting the ones you support and love by not letting them give you presents, or by just letting them buy you a cup of coffee every once and while. On the other hand, when you take their presents with grace, you will be surprised at how much you will actually be giving back.
By Cathy Grant