Gifts with Strings Attached.

Wednesday March 7, 2018

I've probably mentioned that my mother is moving –

Oh, four and a half times? Are you sure? Right.

So, she has now moved out of her large house into a small one-bedroom apartment. She moved last Wednesday, in thick snow; the removal men slipping and sliding as they brought in boxes and furniture.

There's not much room in my mother's new home. Certainly not enough room for all the things she wants to keep.

She was going through one of her drawers to find more space. "I can't give that away," she said. "Muriel gave it to me. You remember Muriel, don't you? We went to see her when you were a little girl. She kept wire-haired fox terriers and had a son a little younger than you."

No, I don't remember Muriel, but I stay quiet.

"And Juliet gave me this and Pamela gave me that."

She keeps these things as reminders of her friendships in the past and as an anchorage to her now.

I went back to my own home determined never to do this to my children; determined to rid myself of all emotional clutter; those physical things which have no meaning to anyone but me, but which, one day, they will be forced to go through.

But I too keep gifts. I keep gifts because I am afraid the giver will come back to me and say, "Have you read that book I gave you?", "Where did you put that little glass dish?"; "Have you done that craft project yet?" I couldn't possibly cause hurt by saying, "I didn't want your gift, so I threw it away."

I fear they will feel rejected along with that gift.

A friend of mine is wise. When she gives something, it is without strings. Once it has left her possession it ceases to have anything to do with her; it is the property of the recipient to do with exactly as they choose. She said, "If I care what becomes of it then I should keep it, or at least ensure that it goes to someone who will honestly treasure it. The gift is in the exchange. After that, the item stands on its own merits."

In her family, they only give consumables. Flowers, edibles, toiletries.

But some people see it differently. They wish to retain a sense of ownership over the gifts they a have given; they surround the gift with expectations and those expectations can metamorphose into guilt. Gifts can be a way of controlling the recipient.

When a romantic relationship ends, there is a good reason why you should return all the gifts you were given. It cuts you free. Those gifts contain hooks and traps to draw you back. They hold memories like cobwebs to snare you, catch you and hold you fast, so you cannot escape and move on.

Gifts can be a terrible thing.

So, let's give without strings, and rid ourselves of any gifts containing guilt.

A Moodscope member.

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