Gifts are such a psychological conundrum. For over a decade I’ve been helping people “declutter” years (sometimes decades) of gift accumulation in clients’ homes. And why do most people feel guilty about refining their lifetime or house full of gift “collections”… guilt and fear?

We all connect gift-giving and receiving as a vehicle of love, appreciation, and thoughtfulness and many use it as a tool for relationship building. Giving gifts is one of The Five Love Languages, says author Gary Chapman. And in the month of December, it’s everyone’s love language.

Now if we could all just shift our perspective from the “stuff” given, to the intention of the giver, we’d be more emotionally contented and less cluttered. What do I mean? I mean that people give you gifts to say they care for you, are thinking of you, they might even be saying thank you. By giving you a gift they want you to know you are in their thoughts and you are special. Please do not think that the gift giver is exhorting, “You need to hold on to this item and treasure it for the rest of your life because if you don’t, you will forget me and it means you have severed our relationship.”

That’s not the kind of emotions and feelings a gift should bring to our psyches and I hope a living human being didn’t ever speak these words to you. If they did, it is a real shame. And if this is what you might have inferred, please let me help you know that no person wants you to feel anguish over letting go of “the thing” when it comes to their gifts.

I remember one of my first moving clients. We were packing up her china closet and I showed her a Winner the Pooh figurine. She looked at it, sighed deeply, her face and tone dropped and said, “I need to keep that. My mother-in-law gave it to me, but I really hate it.” I asked her if her mother-in-law would go looking for it in her new house and if she really wanted to pay a mover to move it. She said no. Then I asked her, “Do you feel she gave this to you so you’d have to deal with anxious feelings over a trinket that is not your style? Do you think you’d both feel better giving this to someone who would appreciate it and find it beautiful?” I’ll let you guess her final decision about Winnie.

Please don’t keep things that cause the opposite of joy. This is the month of joy. Only keep things in your haven that bring your mind loving thoughts. Take a photo and pass it on or simply pass it on.

“Remember the Thought, Not the Thing” ~ JM Herron