Of Gifts and Impositions
Firstly let me apologize, this one is a little long but I think that the holiday season is the perfect moment to put the thought out there.
Many of us have often issues with "gifters", be it people with a hobby that give us something that's hand-made, or someone getting rid of stuff (i.e. spring clean) and "gifting" it to us, or somebody else "buying to buy" (this happens especially with kids).
Personally I think that there's no way out of this situation but saying truthfully that we do not wish to be at the receiving end of certain gifts, as loving and thoughtful (sometimes) as they might be...
And let's face it, in many cases gifts have nothing to do with us and everything to do with the gifter's intention of getting rid (in a "positive" way) of what they make/have/buy, because they simply don't have any more room in their houses and their lives.
Gifts that are given thinking of what the receiver really (really) wishes, are seldom a burden.
This does not mean that we should be unappreciative of the sentiment and the love the gifter puts into the gift, or that we have to tell them we don't want their gifts in an abrupt and cruel way, but many gifts can be an imposition... it's evident.
As with all impositions it's up to us to set boundaries, even if it's boundaries about receiving things, which is what doesn't allow us to see the "imposition" part of the matter and in many ways "forces us to be grateful", which is such a sad thing. But setting boundaries, especially with people who will be in our lives for a long time, is very effective for not rubbing a relationship raw... and again, it's up to US to do it.
The issue here though, I think, goes further than setting boundaries -which we all already do, imagine that this family member would show up unannounced every few days instead of giving gifts, we will surely have a heart-to-heart with them very quickly- and learning how to do so in a loving way.
Above all, I think that the issue is about starting to consider that some gifts ARE REAL IMPOSITIONS on the receiver. at times an even greater imposition than several unannounced visits (visits eventually end but a gift is supposed to stay at your home forever). If we see it as what they really are, impositions when they are such, we might recognize that setting boundaries with the gifters is simply a very effective way to maintain and grow a close relationship, and that not doing so will result in either us changing our ways because of somebody else (it's an option if we like it) or growing resentment.
My way of dealing with the matter at hand is, finally, to:
- express my thankfulness to the gifter for the intention and the love
- tell them sincerely and clearly that I have no place in my life for the gift itself
- acknowledge the feeling they put into it and, at the same time
- help them see the imposition this object would be in my home and in my life.
I turned down several gifts many years ago, it was at times awkward but now the people who hold me dear know that if they want to give me something I will be really happy about, they can cook me a homemade vegan meal, or spend a Saturday afternoon with me at the park or at the beach...
Another gift I usually ask for are donations to my favourite charities, those make me and many other beings very happy!!!
Because really, isn't a gift supposed to make the receiver happy?...
... and not be the "dumping ground" of a hobby or a house clean or a shopping habit? Sorry for the image, but sometimes I feel it's just like that...
At the end of the day, it is our responsibility to tell other people what makes us happy. When I'm on the other side, I'm sooo very grateful that someone close to me tells me, clearly, what makes them happy!!! It's so easy to give that way ^_^
This is how I see this issue, what do you think?
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