Everyone loves a Christmas advert, don’t they? All those roaring log fires. Snowy outdoor scenes. Happy, excited children who never moan, fight or stare at a screen for hours. And the gifts, don’t forget the gifts. People receive gifts and they are ALWAYS delighted with what they’re given. Not even a hint of “Another corkscrew? Seriously?”, or the knowing look that says, “I know this strawberry shortcake scented odour-neutralising candle has been sitting in the bottom of your gift drawer for 3 years”. Nope, the festive ads are all joy and teary-eyed delight. If only…
Because that’s one of the downsides of this whole Christmassy thing. Just when you’re making great progress on sorting, organizing and decluttering, along comes this major event which at times can seem to be all about adding more stuff to your life. It’s the sheer amount of it. You have all the decorations, the cards, the living room already seems smaller because half of it’s taken up with the too-big tree, and now there are piles of gifts which you need to work out where to put.
There’s that point, sometimes around Boxing Day, sometimes later, when you look around and see stuff. Everywhere. All those things you’ve been given. Some of which you hardly know what they are let alone what to do with them. Yes, oh giver of the hot pink llama themed radiator duster, that includes YOU. It can start to feel overwhelming, as though your home has been invaded and upended.
But don’t be overwhelmed. You don’t need to feel powerless. Once the guests have gone and the decorations packed away, here’s the thing to remember. You don’t need to keep the gifts you don’t want or like. You really don’t.
The thing is, friends and family gave you gifts because they wanted to. Because they were thinking of you. Because they wanted you to know how much you mean to them. It’s that expression of love that drives the act of giving. That’s the gesture. That’s the bit to focus on. The gift itself? It’s just a thing which may or may not be useful to you. But whatever you do with it, you can’t erase the gesture. Once the love is expressed and you have the gift in your home, it’s yours to decide what happens to it. Keep it if you love it or if it’s useful. But don’t keep it if you hate it or if you have one already. That’s pointless. Just remember, the gift was in the giving, not in the having and keeping forever.
No one will judge you for choosing not to shove it in the back of the cupboard to fester for 10 years with all the other unworn sweaters and never-to-be-read books.
Key to all of this is regifting. You may feel bad slinging a gift into the post-Christmas tip-run but if you could donate the slow cooker your mother in law gave you, to a student who’s keen to eat a bit more healthily, or the vase a friend gave you (as she does every year…), to the local care home, it’s a win-win. They get the gift they’ll use. You assuage any guilt at getting rid of a kind gift by knowing you’re donating it to somewhere worthwhile. Just do it quickly, before you move into the New Year or you may lose the will and find it’s all still hanging around when next Christmas comes around.
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Copyright Sarah Macnaught, Rightsize Ltd 2017