About the Author

Mary is a writer and speaker who lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons – but lives because of God’s grace. She writes about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places at MaryCarver.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

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(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
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Reader Interactions


  1. You’ve touched on a sensitive topic for me!
    Since gifts are not my love language, I’ve often felt paralyzed in the face of the GIFT-language people in my life. Nothing is ever enough. Their disappointment is palpable. I love these people, but Christmases, birthdays and other occasions are really tough. It’s like being set-up for failure.
    We struggle to respect and try to understand each other’s language.
    I appreciate this post a lot. Thanks for the transparency and helping me understand a little better. Possibly it will be a springboard to some conversations that need to happen.

  2. I feel like I could write volumes on this. And perhaps, in retrospect it says volumes about me. I’m still a work in progress. I have learned to quietly let go of my expectations about others. And take what comes. Even if I have to donate it to someone else 🙂
    It is especially awkward when it is something that you assumed they knew you’d never want. Even made clear. But some people aren’t good at the gift thing. Or maybe they are and we just need to receive what wasn’t wrapped.

  3. This post really hits home with me! My love language is definitely gifts, and Christmas is often a source of frustration to me.
    I would rather not give a gift at all than give a less than perfect gift…and I feel disappointed and discouraged when those I love don’t give me gifts that I truly like. It makes me feel like they really don’t know me all that well, or maybe don’t care 🙂
    Sounds silly, doesn’t it??
    This year, circumstances are dictating almost no gift giving in our family, and I am finding it strangely liberating. I need to spend some time myself remembering the real reason for Christmas and the real reason why we give gifts to each other.
    Thanks for this post!

  4. This Christmas is proving to be unusual and certainly not a perfect rendition of the marketed version we are bombarded with this time of year. We recently (the last few days) moved to a new city and into a true fixer upper. Days before our planned move, my Mother-in-law suddenly and unexpectantly passed. Life is anything but normal this Christmas season. However, I find I have a new appreciation and deeper insight into what Joseph and Mary experienced during that first Christmas season … trust even in highly stressful times, joy in the midst of unconvenient circumstances and the presence of God in the most unlikely places of my life.

  5. Love your transparent posting! ONe of my favorite phrases is “God shines brightest through us when we are willing to be transparent to others” You shine with God’s light today by sharing your realizations of yourself and how God is working in you. So encouraging for all! And afterall..there really is only ONE perfect gift that was exactly the right size, color and shape and wrapped exactly as it should have been…in swaddling cloth.
    Thanks for writing so beautifully today Mary!

  6. Oh friend…we are kindred spirits. I completely understand and wrestled with something similar in years past…when i finally got to the point of letting go of expectations…oh…I opened joy in every box…even the box that contained pepper spray (NOT KIDDING!) 🙂

  7. I really like this, and APPRECIATE it… and I have a story of something I think I’d like to share. It’s what’s currently going on in my life, but if it can help someone else… I know it’s certainly helped me (moreso even after reading this post) to “give up on perfect” for this Christmas… Thank you!

  8. Sigh – I am so much the same way. It took me a long time to remember this, and still something I can use a good reminder of every now and then!
    I used to wrap all my presents in the style of Martha Stewart for this very reason. And now I’m okay with mismatched paper and bows. Sort of! Because truly, the only thing that matters is the gift is a display of how much we love that person, or how much they love us. It can be as simple as a box of apple cider, but such a gesture shows that person has been in the giver’s heart. What a wonderful gift!
    (And I laughed when I read have you ever eaten broken the Christmas cookies. Why, yes I have! Just this week!)

  9. I am guilty of giving what I want to receive, subconsciously, of course. I mean, who doesn’t want a Tiffany bracelet I think? Instead this year I made a commitment to give people what they truly want even if it makes no sense to me. My hubby wants to donate a goat to a family in need in Africa. Which is beautiful, but part of me just wants him to ask for something material which I can pick up at the mall. Anyway, great post that really got me thinking!

  10. I gave up on expectations of gifts a long time ago. I cannot think or remember a gift from my family or my husband or three children that I was truly excited about or really loved. I guess we are all too practical. We give gifts of things we need. I try to give the grandkids things they want and they are truly excited…….What excites me at Christmas is usually that we are all pretty healthy, my husband and I have raised three college graduates whose educations are completely paid for, they are all working at jobs they enjoy, no one is in debt, everyone has stayed married, we are all believing Christians, we enjoy being together, we see each other often and do not get mad at each other and carry grudges, so being excited over a present just doesn’t seem that important.