If you buy me something I do not like or want I can almost guarantee you I will not keep it. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the gesture. I most certainly do. It’s just that I do not want to hold onto something just so that you can see it displayed somewhere in my home.
If I can return it, sell it or donate it to charity you better believe I will. I realize this may very well hurt your feelings. I don’t wish to sound heartless and uncaring. I understand that you took the time and and energy to choose this particular item specially for me.
You may have clicked on a website and had it shipped from far away. You may have driven to the store and dragged it back home with you. Regardless of how it was attained I will not keep it.
For much of my life I’ve felt guilty for finding new homes for unwanted possessions. I replayed a back-and-forth conversation in my head, which began by listing who purchased the item, where they found it and when they gave it to me. After remembering who, what, when and where I often felt too guilty to get rid of anything. It made me sad to think that someone spent their hard earned money to buy me a gift that I now wanted to discard. (To be honest it still does.)
I had clothes in my closet that I wouldn’t throw out because they were so expensive it felt like an absolute waste of money to give them away. In some cases I knew the gift giver had saved up quite a bit of their income to buy them for me and I felt too guilty for even thinking of getting rid of them. I displayed knickknacks and tchotchkes that gathered dust and took up space so that various relatives could see them displayed.
I even had a hard time getting rid of items I purchased myself. I had all sorts of reasons… “I just bought that,” “why didn’t I realize that didn’t fit before I purchased it” and “it feels like I’m throwing money right out the window.”
I defended the choice to keep these unwanted possessions. Some were pushed to the back of the closet, others were moved to the basement and some were boxed away, but they all remained in my home where I could pull them out on a moment’s notice if necessary.
One day I decided to face the truth. I simply didn’t want these things in my home. I owned enough and I would no longer feel guilty for parting with things I no longer wanted or needed.
It was initially quite difficult to purge. I thought, “Oh, so and so just bought this for me. I really shouldn’t get rid of it.” and “This still has the tags on it. How can I get rid of something I’ve never even worn.” But as I added item after item to the boxes and bags destined for charity my purging became easier.
Now I hold very little back from the donation pile. So what if I only wore a sweater once, if that vest still has the tags on it or the shoes were unbelievably expensive. I take a look at the article of clothing and make a realistic determination of whether or not I’ll ever wear it again. If I can’t convince myself of a time and place where it’ll be worn it goes into a box. If it doesn’t come out within 30 days it’s shipped off to charity.
The key is to learn from my mistakes. I make a mental note of my error. I should have tried that shirt on after I got home, I should have filed the receipt away so it could have been returned, I should have told my mom it didn’t fit when she gave it to me. In some cases I may have been able to prevent the error. In those cases I reflect on the problem, clear my conscience and send the item off on it’s merry way.
Other times there isn’t a whole lot I can do. I’m sorry that Aunt So-And-So won’t get to see her beautiful vase on my mantel. It was very kind and thoughtful of her to buy us this gift, but I already own two other vases. Oh and did I mention I can’t have flowers in the house because my cat always tries to eat them?
In these cases I make a mental note of the gift I was given. I count my blessings and thank God that I have such thoughtful people in my life. Then I take a deep breath and donate the item to charity. After all, Aunt So-And-So gave me this item to make me happy. If the item doesn’t make me happy, I think they too would want me to get rid of it.
February 1, 2012 at 4:40 AM