People in our lives show their love for us in different ways. Some feel more comfortable showing their love through giving compliments, while others give hugs or gentle squeezes, still others may show their love for you through acts of kindness or gift giving. The commonality between each of these is that the individual wants to ‘give’ you something. Something from themselves to express how much you mean to them. It seems to be an innate feeling we all possess as human beings.
During the holidays, if you have adopted a minimalist lifestyle, it can be difficult when you have family and friends who don’t understand or appreciate your feelings towards not accumulating physical items, especially if their preferred way of showing love is through giving physical gifts. It could even cause some hard feelings and resentment to surface. What do you do when well-meaning family and friends disregard your feelings towards receiving physical gifts and insist on giving you things that you don’t really want, or need?
-Whenever possible, keep an open dialog before Christmas or other celebrations so those closest to you are well aware of your feelings, and alternative gifts they could give that you would enjoy such as experiences.
-Provide a list if asked. Generally, I am against providing any kind of gift list to anyone, or asking for lists for that matter. However, if you are trying to live a minimalist lifestyle, and those around you are trying to understand and help you do so, then do provide a list of possible examples of minimalist gifts you would enjoy if they ask for one.
-Always accept their gift and show appreciation for them taking the time to think of you. Even if you end up receiving an item that you know is not well suited for you or your home, always show gratitude for the non-material aspects of the gift, such as the fact that they used their time to shop for it, were thinking of you and care enough about you to give you something.
-Remember that nothing is permanent. If you do end up receiving gifts that have no place in your life, don’t be afraid to use them, display them or wear them, even briefly. Then allow them to move on to a new home with someone who will use the item regularly and give it the amount of use it was made for. Take a picture if need be to show the individual who gifted it to you that you did indeed enjoy their thoughtfulness.
-Show non-minimalists the same respect in gift giving. Just because someone is not striving to live a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t mean you should grab anything on the stocking stuffer aisle and give it to them for Christmas. If you are purchasing a gift for someone, take the same care you would hope they would spend when trying to find a gift that would fit in your life. Don’t buy something they won’t use or really want.
Each of us is different in our expressions of love, and during the holidays that love tends to be expressed more often than not through tangible gift giving. Appreciate the givers in your life and remember their underlying reasons for giving you a gift to begin with: love.