I'm a giver.
And I'm not saying that in a martyr-ish sort of way. It's as much a curse as it is a blessing.
I love to do nice things for people. It's nothing I really "plan" per-se. If I hear that someone I know has had a long week and no time to grocery shop, I may make a casserole or a pot of soup. No biggie. It's an excuse to cook something I wouldn't normally make. If someone has helped me out - picked up my kids, watched my house when I'm out of town, shoveled my driveway... I make sure they know I'm appreciative, either by reciprocating or by giving them a token of my thanks. And if I've been blessed in a way I can't return, I try to pay it forward to someone I find in a similar situation.
Again, I'm not saying this to pat myself on the back and let you know how thoughtful I am. I'd like to think that I do it because I'm a good Christian who was raised with decent morals and values. But I know better.
I do it out of guilt.
First of all, I hate "owing" people. When someone does something nice for me, they're automatically "up one" on my tally sheet. In my head, now it's MY turn, and I am SURE that they are sitting at home thinking I am some kind of selfish yahoo that just TAKES and TAKES and TAKES.
Which is why I'm so bad at receiving gifts. Any gifts. Because I know what it means. TAG - I'M IT.
Now of course, the logical part of me knows that my sweet neighbor is not sitting at home tonight wondering when I am going to bring her a hot, steaming plate of beignets right after I shovel her driveway (gifts from her and her husband just today.) But the "me" part of me is thinking, SHOOT. What am I going to do for them NOW?
That's the other thing. I'm lousy at RECEIVING gifts. Occasions such as Christmas and my birthday make me as uncomfortable as my grade school piano recitals. All eyes are on me (as I sit perfectly straight on the hard piano bench). I slowly tear open the wrapping paper (painfully trying not to miss any arpeggios). Finally - the reveal (as my final chord resonates in the quiet room). They wait for my reaction (I stand to bow). Is it everything they thought it would be? (Is it everything they thought it would be?)
Then it gets worse. I feel guilty for receiving the gift. I'm not worthy. Whatever I did was not enough to deserve such a gift. Really, it was nothing. Shoe on the other foot? I'm tripping all over myself to make sure that anyone who tells me I look thinner has a gift certificate by day's end.
It's a double-edged sword, this gift giving. I'd certainly rather give than receive. It's just how I am. Because then... I'm one up on you.