Holiday Gift Horse: What I Do With Gifts I Can't Use

A few years before I developed asthma, I started getting multiple chemical sensitivity symptoms from fragrances (a lot of fun to have that start in high school, let me tell you). I've always been pretty low maintenance, and I didn't use a lot of scented products to begin with. Other than switching out my antiperspirant, laundry detergent, and hand and dish soap, this became less of an issue, at least when I was at home. This issue was compounded in 2008 when I developed asthma.

The unexpected issue that did come up?

Holiday gifts.

The gift horse

I don't look a gift horse in the mouth, however, with asthma, the gift horse can sometimes truly be the Trojan horse for us, even if not for others!

The first task was sorting out family. My grandma would always buy my mom and I a basket of bath products and soaps. Often, she'd even get us separate baskets, meaning double the stuff! My grandma passed away a few months before I began having asthma symptoms, and I can't remember if we tried to solve this one and our attempts didn't work, or if we just accepted it because it was definitely the easier way to go!

As the years went on and I worked in a daycare, we'd get generous gifts from the kids' parents, our board, director, and fellow staff. After my first while working there, my coworkers grasped my fragrance issues and often would substitute any soaps and things for something else (...and even if I could use the stuff I'm not sure I wouldn't still want chocolate or hot cocoa mix instead!). And hey, I've still got the cozy socks I was given instead of hand cream that one time, and I'm presuming the hand cream is long gone!

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What to do with the gifts that trigger asthma

In all cases, when I was gifted something I couldn't use because of my fragrance sensitivity and asthma, eventually we'd find a women's shelter, Christmas hamper, or similar program to donate the products to. Just because I can't use them, doesn't mean someone else shouldn't enjoy them... well, as long as they're not around me, please!

Happy asthma-free holidays!

Navigating asthma triggers around the holidays can be a challenge, but if you're here, whether as a person with asthma or on the hunt for asthma-friendly gift ideas, you're thinking ahead, which is the best way to approach the holidays!

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