Gifts and Guilt

gift_whiteFill in the blank… “If I get rid of _______  that so-and-so gave me, I’ll feel guilty.”

We often feel so responsible to be good stewards of things that we’ve been given or even inherited from a loved one. Getting rid of a present feels like disrespecting the giver. But we must remember the true meaning of gifts. “When you receive a present,” says Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan (an interior designer and the founder of, “your duty is to receive it and thank the giver – not keep the gift forever.”

That goes for items you inherit. Ask yourself, “How many things do I really need to honor this person’s memory?” Start by selecting a few objects with strong associations to your late family member. Then keep them in places you’ll see and appreciate them –and don’t be afraid to use Grandmother’s china or wear your mother’s favorite ring! Let the rest go to people who need them more than you do.

Now put yourself in the giver’s shoes. When you give a gift to someone do you expect them to keep it forever? Would you be offended if they gave it away after it went out of style or even after they got tired of it and stopped using it? I would hope not. You would never want your gift to ever become a guilty burden.And if you ever passed away, would you want your loved ones to drown in all your possessions? Particularly the things that may not have even been very special to you in the first place?

Free yourself from the guilt, let go of those many gifts that you don’t like or even use anymore. I’m sure so-and-so will understand!

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