I remember growing up and hearing my mother use the term “Indian Giver” a lot to describe people who gave you a gift and then eventually took it back or tried to. I also remember as a kid, sometimes there were people who would give you a gift with the stipulation that if you did this or that, the gift would have to be returned. I always hated that. A gift is supposed to be something given without expectation of anything back. Obviously, there are times when one might expect a gift back. At Christmas, you get a gift for a family member and you probably expect they will get you one back, but it doesn’t always happen. As a kid, it can make you sad when you give and don’t get, but as I got older, I realized the REAL meaning of giving is being happy even if you get nothing in return. Just knowing you made the other person happy can truly be a gift in itself.

There have been many times in the past years where I have been given a gift during the holidays and I either couldn’t afford to give one back or if I did, it was far less expensive than the one given to me. Money isn’t easy to come by for everyone and some members of my own family have enough to buy gifts for everyone else, while others don’t. This is why the older members started a tradition of drawing names for the adults so they get one gift of a certain price for one other adult and then all kids still in school are given gifts from everyone if it can be afforded. Even so, the rules are broken by some adults that CAN afford more and it does make me sad because I can’t always reciprocate, but as long as the one giving understands that, everything is fine.

I have a really big issue with people that are Indian Givers. When I say that term, I am speaking of the definition that WE in America have given it. The term “Indian Givers” came because of help and aid given by Indians that were misinterpreted as gifts. To the Indians, they were just helping, expecting eventually there would be a payback of equal price or the return of the item, so it was more of an exchanging of gifts OR a trade. European Americans mistook the giving as their meaning of a gift, which is something that one gives expecting nothing in return. So the whole term came out of a complete misunderstanding and it still sticks today. I feel bad almost for using it cause it makes it sound as if Indians are these hateful people who take back their gifts when the truth is they weren’t.

Nevertheless, there are times when a person gives you something and it is understood that it’s  not a mere gift. A person may lend you an item to use for a certain time period or until you can afford to get the item yourself, for instance. A person may give you an item and make arrangements to trade with you for another item you have of equal price. In these circumstances and some others, it’s not a gift, but a loan or a trade. If a person gives you a gift for a special occasion, you expect it to be a gift and not a loan or trade. If a person hands you an item and says, “Here, I want you to have this” and doesn’t make any stipulations that it’s only for a certain time period or that they want something in return, it’s considered a gift. Excluding translation problems due to people speaking different languages, this really should be self explanatory. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always seem to be, because there are still people that end up asking for the “gift” back for whatever reason or get mad because they weren’t given anything in return. I am not sure what I should call those sort of people, but I guess you could say they are “empty” givers, because their giving is without true meaning of the word. At the same time as I call them that, I feel an extreme sadness for people that are empty givers because I fear they will never know the joy I have felt. The joy of giving someone a gift, seeing them smile and feeling totally fully of happiness in knowing you made someone’s day. The joy of being alright with no reciprocation because you never GIVE expecting it. You give for the love and the joy of giving and should you end up receiving something unexpectedly, it means even more to you because you truly weren’t wanting anything in return.


Giving Thanks Day #12: Today, I am thankful for knowing what it truly means to give without expecting anything in return. I am also thankful for the wonderful mother in my life who taught me the TRUE meaning of giving, the TRUE meaning of Christmas and the TRUE meaning of unconditional love. My mother is the kind who has stated the words, “I will do without so my children never have to.” I live a life where I know I will ALWAYS have someone who will help me, no matter what happens, because I have my mother. My mother is the ultimate GIVER. She gives and she gives, never receiving even a small portion of what she gives to her family. I am so incredibly blessed and thankful for her. The older I get and the more people I meet, the more I realize that my mother is one in a billion!


  1. Beautiful post and I implore you to share it with your mom…. and then give her something special as a surprise thank you. Most moms will give their lives for their kids and when their kids show appreciation by honoring them, it makes that selflessness even more special. 🙂


  2. The real gift is giving. Giving without expecting to receive.

    We don’t have money to buy alot of gifts. Gifts are small and given with love. You can’t by love, family love should be unconditional. We are going to our daughters house in Franc efor Christmas this year. She then announced there would be a whole army of inlaws there. Last time we went several years ago I was horrified as I was expected to buy gifts for everyone.

    this year I made it quite clear to our daughter. We now have 2 grand children and we are spending the very little money we have on flights to visit family, not on a whole bunch of strangers! Not sure it went down too well but I don’t like being put in a situation spending money we don’t have on complete strangers.
    Think it was resolved by doing a secret santa present.

    It was tough to say and I felt bad as I am a giving person.


    1. I find that the gifts I remember the most are the ones that didn’t cost much at all, but came from the heart. I still have this little $1 Angel figurine I got from my niece Hannah when she was little….she had about 5 or 6 dollars in all and went to the dollar store and spent her money on some gifts and I was one of the lucky people to receive a gift from her. It was one of the best gifts ever because she didn’t have much money but wanted so much to give me a gift that she gave up one of her precious dollars. A true gift of love! 😀


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