A very British kind of Minimalism
A lot of the reading I do about Minimalism is written by Americans, and I often find myself thinking it isn't really very British. We are such a polite, rule abiding people. We all know that when Great Aunt Muriel gives you a hideous vase on your Wedding Day, that not only will you keep that vase for the rest of your life but you will be buried with it too. I jest, but it doesn't feel too far removed from some of the ideas us Brits have about our stuff.
I have lost count of the conversations I have had with people who would love to get rid of various items in their homes but they truly believe they can not because of how they came to own said item.
Mother-in-Laws seem to be the worst perpetrators of this British gift giving guilt trip ;)
One of the most valuable lessons I have learnt on my Minimalism journey is how to part with gifts. The line I tell myself repeatedly (whilst Great Aunt Muriel turns in her grave) is that people do not want to give the gift of guilt. Whilst we might believe that said relative or friend really did intend for us to keep their gift for the rest of our days, the reality is they probably just wanted to show you a little love. If you think of a gift you have bought for someone in the past, have you really expected the recipient to keep it forever? It probably isn't something you've thought about. It's the same with anyone who has gifted items to you.
Would you ever buy someone a gift if you knew it was a burden? Or too time consuming to care for? Or it was neither wanted nor needed? Or the person simply did not have space for the item? Of course you wouldn't. So why would anyone expect you to keep something they bought you in the past if it now meets one of those criteria?
They simply wouldn't want that. No one would want to give that "gift." (Mother-in-Law's excluded.)
It's time to take your home more seriously, it is your space and yours alone. Do not fill it with things that make other people happy, but not you. Forget your Britishness during your next clear out and ditch the items that no longer add value, give away the hideous china that fulfils a perceived obligation whilst simultaneously gathering dust. Chances are Great Aunt Muriel won't be coming round with a checklist anytime soon.
If you're the "Great Aunt Muriel" in this scenario and something inside of you gets riled up when that item you so lovingly gifted is no longer taking centre stage in the recipients home, I would say this to you; the most valuable gift you can ever give to a loved one is your time. You are appreciated and loved, partaking in a gift giving ritual based on guilt and obligation is really not required. I understand that you are just trying to say "I Love You" but it is just stuff, we can not take it with us. We are no longer children, we do not need to be surprised, it will not hurt anyone to simply ask before giving "Do you want this?" And if the answer is no that is ok too; we are no longer teenagers, we are not trying to upset you.
There is more than one way to say I love you.
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