This copper etching hangs on my dining room wall. Each time I pass it I think of the Ivanishvili family from Tablisi Georgia. I met the daughter Nina in 1991. She had been attending the University of Denver on a student visa and had entered the country on a passport issued by the U.S.S.R. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, she found herself with no way to renew her Visa for the coming school year as the government that had issued the passport no longer existed. Her home country Georgia--once a republic of USSR--was now newly independent without the necessary bureaucracy to issue her a passport. With the help of her university advisors and immigration officials, she obtained refugee status. Within weeks her home country was in turmoil and with only a short notice, her father, mother and 88-year-old grandmother walked out of their home--with one bag each--to join Nina and a new life in Denver.
Nina, who had lived with us for a few weeks while her status was being sorted out so she could move back into the university dorm, called me at my Real Estate office asking if I could help find a place for her family to live. We were able to find an agency that was placing Russian refugees. Two weeks before Christmas they were moved into a sparsely furnished apartment. We invited them all to join us for Christmas dinner. The grandmother, who spoke no English, refused but Nina and her parents came. At the dinner table, they presented us with this wonderful etching done by a Georgian artist. The family came here with so few possessions yet they offered us this beautiful piece carried from their home. I started to object but they insisted--which brings me to the thought that initiated this story:
My mother, who parented us by aphorism, often said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." As a child, being blessed was not important to me--and receiving gifts was certainly more fun. As an adult being blessed is still not that important to me though I've discovered that giving is definitely much easier than acceptance. When gifts are given from excess, abundance or plenty the acceptance, though often accompanied by a sense of obligation, is relatively easy. It is when the gift is a true financial and sentimental sacrifice that it is much more difficult.
Over the years I have realized that sincere, appreciative acceptance is in itself a gift.