So last week I talked about how passing all your old junk onto someone else isn’t charity. And I thought I would continue on that theme of charity this week and pose a question that has been bugging me for years.
Is it okay to get rid of gifts?
Every so often, I try to pair down the apartment. Part of it is the thought of moving out with the twice the number of boxes as when we moved in frankly sickens me. Another part of it is I hate seeing our storage shelves over flowing with stuff (none of our closets or shelves have doors covering them. Except in the kitchen). And some of the stuff well, just doesn’t get used.
If it’s something I bought/found/stole/whatever, I have no problem passing it along. But if it’s a gift…its a whole ‘nother story. I hold it in my hands thinking, “but they wanted me to have it. This person thought of me and thought I would like this. What would they think if they knew I gave it away?”
You see, I believe in simple living. Of having what we need and not filling our lives with stuff we don’t. And a lot of gifts, I just don’t need. Or I do and use them for a time, and then realize that after a few years, they aren’t being loved like they once were.
Not that gift you gave me. I love that. And use it all the time.
Books that I read once and haven’t picked up in ages. Shirts that were cute but now don’t fit or are a bit out of style. The trinket you thought was totally my taste, but lets face it, isn’t. The bundt pan that I have never used. (Not your bundt pan, mom. I am much more likely to make mini-bundts than a whole bundt cake.) The necklace from your trip to Zimbabwe that I just would not really wear in public.
I don’t know what to do with them.
It’s not so much that I worry about someone coming to the house saying, “Hey, whatever happened to that XYZ I gave you?” It’s the idea behind it. I would probably feel a tad hurt if I knew someone gave away a gift I gave them. On the other hand – I have watched my sister give away a few scarves I gave her to Goodwill. I survived. And realized I’m probably not as good at picking out scarves for her as I thought I was.
And maybe that’s the problem. Gifts don’t have to be “stuff.” Sure, we all have some gift that someone gave us for a Christmas or a birthday that we hold onto as extra dear, filled with memories of that happy day at that person. But that doesn’t have to be every year, every occasion, every holiday. It’s pretty unrealistic to expect that every gift we ever give or are given is going to be special. Because then by definition, it wouldn’t be.
I used to not be a fan of consumable gifts. Food, drink, tickets – that kind of thing. I liked having the necklace that reminded me of my twenty first birthday or the trinket box that reminded you of me. But those things are only special when they are full of thought, when they are rare, when they are unique. And like I said, that doesn’t have to be every gift. Being low on space and full of stuff, I’ve realized we much prefer a gift card to our favorite restaurant than a new shirt.
But then I find myself feeling guilty for not thinking of every gift as special. Someone spent money or time on it. Someone wanted me to have it. So I should have it, right? Or should I sell all that I have and give it to the poor? Even the stuff that was given to me?