Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom
You can’t push a string…
Different people have different styles, styles of gift giving being no exception. In my family, specific (extremely specific) gift requests aren’t considered out of line. In my husband’s family, many gifts, all surprises, are the norm. Well, we all know what happens when people you rarely see or talk to give you “surprise” gifts, right?
It took me years of interacting with my in-laws before I realized that I could not control them, I could only control myself. (Some very obvious lessons are nonetheless hard to learn.) I started announcing in November that we would only be giving to charity, or that we would be giving only homemade gifts, or that we would only give food gifts. That way they knew what to expect from us and could chose to match our smaller gifts, or not, but they surely wouldn’t be surprised. Over time, everyone has decreased their giving. Last year, each of the girls received a gift from their Aunt and Uncle, and my husband and I received a lovely box of chocolates. That was all, and it was perfect. My in-laws took the girls to the mall and bought them two gifts each. This worked for everyone because the grandparents knew they were getting something the children wanted and because the girls don’t go to the mall often (and certainly never with the grandparents, who live far away), so it was a big treat for everyone, even for Dan and I who got a few hours alone.
So how should you handle people who give differently than you would like to receive?
- If it’s grandparents wanting to load up the kids, make your boundaries clear. You are the parent. Say, “No more than X gifts.” Or “She wants a X, but I don’t think it’s appropriate, so please do not purchase it for her.”
- Or (one I used) “Do not buy any little plastic crap.” Yeah, maybe I should have said it nicer, but all those cute little impulse items are here one minute and gone the next – a waste of money and resources.
- If it’s your girlfriends, suggest a meal out together or a trip to get your toes painted or something else that is fun and not material.
- If it’s your family, suggest drawing names so that you only have to give a gift or two.
I think the biggest key is..
- If you’re changing your usual pattern, let those who will be affected know in advance. Now is not too soon. That gives them time to adjust too, and
- Remember that you can not change other people, you can only change yourself.
You can’t push and string, but you can pull it.
Today’s Declutter Item
Oh, if only making Christmas uncomplicated was as simple as pressing the Easy Button. Well you know what it isn’t that much harder, all you have to do is convince yourself and lay down as little ground work like Cindy suggests above. This button was a silly fundraising gimmick from Staple office supplies years ago and I must admit we did have fun with it for a while but it is now being passed on to a friend who also found it amusing.
Something I Am Grateful For Today
I bought a nice little summer dress at the thrift store last week for $4 even though it was slightly too big. Today I used the skills my mother taught me and took it in on the side seams. The dress now fits perfectly and I am so pleased. I love it when you need something and it materialises, inexpensively and sustainably.
“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast