Valentine’s Joy – How to Be Happy on the International Day of “Buying Yourself Nice Chocolates”

For Valentine’s Day, the answer to the eternal question: What is Love?

Perfume, Fairy Tales and Survival: Why Smelling Good Means Behaving Well and Decimating Enemies

How to Receive Gifts (special Valentine’s Day dispatch)

Why are (royal we!) writing about receiving today? Because it is Valentine’s Day and all over the world trolls are getting ready to demand gifts and/ or demean the gifts they receive. Divas aren’t. Divas are either with a person smart enough to get the correct gifts (be it lace teddies or a blowtorch) or with a person who is useless at or philosophically opposed to giving gifts which the Diva Has Made Peace With and the Diva has gone out and got what the Diva wanted be it dinner reservations, hotel bookings, diamond earrings, new chainsaw, Burdick’s chocolates and/ or wrench set. That’s why trolls are trolls and divas are divas.

It is a truth seldom acknowledged that when someone tries to give you something – you should accept it and say, “thank you.” But, you say, “I don’t like it” or “I don’t need it.” How fascinating and utterly irrelevant. If you aren’t allergic to the gift and you don’t have a restraining order against the person who is giving it, then you love it. Yes, you do. And I will explain why.

First and foremost – you must judge by intention, not result. Co-workers who give you cookies you can’t eat, aunts (not me, heaven forfend!) who give you socks you will never wear, neighbors who give you hideous dried flower arrangements – look at the object and say, ‘this is a declaration of affection trapped in a ghastly container.’ Liberate the emotion (friendship) from the object (plastic salt and pepper shakers in the shape of ducks). Then respond to the emotion and chuck the object. Quickly.

One basic problem of receiving is that people think receiving means you have to do something in return. You don’t. Darling, of course you know that if a person buys you dinner you don’t owe them sex or a second date, but the rule goes much further than that. What you ‘owe’ is a verbal (sometimes written) ‘thank you’ and nothing else. Don’t get mad that a sense of obligation has been created. The sense of obligation is between your ears.

The second basic problem is lack of preparation for getting rid of  bad gifts. If someone has given you something awful in the past, you must be ready for it. Plan, my darling. Open and (as soon as they are out of the room) toss it. Get it out of your sight and mind immediately.

Receiving makes people (other people, not me, Darling) loony. Your sister gives you an itchy woolen sweater in a color you hate and you can’t think of anything else for days.  How many times have you told her you hate wool? Why doesn’t she ever listen to you? What terrible thing can you get her in retribution? No. Stop. Evanesco the sweater, and all the accompanying tangled emotions of sisterhood, pronto.

This is truly the heart of the dilemma – you need the execrable thing to vanish NOW. First choice is charity (animal shelter, medical or religious charity) but if there isn’t one near you or it’s too difficult to get to one, allow me to help you be reframing the issue. You have something you hate, but it is a thing that someone else will like, so you must release it into the wild.

New, unattractive clothes can be left in coffee shops or hung on the bathroom stall doors of restaurants or grocery stores. Someone will take it or it will be put in lost and found and eventually dealt with. The same with small objects – set them free, those unwanted books, pens, knickknacks, let them go out into the universe and live their best life. Cram a bag with all the things you don’t want and leave them all over town on diner counters, tables at cafes, next to cash registers, and in changing rooms. Do it without getting caught, mind you, and if you are super sneaky – leave stuff on coworkers’ desks. People will be amused, appalled, baffled and the hideous tape dispenser in the shape of a frog may find a happy home.

A dear friend who lives near an ocean (pond/ lake will do as well) flings gift food that she doesn’t want into the water. Problem solved. (Plus it feels so good to throw stuff!) No anger at yet another plate of goodies she can’t eat – no irritation, no fury, no rage, just a lot of fat, happy fish.

But, you sputter, what if you are morally opposed to the gift. First and foremost: calm demeanor. Being livid will elevate your blood pressure and cause your feet to smell like rotting garlic. An unshakable tranquility will get you through any unpleasantness with good hair and a high HDL cholesterol count. For example, a friend of a friend is vegetarian and has a mother-in-law who sends her meat products. Of all the options, yelling, screaming, sending the gifts back (that means trips to the post office), stamping around the house – what does this diva do? She buries them. She has a big garden and she takes the box, buries it and writes a kind note: “Thank you for thinking of us. Of course, we don’t eat meat but we are grateful for your kindness.” Tell me – who is winning this battle? Who has glowing skin and a host of angels applauding her every move? (Other option, try an animal shelter!)

Ditto a friend who gets books about politicians she hates from family members – she doesn’t want to throw away or burn a book but doesn’t want to give it to anyone and potentially spread the hateful thoughts of said troll politician, so she…. tears out the pages and adds them to her compost heap. If you are lucky, you might know someone with a wood chipper who can do the job for you.

Accept gift. Thank person for gift. Terminate gift. Be happy.

For Valentine’s Day, the answer to the eternal question: What is Love?

Perfume, Fairy Tales and Survival: Why Smelling Good Means Behaving Well and Decimating Enemies