Looks like this topic will definitely need more than 3 parts, as I originally thought!
Hand-me-downs. We’ve all gotten them at some point either from an older sibling, close friend or parent that “outgrew” whatever it might be. Clothing is the most common, I suppose. Sometimes it’s furniture or cookware. Feng Shui is all about renewing what already exists, so you can say that hand-me-downs are “good Feng Shui”. The exception is when it is handed down and then unused, unusable or unwanted. I’ve indicated in a previous post that giving away or donating an item that is in any way damaged beyond reasonable repair or broken you are creating negative karma for yourself. The same holds true for hand-me-downs. On the receiving end, if you don’t want it please don’t keep it. Keeping something unwanted – that is, you don’t love it or need it – creates clutter. It’s a cruel, vicious cycle!
This is a problem often encountered with inherited items and gifts. You’ve inherited your Aunt Rita’s antique armoire and you don’t love it or need it. You feel you have to keep it – of course! It’s from Aunt Rita! She wanted you-specifically to have it! Aunt Rita probably didn’t realize when she chose YOU for it that you might think it was dreadful and not want that old, Victorian piece in your modern/contemporary home. She thought she was being thoughtful, passing along a part of herself to her heirs. Its sweet, don’t you think? It was a gesture chock full of good intention. Had she known though that you wouldn’t want it, wouldn’t she have given it to someone else? She was a reasonable lady, I think so.
So don’t feel bad about calling up a cousin that might want that piece and arranging to have it delivered to their house – if they want it that is – remember we don’t want to continue the cycle of unwanted endowments. This way, it stays in the family but you don’t have to keep it. Win-win.
There is also nothing wrong with unloading it if nobody in the family wants it. Sell it! Donate it! It will make someone else happy, and that’s really all Aunt Rita wanted in the first place, right? (of course – check it’s value with others like it online first, and/or ask an expert if you feel it is valuable).
Gifts are another kind of clutter problem. My friend Amy’s grandmother will simply tell you as soon as she’s opened her Christmas gift from you “I don’t need this, take it back”. What a bold woman! Perhaps Grandma knew Feng Shui? We can’t all get away with that though. Somehow we need to make the Want It/Need It rules apply to gifts without offending anyone.
My dad received a huge, blue crystal bowl as a housewarming gift when he moved to his current home. He didn’t like it, didn’t know where to put it, totally didn’t appreciate the free-form design of it. So off to the garage it went with the name CARLA written clearly on the box. He made sure that any time his cousin Carla came over, he took that bowl back out, as if it had been on display all along. This is ridiculous! We shouldn’t have to live like that! It just so happens that I loved that bowl, and begged my dad for it – not only because I wanted it (in Feng Shui terms it represents earth and water – perfect in the east sector of my dining room) but also because I didn’t want him keeping something that was just “stuff” to him. Easy fix. The next time cousin Carla came over I told her I wanted it so Dad let me have it, and now it graces the top shelf of my china cabinet. She was thrilled! Thank goodness. That one could have gone either way.
My sister and I avoid the problem of unwanted gifts altogether with gift cards. Usually Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks. I know she likes coffee, she knows I like it. Easy. Maybe make an arrangement like that with those whom you give and receive.
Gag gifts are kind of funny (pun intended). I’m not at all implying not to buy them – who doesn’t need a good laugh? I’m just saying you should not be offended when it isn’t a life-long keeper. It’s like buying balloons. Sure they are pretty, festive and make people happy, but they won’t float forever. Eventually they’ve got to go, and often popping them is the best part!
As the giver, be considerate of people’s space, their interests and style. Don’t start (or continue) the cycle for them by putting them in the position of having unnecessary clutter in their house. It’s not good for either of you.
Coming Soon: Feng Shui Basics: Clutter! Part 4 – What clutter in specific rooms mean and using the bagua to help de-clutter.