Clearing (or further clogging) the Air

Remember when I posted My Most Controversial Post Ever? Boy, was I wrong. Apparently my most controversial post was the one about my future Christmas plans. I have heard some people I love were hurt by it, which was certainly not my intent. 

Please consider and remember the following when reading this, my follow-up post (and any post I publish): Eight months ago, I buried my daughter. My perspective on nearly everything changed as a result. You don’t understand. Be thankful you don’t. Be thankful you won’t. The only way to understand is to experience it. Something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. That said, it would be so nice if people understood. 

I got an email from someone rather close to me. I’m going to paraphrase their email to protect their identity. I’m also going to paste, near verbatim, my response with some omissions, again, to protect the identity of the sender. I’m publishing it because I think it is a prime example of the chasm of misunderstanding I experience. I’m not asking anyone to understand. I’m not asking anyone to agree with me, even. But I will ask that you do not consider your perspective an adequate substitute for my reality. My Christmas post was not about anyone or anything other than us. If you took offense, there was certainly none intended. If you cross me off your list, I get it. I understand. I’m not going to apologize for what I said, though. This isn’t about where anyone thinks I should be in my life. This is about where I am. Right now. This season. This is about how I’m handling it. This is about what’s best for me and my household. No one outside of this household knows what that is better than we do.

I could have been clearer, for sure. I see how the view on my points could easily have been skewed. So while there are some things one can explain until blue in the face, people still won’t understand. That may be the case here, but I’m going to try anyway. 

Here goes.

(Paraphrase: perhaps we’re reading too much into your post.) Most likely. As is to be expected. I’ve received lots of positive feedback. I don’t want anyone to make more of it than it is. You and I (and apparently whomever you’ve been talking with) aren’t going to see eye to eye on this. And that’s fine. But know my intentions aren’t to hurt anyone. I was generalizing. We got some very meaningful gifts this year as well, and I appreciate them greatly. So do Brent and Haley. There’s a bigger picture, though, and I don’t want it to be our picture in the future.
(Paraphrase: It appears you are excluding people from your life and preferring isolation.)
I absolutely prefer isolation. It’s how I’m able to cope with the year I’ve had. If I don’t have to deal with people, it’s one less obstacle for me to have to perform for. Isolation is easier for me. My grief is compounded by the grief those close to me are experiencing as well. It’s too much for me. It’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just the way it is. I don’t expect you to understand, or anyone to understand. Will I be in this same place every year? Hopefully not. But it’s where I’m at right now.
(Paraphrase: You’re negating every gift you’ve ever been given and you’ve hurt everyone who loves you most by stating you only want certain things and will take other things back. Borderline extortion.)
That’s a bit dramatic. Negating every gift we’ve ever received? Come on now. That’s reading words that aren’t there or implied. Again – what is this about? Is this about approval of others and ourselves based on what we give or receive? My whole point is – we have too much stuff. Just stuff. I got a gift this year I’m not even sure what it is. I don’t know how to use it or wear it or whatever I’m supposed to do with it. I don’t think the person who gave it to me loves me any less – but it is now a useless item added to our inventory of stuff. Are gifts the only expression of love one can give? Why do they give the gift? Because it’s Christmas and that’s what you do? Or because they thought long and hard about what to get? There’s a difference. I’m not picking apart who gave what, and what we liked and didn’t, I’m saying Christmas has become less about the people involved and more about the products. That’s backwards. The wise men gave offerings. We give bargains. If it’s something we need (let’s say someone gets me a big skillet or a griddle for instance, since I had to throw both out recently) that’s one thing. If someone gets me a melon baller, I’m going to take it back. We don’t eat melons. I certainly don’t ball them. We don’t need one more thing we won’t use sitting in my kitchen. You have to acknowledge there’s a big difference.
(Paraphrase: this blog post inadvertently advertises you as being that which you say you don’t want to be: entitled, expectant and greedy.)
Well….this is a big difference in perspective. I’ll just agree to disagree with you here. I don’t expect anything. If you don’t know what to get me, don’t get me anything. That’s all I’m saying. I’d rather have nothing than have something that means nothing. Something that was given for the sake of saying I was given something. There is far too much emphasis being put on the gift rather than on the giver or the receiver. That’s bogus. 

This was a decision Brent and I came to after we couldn’t walk through our living room without stepping on something or around something or through something. We don’t want to be overrun with stuff. I can’t help that people have or will take it personally, but I can help in defending that it wasn’t a blog directed at anyone or as a result of any one thing.

3 Replies to “Clearing (or further clogging) the Air”

  1. This year, mostly for financial reasons, but partly because I suffer from an over abundance of junk I thought I needed…I gave a combination of repurposed and homemade gifts (2 items others had on their list were sitting unused in my house…why would I got buy a new one and still have an unused one sitting around) and people loved them. They either got what they needed (without breaking my piggy bank) or they got something that had meaning and heart.

    As I think about my future and my desire to have children, I have given more and more thought to the concept of the 3 gift rule (based on the 3 gifts from the wise men): a gift to read, a gift to wear, and a gift to play with…to keep things simple and to decrease the temptation to be overrun with "stuff".

    I applaud you and respect your life decisions.

    ~K.R.

  2. Hey Val and Brent,
    I totally understand where you are coming from. This year my girlfriends and some family members decided that we were no longer exchanging gifts going forward because the time and memories we create together is a much better gift than anything we could buy. Time is so precious. ..it's the best gift we can give each other.
    We totally understand where you are coming from.

  3. I don't know you at all, I stumbled upon your blog through a mutual friend, I've never been through grief like yours or, actually, any hardship that is that hard in life, period. But what you said (in the Christmas post) made absolute and perfect sense to me. Your words rang true and should be pondered and reflected on by all. I wish I was brave enough to say those same things to my friends/relatives, as you summed up how I feel too about the whole gift giving thing. Thank you!

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