Saturday, August 18, 2012

De-cluttering gifts from other people

You may be one of those people who can’t bear to get rid of anything that was given to you.  You might be afraid that the gift-giver would be mad if they found out that you got rid of their gift.   How can you deal with this fear?

First of all, it helps to realize a fundamental principle of ownership--once someone has given you something, it no longer belongs to them.  It now belongs to you and you can do whatever you want with it without reference to them.    That big-eyed Precious Moments figurine Aunt Martha gave you is now yours to do whatever you want with.  You are within your rights to throw it at the wall or light it on fire or bury it in the back yard or tie it to your dog’s collar or put it on your mantel or give it away. 

Now, let’s say Aunt Martha says, “I will let you borrow my Precious Moments figurine for a while,” then the case is completely different.  When you borrow something from somebody you are not allowed to do things to it that might destroy it and you are not allowed to give it away.  You have the duty to keep that figurine safe for your Aunt Martha (and hope to heaven that she relieves you of it soon ;-) ).   If you were to give away to someone else the thing you borrowed, you can definitely expect Aunt Martha (or whoever you borrowed from) to be extremely ticked and demand restitution. 

Don’t confuse the duties of borrowing as part of ownership.  If Aunt Martha has previously gotten mad at you for disposing of the gifts she has given you, realize that Aunt Martha needs a reminder of the difference between expectations of borrowing and actual possession. 

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