Author Topic: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site  (Read 6870 times)

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CakeEater

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2013, 11:18:31 PM »
I think part of the problem is that people attach sentimental value to their own belongings that no-one else does or can. My grandmother has moved to a nursing home, so is clearing our her house, and wanted me to take a huge box of assorted wine glasses home. They were mostly souvenir glasses from various places she'd visited, but they certainly meant nothing to me.

I think sometimes people have sadness or guilt or regret at needing to get rid of things they can no longer use, so they want someone they know to value the things like they do, so the sadness/guilt/whatever is relieved.

You're not responsible for that, so feel free to refuse any extra stuff, or take the whole bag and dump it.

Luci

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2013, 11:57:26 PM »
My children and grandchildren seem to have no interest in my china. I use it about five times a year now, and used to make a big deal out of washing it by hand.

I used it for New Year's dinner today, and my friend was surprised that I put it into the dishwasher. I pointed out that I don't use the heat drying cycle and that I use liquid detergent. I haven't seen any deterioration about the 3 years I have been doing this.

My daughter needed a mixing bowl and I found one of the 1950s Pyrex bowls that was my mother's. I nearly cried watching her use it (my mother died when Daughter was 3 months old, in 1969), but didn't say anything.

I still pray that I can remember not to impose my emotions onto our children and grandchildren and let them make their own choices. I am often surprised at what means something to them.

Darn! It's hard.

CakeEater

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2013, 12:13:38 AM »
My children and grandchildren seem to have no interest in my china. I use it about five times a year now, and used to make a big deal out of washing it by hand.

I used it for New Year's dinner today, and my friend was surprised that I put it into the dishwasher. I pointed out that I don't use the heat drying cycle and that I use liquid detergent. I haven't seen any deterioration about the 3 years I have been doing this.

My daughter needed a mixing bowl and I found one of the 1950s Pyrex bowls that was my mother's. I nearly cried watching her use it (my mother died when Daughter was 3 months old, in 1969), but didn't say anything.

I still pray that I can remember not to impose my emotions onto our children and grandchildren and let them make their own choices. I am often surprised at what means something to them.

Darn! It's hard.

I did accept with gratitude a set of measuring spoons that had come from my grandfather's mother. I really like having that because we always went to their house for Sunday lunch when she would use it - she was a good cook, I like cooking - there's a connection for me.

There's jewellery she's agonising about which grand-daughter should have, and although it's valuable, I really dont have any connection to it, so makes no difference if I get it or not.

PeterM

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2013, 12:31:39 AM »
One afternoon, I heard someone banging and clanging up the porch steps.  Then the doorbell rings.  It was our neighbor.  She brought an almost lifesize stuffed pony for the children.  She said, "I have something for you - you probably don't want it. Maybe I should have called before I brought it over."  I, like the OP, was born in a household where you're always gracious and without a spine - I had no words for this woman.  Now we have this dopey, huge pony and I have no idea how to get it out of the house without her seeing it in the trash.

I think in this, as in so many areas of life, you should look to the movie "Animal House" for guidance. What you need is a chainsaw. A fair bit of muss and fuss, granted, but no suspiciously pony-shaped garbage bags to give you away.

mbbored

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2013, 01:01:03 AM »
I think part of the problem is that people attach sentimental value to their own belongings that no-one else does or can. My grandmother has moved to a nursing home, so is clearing our her house, and wanted me to take a huge box of assorted wine glasses home. They were mostly souvenir glasses from various places she'd visited, but they certainly meant nothing to me.

I think sometimes people have sadness or guilt or regret at needing to get rid of things they can no longer use, so they want someone they know to value the things like they do, so the sadness/guilt/whatever is relieved.

You're not responsible for that, so feel free to refuse any extra stuff, or take the whole bag and dump it.

I had this conversation with my mother over the holidays. She's inherited china from her mother, her aunt and her grandmother, on top of having her own sets (Christmas and regular). She wants to give me a few sets, but I live in a small place with my own every day dishes and one set of fine china given to me by my paternal grandmother. What am I going to do with more? I offered to arrange to sell a few sets through an antique shop, but no, she wants ME to have it.

blarg314

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2013, 01:28:23 AM »

The different between generosity and landfill depends on whether the person asks you if you want the stuff, and if they are willing to take no for an answer.

And if you give stuff to someone, the only acceptable strings to attach are "If you don't want it anymore, please give it back to me" or "Please see if someone else in the family wants it (and is willing to pay shipping to get it) before selling it or giving it away". This would primarily cover things like family heirlooms, or stuff of genuine sentimental value. And if the original recipient can't take it back, or no-one in the family is willing to take it, then the current owner does get to sell it or give it away.

And if someone dumps stuff on your porch without asking first, you're free to throw it out, re-sell it to make a profit or dump it back on the porch of the donor without warning. It's also worth telling the person firmly and directly that you appreciate the thought, but you don't need any extra stuff.

The sentimental value thing is a tricky one to deal with, though. My mom helped her parents move from a three bedroom house with extensive basement to a two bedroom retirement home. They had the accumulation of stuff you might expect from over 50 years of married life and five kids.  My grandmother didn't want to get rid of anything, and liked to stop and reminisce over ever second item, which drove my mom up the wall as she had travelled cross country to do this and had limited time. As a result, my Mom is very good about not saving tons of stuff that she doesn't want or need any more, and keeping things organized so that when we need to help her, or go through her possessions, there will be a minimum of work.

CakeEater

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2013, 01:42:34 AM »
I think part of the problem is that people attach sentimental value to their own belongings that no-one else does or can. My grandmother has moved to a nursing home, so is clearing our her house, and wanted me to take a huge box of assorted wine glasses home. They were mostly souvenir glasses from various places she'd visited, but they certainly meant nothing to me.

I think sometimes people have sadness or guilt or regret at needing to get rid of things they can no longer use, so they want someone they know to value the things like they do, so the sadness/guilt/whatever is relieved.

You're not responsible for that, so feel free to refuse any extra stuff, or take the whole bag and dump it.

I had this conversation with my mother over the holidays. She's inherited china from her mother, her aunt and her grandmother, on top of having her own sets (Christmas and regular). She wants to give me a few sets, but I live in a small place with my own every day dishes and one set of fine china given to me by my paternal grandmother. What am I going to do with more? I offered to arrange to sell a few sets through an antique shop, but no, she wants ME to have it.

I know - I have plenty of wine glasses of my own, and if I wanted more, I wouldn't want ones with "[European city I've never been to] Tour 1975" on them, no matter how much my granparents enjoyed that trip.

Talley

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #22 on: January 02, 2013, 04:38:25 AM »
When DH and I first bought our house, we didn't have a lot of stuff. Some relatives took this as an invitation to empty out their attics and bring us things. At first, this was appreciated - we got some things that we could use until we could buy the ones we wanted/safe up for what we wanted - but then it got out of hand. Luckily we were living pretty far away, so they could only bring what fit into their car, so no large furniture...

At one point, our relatives visited and brought us
- four boxes of empty mustard glasses - they look like tumblers and are quite nice, really, but each box contained 25 of them!
- assorted microwave dishes - when I had gotten rid of the microwave to have more counter space (I hardly ever used the microwave)
- a pressure cooker, after I had told them that I didn't have one because I didn't need one
- three sets of cutlery - they had already given us a set the last time, pluse we had our own already
- some other stuff that I don't even remember

When we asked them why they had brought us all of these things, they told us that they didn't have space in the attic anymore and thought that we could use them - or we could just put them into our attic.  ??? Well, we made them take the microwave dishes and two sets of cutlery back, and the next time we visited, we brought them the pressure cooker back, too. They tried a couple more times to bring us things, which we declined each time. Arguments that we could just put the stuff in the attic, were met with, "We don't have space in the attc left." It took a while, but the message sunk in.

Now, these relatives are lovely people and very generous. They were just raised to never throw things out because they might still be useful, so they keep everything. And when they finally run out of storage space, they don't want to throw things out but instead try to pass them on to family and friends. We always decline their offers now, and they don't pressure us anymore.


Slartibartfast

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2013, 04:44:03 AM »
My neighbor, who is a big garage sale shopper frequently drops off items of clothing, bags of toys, and even furniture at our doorstep - usually without even letting me know.  I just open the door, or come home to a pile of unwanted items on our porch.  One afternoon, I heard someone banging and clanging up the porch steps.  Then the doorbell rings.  It was our neighbor.  She brought an almost lifesize stuffed pony for the children.  She said, "I have something for you - you probably don't want it. Maybe I should have called before I brought it over."  I, like the OP, was born in a household where you're always gracious and without a spine - I had no words for this woman.  Now we have this dopey, huge pony and I have no idea how to get it out of the house without her seeing it in the trash.

Recently, she brought over a canopy bed for our daughter (who's still in a crib).   The bed is nice, but not at all our taste or in keeping with the "theme" of our home which is antiques.  Our neighbor literally left this bed and all it's piece on our porch one afternoon.  She doesn't want it - but neither do we.  Since it was given to us and essentially abandoned on our porch, does this mean we're able to  do with it what we please?  Like sell it to a consignment shop? 

I'm sorry if I hijacked your thread.  This is a topic that definitely hit home!

This is what Freecycle is for, if you have a group near you!  I give away quite a few things, and a lot of them are bits and pieces we've acquired through from DH's grandmother via FIL.  Grandma has a bunch of rental properties (trailer parks, mostly) and renters often up and leave without taking their stuff.  Grandma hates throwing anything away or giving it to charity when she could give it to her favorite charity (us, apparently), so she sends tons of toys and clothes to us through FIL.  MIL is usually pretty good about intercepting the boxes and taking the nastier ones to Goodwill before we ever see them, but I refuse to accept about 2/3 of the remainder anyway.  FIL used to get his nose out of joint that we were refusing his mother's "gifts" but MIL pointed out how several of the things are flat-out dangerous (metal toy trucks, baby gear that hasn't been available for sale for decades because it's been recalled) and he's finally stopped grousing about it.

Raintree

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2013, 04:48:22 AM »
My mom helped her parents move from a three bedroom house with extensive basement to a two bedroom retirement home. They had the accumulation of stuff you might expect from over 50 years of married life and five kids.  My grandmother didn't want to get rid of anything, and liked to stop and reminisce over ever second item, which drove my mom up the wall as she had travelled cross country to do this and had limited time. As a result, my Mom is very good about not saving tons of stuff that she doesn't want or need any more, and keeping things organized so that when we need to help her, or go through her possessions, there will be a minimum of work.

I just helped my Dad do exactly the same thing - it was brutal. He claimed to want to get rid of "stuff" but when I asked him about any one item (that I knew he hadn't used or worn in decades) he wouldn't let me throw it out. I had to go behind his back, and in most places what the eye don't see, the heart don't grieve over. He'd have forgotten he had it unless I showed it to him and asked.

As for the OP, it reminded me of when I got my first apartment. I had enough stuff. Some I'd bought myself, some my mother had given me. But my boyfriend's mother then decided she wanted to give me stuff, EVERY time I went over to her house. One day I said no thank you, I had enough stuff and nowhere to keep all this stuff she wanted to give me, and she was really offended. What can you do though?

Amazing how we become so overwhelmed by accumulated stuff that people are desperate to find someone else to take it. First world problems!!

CatFanatic

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #25 on: January 02, 2013, 08:39:01 AM »
Boy, does this hit home for me, on two levels.

First, my mother is a hoarder (the clean version, and not too severe yet, but still a hoarder) and foists stuff on us regularly. If I refuse something strongly enough, she will take it back, and then hoard it with the intention of 'selling it' (they do have a regular stall at a swap meet, but are so disorganised and unrealistic they don't move much). She regularly tries to elicit promises from me that 'I won't just throw it out' as well (I usually do; so far, she hasn't noticed). This is partly because she loves me, and partly because she simply wants to 'extend' the hoard to our place. This is often the case with these kinds of loving donations, so beware - you are often unconsciously viewed as a self-storage facility.

And second, as a volunteer for charity, I help organize a massive (we make in excess of AU$5000) annual jumble sale. We get tons of donations, many of which are perfectly reasonable if not spectacular. But we also get a lot of stuff that is useable but simply isn't saleable (and sadly, some rubbish in the literal sense of the word). (I have a good working knowledge of antiques and access to Ebay as well as several years' experience, so I do know what the items are worth.)

As CakeEater and a few other posters have pointed out, many people seem to lose perspective when the items are something that were once valuable to them, regardless of value now. In the case of the jumble sale we tried refusing certain items, but people got so angry and complained so much that management said we have to thank them nicely and just get rid of it. Luckily, we rarely get huge items like furniture, but as we operate on a shoestring budget this means I, and the other volunteers, are hauling huge bags of junk home to put in our own bins once we've filled the skips (its' expensive to hire more). It just seems to me that it is more about the donor's feelings than benefiting the recipient.

When people talk about donating to charity, I usually tell them not to donate any of the following, even though it may seem wasteful: videotapes, cassette tapes, encyclopaedias/general nonfiction more than a few years old (like travel guides), magazines more than 3 months old, mismatched plates and glasses (again, nod to CakeEater), electronics (unless the charity is specifically asking for them, it is against OHS), bags and shoes in anything but very good to brand new condition, clothes that look 'tired', mattresses and pillows that are used, underwear (yes, we get cross hatched underwear :o), toys that are missing important parts, and stuffed toys in general. These may all still be useful, but they don't sell. I'm sorry.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #26 on: January 02, 2013, 08:45:12 AM »
My children and grandchildren seem to have no interest in my china. I use it about five times a year now, and used to make a big deal out of washing it by hand.

I used it for New Year's dinner today, and my friend was surprised that I put it into the dishwasher. I pointed out that I don't use the heat drying cycle and that I use liquid detergent. I haven't seen any deterioration about the 3 years I have been doing this.

My daughter needed a mixing bowl and I found one of the 1950s Pyrex bowls that was my mother's. I nearly cried watching her use it (my mother died when Daughter was 3 months old, in 1969), but didn't say anything.

I still pray that I can remember not to impose my emotions onto our children and grandchildren and let them make their own choices. I am often surprised at what means something to them.

Darn! It's hard.
Thread jack
Just FYI, I use my china often, but at big family events I'm not willing to have anyone hand wash 24 plates, 24 dessert plates, dozen or so cups and saucers plus all the serving pieces.  So for the last 13 years my china goes through the dishwasher 2 or 3 times a year.  One set has gold rimming and another, my mother's circa 1950's, has silver.  I've not had any problems.

And since your kids aren't interested, use it more often especially for small gatherings or just for yourself.  Nothing makes that healthy New Years resolution salad dinner seem more festive then serving it on pretty china. 

RebeccainGA

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #27 on: January 02, 2013, 08:56:29 AM »
Oh, how this hits close to home! In my case, it's stuff that DP had in storage - when we moved from Arkansas to Georgia, my DD and I spent weekends for MONTHS going through the pile in the storage room, filled up something like 16 of the three cubic yard dumpsters over this period, donated another 8 cubic yards of saleable but useless to us things, and we STILL moved with 10K pounds of stuff. Since we've moved, I've been doing the 'what the eye doesn't see' thing with DP's junk (I mean, stuffed animals, cheap ones from the fair or Chuck E. Cheese, by the sackful, clothes that she'll never, ever wear again, bed linens for beds we don't own any more...). It's amazing.

What's scarier is that I've found a dozen or more boxes from OTHER PEOPLE donating stuff to DP and DD back when DD was little (like, women's very small clothes, 00 and 0 sizes, which MIGHT have fit DD when she was in middle school, but were wildly inappropriate in style - leather trousers, very fancy dresses, linen suits, silk blouses). Thousands and thousands of dollars of stuff. Most of it still in the packaging they brought it to her in. The people at the church she was working at were spectacularly generous with their castoffs, but ye gods, I wish DP had had a polite spine and said no to some of this stuff - I've got another stack of boxes that's probably 2-3 cubic yards of stuff that's got to go to Goodwill. And I've still got 1/3 of the stuff to unpack!!

Bethalize

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #28 on: January 02, 2013, 08:59:57 AM »
Oh, the tyranny of the family china! I have a perfectly lovely set of china that I received for my wedding and added to later. I have 12 place settings for 12 courses. I'm not short of the stuff.

My grandmother left my mother a tea service. I added the teapot. Then someone gave my mother six dinner plates. We added to it whilst my mother was alive, and my father didn't stop for quite a while after her death. it gave him an interest, and we did use it at a dinner for 13, but he has 32 place settings of 6"/8"/12"/tea cup + saucer. I made him inventory the lot and this means one 12 place dinner service with everything such as soup plates, fruit saucers. vegetable tureens etc, plus another simpler 12 place dinner service, plus another 8 place service. I'm going to have to start hiring the thing out! But goodness forbid that I should mention not wanting this behemoth.

In all these cases saying "no, thank you" firmly and consistently without JADEing is the answer. "I don't want it" is quite enough reason. People don't have to like it, they just have to accept it. And you can definitely turn down anything with conditions. "I'm sorry, I won't take anything with conditions attached" is reasonable.




acicularis

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Re: Generosity vs treating someone like your personal landfill site
« Reply #29 on: January 02, 2013, 09:19:47 AM »
Ugh. We had a friend that used to do this to us. It all started when she happened to bring a couple bags of clothes to someone else's house while we were there, and we were all invited to pick through them before she took it to Good Will. There were some nice things, and we were very appreciative.

Perhaps we were too appreciative, because then she started bringing bags to our house. And not taking them away with her if we didn't want anything. Sometimes she just left stuff when we weren't there. "You can just take it to Good Will," she said. I tried politely refusing things. I tried pointing out that I was trying to declutter. I think she actually laughed one time when I said that, since I was not being very successful in my decluttering efforts. I think in her mind, since I already had plenty of clutter, what was another bag or two? And when I was ready to get rid of stuff and take it to Good Will, I could just take her stuff too.

Unfortunately, the only thing that stopped her was when I was rude. One day I saw her coming to my house with a big bag, and without thinking I just blurted out "Oh PLEASE don't bring another bag of junk into my house!" She was offended, and I'm sorry about that and wish I'd handled it better. But it was a relief when she stopped depositing bags of junk in my house.