We all get gifts we don’t want from time to time. Unless you have a gift registry or Wish List for every birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas and dinner party; you will end up with that clunker gift. The one you have no idea what to do with or why the gifter gave it to you. I just spent my entire Sunday, helping my daughter sift through the treasures and trash of her life, as she moves into her first “real” apartment in her “real” adult life. We had some 15 boxes and bags that contained the contents of her childhood, adolescence and college life. There were figurines her grandmother gave her, several stuffed owls with caps from her graduation, the portrait an old friend painted of her and earrings that she was sure she would never wear. Many gifts. Many laden thick with dust. She diligently sorted through everything and made the tough decisions.
The unwanted, indiscriminate, poorly chosen gifts were a subject of an email conversation with my “Brain Trust” (my trusted friends who edit and tinker with the blog). What do you do when someone gives you a White Zinfandel, when you are clearly a red wine lover? Isn’t it obvious? Or the house guest brings a fake wooden bowl to a farm to table type foodie. It’s kind of like bringing a Rap CD to a Buddhist monk. What were they thinking? It’s easy to get caught up with the indignant judgment of “Is this what they think of me?” Getting WAY too wrapped up into what the gift givers intent was. It’s all a part of acceptance. Taking the good with the bad. The poorly chosen with the “spot on – this makes me so happy – you really, really know me” gift.
So what do you do when you receive the battery operated singing fish, the Chia pet or the cuckoo clock that chimes every 15 minutes? Here are some ideas.
1. “Your gift is your presence.” This was on a recent invitation to a 50th wedding anniversary I attended. When I saw that on the invite, it was SUCH a relief. What do you buy a couple who have been together for 50 years? A punch bowl? A vase? Nope. A card. That’s what. So, if you really don’t want a gift, say it. Or ask for a donation to your favorite charity. Obviously, this is easier when the occasion dictates a formal invitation but if you really don’t want anything, say it. Let their presence be their gift.
2. Register. If you are having a baby or getting married, please set up a gift registry. This is so much easier for the rest of us who have never been to your home and have no idea if you have a sister who just had a little boy and will have tons of hand me downs. And if you register, please make sure there are gifts at lower price points so that going to your baby shower or wedding doesn’t cause us to take out a second mortgage.
3. Ask. If you are the guest-to-be at the house warming party, ask the hostess if you can bring anything. I’m lucky. My husband is a home brewer, so most folks I visit end up with some homemade brew (if they enjoy beer, which I ask in advance). You never know what they might say if you ask. Folding chairs. Munchies. Extension cord. Imagine the host’s relief when you lend him the 8 foot ladder he needs to hang the party lights instead of yet another “chip and dip” bowl. Ask.
4. Gratitude. Whatever someone brings you, be sure to show your gratitude and appreciation. Halloween dish towels. Thank you! Box of Gallo Chablis. Wonderful! 3 pound bag of Skittles. You shouldn’t have! Do not explain that you are a …diabetic, an alcoholic or that you don’t celebrate Halloween. Take the gift with gratitude and acceptance. The gifter is someone who went out of their way to select a gift for you. Accept it with gratitude and move on.
5. Suspend judgment. It’s easy to get indignant and start thinking about why someone would purchase for you a set of Easter mugs or insulated cups with your rival school’s mascot on them. Any gift is more a reflection of the person giving it to you rather than the receiver. After all, unless you registered for it, this is all about the person giving it. Maybe there is a story to tell. Their brother in-law makes handmade Easter mugs. Their daughter just started going to Syracuse. Or not. Worrying about it will only eat you up. It’s really about them and not about you. Suspend judgment.
6. Let go. When we went through my daughter’s life history in 15 boxes and bags on Sunday, it took a lot of letting go. There were pictures that hung in my daughter’s bedroom for some ten years, that she hated (who knew?). There were gifts from South America that she cherished. There were several things that held a little guilt if we took them to Goodwill. What if Aunt so and so or Grandma or my friend Suzy find out that I gave the gift away. They won’t. There is someone who can use that clock radio, or teddy bear, or bracelet. The last thing you want to do is hold on to stuff and start dragging it around the earth. The guilt will drag around with you when you keep the clock radio stuffed in a box in the attic. Just let go.
I’m not suggesting you get rid of everything. If something is cherished or a memento you want to keep, please do. If you are keeping something only out of obligation or guilt; it might be time to let it go. I have to say that having all the “stuff” out of the house has been liberating. Now I’m looking in closets and thinking…hmmm…I wonder what I need to let go out of here?
Is there something you need to let go of? Please leave a comment on the WordPress site.