Part 7 in my Series on Giving and Forgiving
You can also read Part 1: Deck the Halls with PsychoAnal Gifts, Part 2: The Spirit of Giving and Forgiving, Part 3: Balancing the Four Rooms, Part 4: The Candy Cane Crux, and Part 5: Why I Don’t Believe in Santa Claus, and Part 6: A Parenting Carol: Being A Ghost Story of Christmas.
This jolly old elf is responsible for the crime of calling attention to a major problem in my home.
I was almost through wrapping presents when I began feeling slightly ill. There was so much stuff! How were my kids going to deal with so many things? I don’t know how many gifts are too many, but somewhere during the wrapping, I crossed that line.
More stuff was coming into my already overstuffed house. And once something comes into my house, the odds are good that it will stay.
If the item is for my husband, it stays. He keeps everything. I don’t judge him for that. He kept everything when I met him and he still has everything all these years later. I’m sure his junior high girl friend would be pleased to know he still has the notes she passed to him in class. Every computer he has ever owned is in our garage. Ski boots that are too small have accompanied us over four moves, and he doesn’t even ski. I managed to pass on those ski boots, but it took him 10 years to let them go.
If the items coming into the house are for the kids, they most likely fit well into my weak spot: educational play. The possibilities for learning and fun are enough for me to keep the toy. It doesn’t matter whether they have no interest in it or if it is a marginally different repeat of one we already have. The mere possibility that the kids might enjoy and learn gives it a home. I can always justify it for when they kids get bigger or because they each have different personalities, perhaps one would take to it better. I’ve got a million rationalizations, but the truth is a bit deeper.
If the gifts are for me, however, I can downsize without much effort. I used to have a problem with holding on to things, but I went through a semi-obsessed purge after losing my daughter. Since then, I am more detached from objects. Apparently, this is not uncommon after a loss. I remember my midwife saying that she has seen many mothers include their partners in the purge. While I kept my purge to inanimate objects, I can see how easy it would be to toss relationships while in that mindset after a loss. My hold on reality was tenuous. I was directly confronting the transience of objects and of existence. There were no possibilities or future for me, I existed in the present. But, not in a good way.
I think this flirtation with death is part of why I have trouble letting go of the toys for the kids, too. I can’t face the possibility of their impermanence. I balk at detachment to their bright futures. Their things are tangible representations for me of their futures.vAnd, possibly, through them my own mortality can be hidden from me.
I’m staring at Saint Nick and seeing the grim reaper.
And that’s where I think the entire winter season of holidays and observances is rooted. It’s human nature to fear the dark and trust the light. The longest night also heralds the return of more light. Neither is permanent. Each is a balance. Impermanence and inevitability. Staying attached to either won’t create anything but suffering. Light and dark will change whether I hold on to one of them anyway. Death and life are natural, but not something we enjoy thinking about all of the time.
The possibilities of impermanence are still far more palatable to me than remaining static and unchanging, even if it means facing immortality.
When I look at gifts as a representation of possibility, they also seem to be an affirmation of life. I believe it is this, slightly misplaced, ideal that we hold when we give too much and hold onto it all. And the converse can be true when we feel we don’t deserve joy or life, when we can’t receive or hold onto gifts that are given to us.
What do you think about the symbology of gifts as potential joy and wishes for life? Can you give too many gifts when viewed this way? Do you have trouble getting rid of, or the opposite, holding onto everything that is given to you?
Remember, anonymous comments are always welcome. I’d love to hear from you.
- Questions from Part 1: Have you ever been charged for receiving a gift? Do you have expectations when you give to someone else?
- Questions from Part 2: Do you feel that giving and receiving freely is important or is a gift a gift? What do you think about the concept that giving objects are a representation of the feelings inside?
- Questions from Part 3: Do you visit the four rooms of your house? Are there any areas you need to offer the key of self-forgiveness before you unlock them?
- Questions from Part 4: How do you handle candy in your family? Is giving candy in a separate category from giving gifts? Why or why not?
- Questions from Part 5: How do you reconcile the idea of Santa Claus with your worldview? Do you treat the magic of childhood as something intertwined with the spirit of giving and forgiving?
- Questions from Part 6: If you were visited by the ghosts of parenting past, present and future, what would your visits look like? Would you see joy and pain in the past? How does that inform your present? And how do you think it will affect your children’s future relationship with you?
I hope you will feel moved to respond, especially on your own blog or here, as a guest post. I’ll happily share responses that add to this interesting discussion.
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Image Credit: Kevin Dooley on Flickr
- A Parenting Carol: Being A Ghost Story of Christmas (touchstonez.com)
- Why I Don’t Believe in Santa Claus (touchstonez.com)
- The Candy Cane Crux (touchstonez.com)
- Deck the Halls with Psychoanal Gifts (touchstonez.com)
- The Spirit of Giving and Forgiving (touchstonez.com)
- Balancing the Four Rooms (touchstonez.com)
- Guest Post: The Key to Everything (touchstonez.com)
- When the Chitta Hits the Fan (touchstonez.com)
- Giving from the Heart (vibrantwanderings.com)
- Family Traditions: To Santa or Not to Santa (naturalparentsnetwork.com)
- What’s Not Ok? (A Self-Forgiveness Post) (itsokblog.com)
- Yama, Niyama and the Red Pajama Mama (naturalparentsnetwork.com)
- Further proof that children are socially cooperative creatures (hobomama.com)
- More on the Culture of More(angelbabyjazzymama.blogspot.com)
- Do your children own anything? (demandeuphoria.blogspot.com)