I am thinking about how giving a gift “establishes a feeling-bond between two people”.

In chapter four of The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, Lewis Hyde discusses this “feeling-bond” prominent in gift giving, and how it differs from the feeling of freedom we experience in commodity exchange.

Having just spent a few days visiting with family, this comparison tickled my analyst side.

Gifts were a rarity in my family of origin.

Raised a Jehovah’s Witness, there were no exciting Christmas mornings, no birthday celebrations, no surprise gifts just to say “I love you”…In addition, poverty and my father’s alcoholism often led to gifts promised that rarely materialized.

As I read this chapter, I found myself holding my family under Hyde’s microscope.

Could the lack of this gift-giving “feeling bond” Hyde speaks of be one of the reasons it was so easy for my individual family members to go our separate ways when our family fell apart? Could this be why—even now—we go months without speaking, giving only a passing thought to those who share our same blood?

Our relationships are a tangle of detachment and crazy love.

Maybe I need to send my mom a present.

This lack of giving, and receiving, has shaped me—it’s true.

Hyde says, “…gifts do not bring us attachment unless they move us…”

This was my sin: the belief that I did not need anyone. I shunned their gifts. What meaning did they have when their actions spoke so much more clearly? Love means more thang giving a gift. I did not need them. It was all up to me.

I refused to let myself be moved.

And in rejecting relationship with my family, I rejected the One who gave me the greatest gift of all.


I am rethinking just what it means to give a gift.

These subtle gifts—a touch, a whisper of love in the night—don’t these gifts bond us to one another?

“These,” says Hyde, “are attachments to be desired.”


I must pause in this self-psychoanalysis for a time.

I am going shopping.

Searching for just the right peace-offering.

It’s never too late to try.

Visit High Calling Blogs for more thoughts on this chapter from Sam.


  1. says

    I love to give gifts to people who do not expect them. I love to surprise people. I pray you find just the right surprise.
    Blessings and prayers, Andrea

  2. says

    oh, Laura,
    how you speak the words on my heart.
    in my own story, this is where I am.
    I spent the other day running fingers through fabric, the beginnings of a quilt..blanket of rainbow hope.
    please know you have my love and prayers in this.
    It keeps me accountable in my gifting too.

  3. says

    Each time we write from the heart and with God’s leading, don’t we give part of us? And part of Him.

    What if something you give is special to you, but just “stuff” to another–will that make your giving any less valuable? I should think not.

  4. says

    I got goose bumps reading this.
    Your posts always bless me so much, Laura –
    partly because I see how God has blessed your life in spite of the trials you endured as a child. You have chosen to be a better person and not a bitter person.
    Your children and husband are very blessed to have someone as special, loving and caring in their lives.

    I can’t wait to hear about the perfect gift you found.
    Please let us know what you found. I know it’s gonna be perfect.

    Love you!

  5. says

    Wow! What a great and thought-provoking post! I can imagine how not receiving gifts when you were a kid would alter your understanding of a need for them. And yet, gifts really are so important in displaying love. God did show us that in Jesus. A gift can’t be earned. It is given as a token of love, to show the feelings deep inside to the one you love. It most definitely is never too late to allow your feelings to be revealed through a gift. It touches people sometimes in a way that nothing else could. Go shopping my friend. And enjoy every minute of selfless thinking as you pick the perfect gifts for those you love. It is fun!
    Have a blast!

  6. says

    This is a beautiful post. I’ve learned so much about you, your raising, and your family. You are such a giving and loving person when it comes to your husband and children…it amazes me what God has enabled you to overcome. It’s not so easy to walk a different path when we’ve been reared in a certain way. I believe the actual raising and childhod of kids is underrated…there’s so much power and potential depending on what happens in those years. It can make us stronger to have to dig away from those “ways” or make us weaker and just crawl into those ways.

    Moving post.

    I hope your peace-offering give is the beginning of something beautiful.

  7. says

    And I’m thinking that gifts aren’t simply material things. In families like ours, the simple gifts of coming to our plays and concerts, or preparing us for life by teaching us to cook, or so many other things that fall through the cracks… why, perhaps the lack of these gifts is partly what promotes detachment.

    I have the same sense of detachment, btw.

    Hearing your story is a gift to me…

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