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GIFTING GONE WRONG: MARIE, WE HAVE A PROBLEM

PART 2 OF 3


I can normally forget about most things pretty easily. By most things, I mean all the important things like appointments, promises, great ideas, basic words, and where I put my glasses and phone last. Fun fact: My husband found our dishcloth in the freezer the other day!


It’s often the strangest things, though, that keep checking in with me to see if I’m still feeling some kind of way about it, and this time, it was all things gift related.


After getting hooked on Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying, I realised there was a chapter that did not sit comfortably with me, and I kept coming back to it, time and again.


It was the chapter on Gifts.


The introduction (page 127) sucked me in, it read…


...Someone important to you used precious time to pick them out and buy them for you. They are an expression of love and consideration. You can't just throw them away, right!...


Right! I booked my ticket on that bus, and I was coming along for the ride. She continues…


But let's consider this more carefully. Most of these gifts remain unopened or have been used only once. Admit it. They simply don't suit your taste. The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not ‘things’ but a means for conveying someone’s feelings. When viewed from this perspective, you don't need to feel guilty for throwing a gift away. Just thank it for the joy it gave you when you first received it. Of course, it would be ideal if you could use it with joy. But surely the person who gave it to you doesn't want you to use it out of a sense of obligation, or to put it away without using it, only to feel guilty every time you see it. When you throw it away, you do so for the sake of the giver too.


When I read that we shouldn’t “feel guilty” for throwing gifts away, I started questioning whether I was on the right bus. And reading further, “When you throw it away, you do so for the sake of the giver too.” It was then that I knew I needed to get off that bus.


Just for the moment.


While I’d been ready to pick up pretty much everything Marie Kondo had been putting down, I wasn’t ok with just tossing away gifts, willy-nilly. The idea raised so many concerns I already had, regarding overburdened landfill. And the idea that I was somehow behaving benevolently toward the giver by discarding their gift, didn’t sit well with me either, even if it was going to charity.


I was facing a catch 22 . I didn't want to throw gifts away or give them away, but I also didn't want more things in my home that I didn't like or need. I didn't want to put others in this situation either.


I knew firsthand, how quickly too much stuff in your home could tip you over the edge. Especially if life was also trying to slip you a long list of responsibilities wrapped in flimsy support and tied tightly with high expectations. Add ADHD into that mix, and that overwhelm can potentially turn into ADHD burnout before you can say “I think we need to hire a housecleaner.”


To be clear, we’re not just talking about owning too many items that are just wild’n around your home. The fallout of modern-day gifting is more insidious than that. In our current social climate of over consumption, and limited time, most of us generally buy everything we like and need ourselves, so anything over that, aka gifts, tends to be superfluous. This is how we end up with large amounts of what I call, “reminder items.” Reminders of jobs that haven’t been finished, projects that haven’t been completed, clothes that haven’t been worn or even leisure activities like books that haven’t been read or games that haven’t been played.


Constantly being reminded of unfinished actions can create stress and anxiety. Some people may

say they haven’t ever felt burdened by these thoughts, but I'd probably respond with “…Just wait”.

Whether it’s in your, 30’s, 50’s or 70’s. There is going to come a time when you look around at your life’s accumulation of stuff and wonder how you are going to manage it all. And if you are someone who doesn't have superfluous items in your house, my next question to you would be, “Where did they go?”


According to a 2022 survey on what happens to unwanted gifts conducted by Finder.com & Pureprofile 43% of people just hold on to the unwanted item, 35% regift their unwanted items and 26% exchange them. 17% Sell them. 8% Give them back. 8% throw them away. Other 2%.


Marie Kondo asks her readers not to pass on their discarded items to anyone else. The reason ... No one needs more stuff. We might think we do, but we don’t. I applaud this idea because if 35% of people are regifting, where does it end? Either in landfill or overwhelming someone who can't throw things away, most likely. I won't pretend it was easy not passing my unwanted items onto someone else but let's be honest, in my last post, I described those piles as 'consumer dung'. Was I really prepared to pass my shit onto someone else to deal with.


From this point on, I was continually trying to reconcile my understanding of the Konmarie method, with how it wasn’t a good idea to pass on your unwanted stuff to friends or family (even if we thought it was something they would like or need), but somehow it was ok to give someone a gift that we thought they might like or need, even though it appears there's a good chance they won't.


I couldn’t. Instead, I started looking into experience gifts online, but this didn’t completely satisfy me either. I’ll explain why in Part 3 of Gifting Gone Wrong: What makes a good gift?


Looking forward to hearing your thoughts so far.


You can’t wrap a smile but it’s still a gift.


Lynda xx


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