Wednesday, October 24, 2012

This is the stuff that drives me crazy….song by FrancescaBatttistelli.  Love this song, even though the word “stuff” in a song seems weird…

Stuff.  How much is enough?  I got in a great discussion with my Dad this week (he’s really good at discussions, and will often linger on a topic long after you are finished with it).  I shared about teaching my kids generosity.  This means they can choose to give away their gifts. 
“Any gift?”  my dad asks. 
“Well, I suppose I reserve the right to say No, but a gift is a gift.  If they want to bless someone with it, I don’t want to deprive them of that.”
“But what if it’s valuable?”
“All gifts have value,” I countered.  "I give gifts to the people I love because I love them and I want them to enjoy something.  But once I give it, it doesn’t belong to me anymore.”
My dad was thinking, I could tell.  He spoke after almost a full thirty seconds, “I mean, what if it’s a collectable or something?”
This reminded me of a story.  I told my Dad of the woman I observed at a garage sale.  She was picking up all these Precious Moments figurines and angrily carrying them out to her car.  “Can you believe it?” she was saying, “I gave these to my daughter and she wants to sell them for $3.00 each.” The woman was very angry.  So I asked my Dad, “Did she have a right to be angry?”
“Of course,” said my Dad, “those are worth money.”
“But they were gifts, Dad,” I said, “not investments.”
“Well,” he said, “some gifts you just have to keep.”
“Then they aren’t gifts,” I concluded.
I could tell he was really thinking this one over. 
I added one last thought.  “Shouldn’t a gift be something you give someone and then they choose what to do with it?  They can put it in a box for twenty years or display it or toss it next week.  It’s only stuff, right?  I gave it because I love them, not to get anything back.”
He was still thinking.
Why do we “give” with strings attached?  Why are some people bothered if their grand-daughter never wears that nice sun dress or your aunt keeps that nice planter in the garage, of all places?  Have we truly given a gift?  Were we truly generous?  What about when we give other gifts—time, money, food?  Do we want for our thank-you card?  I want my kids to be generous.  How do I communicate that?
So, tonight I read my friend’s blog about giving away her possessions, 12 things a day or 84 items in a week.  Although it sounds tough, it turned out to be surprisingly easy for her.  I vaguely wondered how many of those things were gifts…like my dad, I am still thinking.

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