Donations vs. Gifts

Who doesn’t like gifts – all sorts of gifts, pile them on please!  Lately however I have come to the realization that I have become a blind consumer.  Easily just hoarding and keeping things that, if I really think about it have no consequence in my life.  If I keep them for another 5 years I would unlikely be using them in any sort of way – or even if I did, if I were to give them up would I really miss them?  Psychologically I have actually begun to minimalize my life, the less I have the less clutter I feel and overwhelming sense of things among things piling up in my house – my wife isn’t there yet, but I hope she comes to the same realization soon, her stuff is gradually taking over my space too! 

I feel physical anxiety when I walk into a clutter, and knowing that “stuff” is the source of my irritability (well some of it anyway) has been very interesting.  I also have a consistent sense of guilt if I don’t use everything I own. I feel like if I have it I should find the time to use it, whether it’s a violin standing in the corner that I left for a while, a canvas still it’s plastic wrap I was meant to paint on, or even some of my clothes hoping for the ideal weight someday (despite the fact that if I were to loose weight, my fashion sense has completely changed, so I still wouldn’t wear it if I’m being honest with myself).

I’ve also come to the realization that I have a while bunch of caring family and friends, and they are just as frustrated in thinking up things to get me as I would be.  I know buying gifts to men is a hassle, I have the same issue with my brother, but even more so to men or people in general who want to reduce their clutter (I know some women do as well).  So lately I have opted to ask people to donate to charity for my events instead (whether it’s Father’s Day, Birthday, and even Valentine’s day, although that last one still takes some convincing to my wife).  I used to find the concept of gifting donations instead of things as pretentious or for those who want to prove something.  But it solves so many problems, not to mention problems the chosen charity is meant to solve. 

Choosing a charity for people to donate to, whether the same one each time or a different one for different occasions not only gives you a sense of community and social belonging, it also helps ease the mind of those wanting to show their love for you on special occasions.  I tried doing this once and then twice a year, and found it to be the best decision.  I also found it help reduce my clutter anxiety and guilt for not using every gift I have.  I do keep some random gifts once in a while, especially for those who don’t ask and buy me gifts anyway.  But I quickly re-wrap them, put a post it note on them to know who got me the gift so I don’t risk giving it back to them, and re-gift them as soon as I can.  In worst cases I done the wrapped box during Christmas drives if I find that there are no occasions to re-gift them.

It’s not for everyone, but if you find yourself intrigued by the concept, try it once and you’ll see how great it feels n so many levels and for so many people.  If you have kids, you get the bonus of teaching your kids about charity directly when they inevitably ask you about your birthday and Christmas gifts.

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