So What Do You Do, Gulp, When It’s Not Your Style?

There it is. That carefully crafted gift from a relative. It might be from a grandma with arthritic fingers who spent months hand sewing each quilt square. Or maybe from a young nephew who used popsicle sticks and paint to recreate a favorite memory of a trip you shared. Or perhaps it is a beautiful piece of pottery from a cousin who is an accomplished potter. There it is – a little piece of their soul and their affection for you. And you – well – you are already trying to figure out how to make it disappear. Because, you know, it’s not your style.

There is something truly special, intimate and generous about a hand made gift. A little work of personal expression lovingly crafted and delivered. This is what art looks like on your kitchen table – intentional expressions of love. For a few moments, at least, their expression of self outshines your expression of self. And this is not an easy cohabitation.

Parents go through these dilemmas often. Perhaps the love note is posted on the fridge for a while, then its slipped into a drawer – then – with the distance of time – the wrinkled gift gets thrown out with a bunch of other ‘stuff.’ Time can blunt the feelings of guilt. In the trash it goes.

And it’s okay. Of course we can appreciate the effort and sentiment and not feel obliged to publish it – to put it on our coffee tables for all to see. The real tug comes when we hold these gifts in our hands, for it’s then that something very special, perhaps even magical, can happen. These articles are bridges. Holding them is like holding the maker’s best wishes and intentions. Holding them is putting our hands where their hands have been. Perhaps even their breath is somehow still present. No credit cards involved with classy wrappers. No, these gifts are carriers of human nature – physical and emotional. It’s all right there – in our hands.

We all curate our lives differently. It is our creative act. Sometimes we treat these gifts as treasures – and they get places of honor. Sometimes we hold them dear – and private. And some, well some might find their way into a Goodwill box for someone else to enjoy. And that is okay. The original crafter felt their own agency in the world and reveled in their feelings as they made the gift. You have been touched by their expressions of love and have felt your own agency in the world. You have both made a difference.

Now, let’s do it again – and again.

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