It can sometimes seem that we spend half our time shopping for, receiving, and, sadly, returning gifts. As the year turns, gift exchanges produce some of the worst stress a person will feel, up there with surgery and first dates. We fret about finding the right item; we worry about spending too much or too little; we fight through crowds, regardless of the time of year. And then, once the gifts have been exchanged with each other, we fight our way back into the shops and malls to exchange it for something that is the right size, or color, or design.
And we do this year, after year, after year, after year . . .
Remember that saying about insanity, and doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results? Yeah, that.
I realize how heavily our economy depends on consumer spending. But we cannot use that as an excuse to allow items and possessions to take control over our actions.
And then there is the other side of the equation: the clutter of gifts. We are trained from birth to graciously say “thank you” and take whatever it is back home and find a place for it, because someone took the time and effort to find and buy it for us. Maybe it goes into storage, only emerging when whoever gave it comes for a visit. Maybe it just takes up space.
This is a tricky situation. You don’t want to refuse something, because that will hurt the giver’s feelings, and it would be rude of you to do. But you also have to recognize the possibility of being buried beneath a mountain of cat-themed cardigans.
So, what are your choices? Well, it really comes down to two areas:
1: Specific Requests. When people get married or have a baby, they register for gifts. These are items that they genuinely want or need. So, if someone asks you what you want for a present, give a specific answer.
2: Charity Requests. If you honestly can’t think of anything you want/need/can use, the best thing to do is ask the giver to make a donation in your name to your favorite charity. $20 can get you a novelty t-shirt you wouldn’t wear on your worst day. Or, it can feed a 3rd World family for a month. Take your pick.
This is a delicate topic. People like to give gifts as signs of affection. But, if you are dedicated to the idea of clearing your clutter, be firm. This is your life, and if you want to live it cat-cardigan free, that is your choice.
Next: Finding Space