This is a guest post from Sara Shay of Your Thriving Family. Also, please welcome her to the KS team! We planned this guest post before she joined the crew, so it was ironic that she ended up having to input it into the blog. 🙂 But I’m grateful for her presence!
I opened the bag and my heart sank. Once again corn syrup, dye filled, artificially flavored, chemical laden junk sat before my eyes. I sighed and started removing the tub of cotton candy, packages of peeps, cheap chocolate made with soy and canola oils and then looked at the almost empty basket. Well something would need to be done.
That was earlier this year, at Easter time. It has repeated many times. Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas and any other “holiday” or even non-special day you can think of!
We are blessed quite often with food stuffs and random toiletries. For the most part I love it. Well I should say, I love the heart behind it. When it is paper products, plastic bags or whole foods (no matter the quality) I am truly grateful. But when it is junk, I have to swallow my words.
I know it is a gift. I know the person is desiring to show care, love and affection for my family or me. They are truly trying to bless us.
Because of this I have struggled with how to respond to all these blessings that we do not use. Because part of me feels bad, just trashing it – or immediately adding it to the food bank donations.
“I thought of you and got this for you.”
“We bought this and didn’t like it so much and thought you could use it.”
“I love your kids and thought they’d enjoy this candy, chips, sugary cereal.”
The problem is that over the last couple years not only are we trying to put healthier stuff in us, I have also been trying to use natural, real products on our outside as well. Yes, I am a nutter! Because of this I don’t buy all that many commercial cleaning or personal care items anymore – I make most of them.
Not only does my daughter have VERY sensitive skin, but over the last year I have found homemade, high quality products less expensive and better for us.
Anytime I have since used a commercial product it almost burns my skin – literally. I used my old face wash after using exclusively oil for cleaning and moisturizing and I had to wash it off with plain olive oil cause it hurt so bad.
This brings me to the crux of my dilemma
Do I go on accepting those items we don’t use (probably 75% of what we receive) with a smile and “thank you”? Or do I somehow graciously inform these lovely people that we don’t use/eat that?Me, not wanting to be wasteful and wanting money to go to good use, says tell them. After much though, deliberation, asking the advice and experience of others here is my answer:
With a warm and authentic smile say, “thank you”.
But wait! Think of all that wasted money on the stuff they could be getting that you will actually use! I’ve been pretty open about what we are doing in our home. I’ve even point blank said I would rather the kids not go to McDonald’s and I think it is poison. Yet, they have still been taken there and we have still received gift cards for the kids.
Obviously they know our stance, but because they don’t understand they are not on board. Relationships are more important than the occasional trip to McPoision or the candy or “juice” box given while I’m not there – of course if there are true and clear allergies SPEAK UP!
Otherwise, quietly sprinkle your conversation with what new, fun things you are doing in your house. Share your homemade soap, yummy real food treats and have grace.
Privately discussing with some other like-minded Mamas was also very helpful in getting insight, grounding my thoughts and remembering what is really important. They shared their wisdom with me, and I’ll share it with you…
Other Mamas Say:
“I open my children’s gifts from grandparents all the time. I’m their mother and that’s my job.”
“So, what we’re not allowed to eat at home, we’re not allowed to eat other places either… even if a grandparent hands it to them. YOU are in charge of what your child eats. You don’t need to allow toxic junk inside your child’s body just because it makes a grandparent feel good to give it. You can just say, ‘I’m sorry, but he/she’s not allowed to eat that.'”
“In the end, I can’t control every single toxin their bodies might encounter, I can only do my part to reduce the load. All that to say… I would just accept the gifts, use the McD’s as a special treat and either re-gift or donate the bubble bath. And have the kids write a sweet thank-you note so Grandma feels loved. Relationships are more important than stuff like this, in my opinion.”
“Aren’t we, as Christians and parents, even more responsible for demonstrating grace, compassion, and love to others, particularly in front of our children, and for leading others to Christ? I never ever ever want people to think I am judgmental or critical of them, or that I look down on them because they don’t feed my kids well enough or because they, I don’t know, use air freshener when we’re visiting. Do I like it? NO! Do I say something? Almost never. Most of the time I will keep my mouth shut. On the rare occasion we have tried to offer some guidance to certain people in our lives, they have taken it as a personal affront, or they have grown very insecure and uncomfortable around us.”
“. . . all out of love and a desire to serve their Savior by serving us on our mission. I don’t want to be the one that says “No, you can’t serve God through us. Your ways are not good enough.”
“Yup, they picked junk, but it was coated in love. No, love does not have to be represented by junk, but, when it is, well, then it is. That’s the world we live in.
It’s a world of junk, junk without love, and junk with love. I’ll take the junk with love.
My grandparents ALWAYS offer my kids Hershey’s kisses and buttermints. They’re in their late 80s–my grandparents, not my kids. They’re not going to change. But it makes them so happy…so very, very happy to still be able to do something for the kids. My kids know who can and cannot have the treats, and they’re good with it. My grandparents don’t understand and never will, so we keep it as much of a non-issue as possible. Someday I will be a not-understanding grandparent and great grandparent, and I really, really, REALLY want a daughter-in-law and six sons-in-law who see the love and overlook the non-understanding that I’m POSITIVE will be a part of grandparenting, because, man, I can’t even remember what my own kids like and need!”
I think being non-judgmental, understanding, patient, tolerant, and, yes, sometimes unwrapping presents in advance and hiding them (or discussing our choices with the kids in private), is what we should focus on, REAL faith, which is patient, kind, understanding, and respectful.
Here’s the thing. Most of the world doesn’t get it – or is it just most of America?
I’ve been called “picky” and a “food snob” because I have been made aware of the connection of what goes into our body effects our, health. Our behavior. Our well-being. AND yes, I do often time feel like I am surrounded by poison.
But like often with a spouse, they have to come to their own realization. You can preach it on the hilltops, but until it actually affects the individual they aren’t going to get it. In the meantime, remember YOU are the parent and you are in charge of your child’s well being. And have GRACE.
The second post in this series will give some practical ideas of “What do DO with Unwanted Blessings.”
Have you experienced “unwanted blessings” in your life? How do you handle it?
Sara is daughter, friend, wife and mama to three gifts. She loved creating, experimenting and learning. Whether it be food, health or crafting. Using God as her foundation, her blog Your Thriving Family is about her family’s journey of balancing frugality and natural living in a broken world.