Friday, October 27, 2023



The colour chartreuse repulses me. I don't know why. Maybe something in my childhood. I don't like strawberry ice cream either. It tastes fake. Nor do I like home decor in gold/beige/orange/brown, even when fashionable, as they were in 1976 when friends gifted me with a set of gold patterned unbreakable dishes.

Taught that it's impolite or worse to decline a gift, I sucked it up and moved on, while a little part of me mourned a bit.

It's not that I didn't appreciate these gifts. I did, with all my heart:

  • The ice cream my uncle treated me to during an errand when I was 7. Strawberry was his favourite. For his sake I pretended to like it. I loved him.
  • Or the orchid an enthusiast gave me because she loved them so much. Of course she did.
  • Or the hand-knitted kitchen cloth Sue made for each of us at the beginning of the pandemic. This was so kind. They were just like the ones Gma used to use in her kitchen. 

Mine was chartreuse. 

And there we were again. 

It wasn't just chartreuse, it was Meant To Be. The package with my name on it got mislaid when Sue was giving them out, so another in the group cheerfully passed hers along to me. My inner needy child mourned, my adult self felt like I was 7 again, while another part of me looked on with a smile and marvelled at how absurd it all was. 

Preferences are fine, but when they spoil a gift they're not fine. I was going to have to deal with this for once and for all.

Of course I had good reason to feel the way I did. I understood the origins. I have history. What I wanted to explore though, was that fine line between want and need.  

It's different for each of us, and different at different times in our lives. Sometimes, when people are not heard, wants can turn into needs. At the same time, most of us can accept something we don't like when what we want is taken into account.

When I got home, I placed the cloth at the top of the pile in the drawer so I'd use it. The first couple of times it cycled up to the top, I still felt a mild revulsion. But I'd decided to take that moment to linger in the energy of the gift - the pleasure, the kindness, the sharing - and let those tonal qualities take hold in my body. Just that little second changes everything.

I took it a bit farther too. You know how when you buy undies in a 4 pack of assorted colours, they always include one or two that are really awful? I let those mud-green ones cycle up to the top too. It's a bit of a shock when I see myself in the mirror, but I smile each time.

Oh, and the dishes? After 20 years, I gave them away and replaced them with a set I liked more.