The interesting life of a mold/MCS person, when getting presents for other people is so much easier than receiving presents yourself. How do you navigate that? I suppose this post is written mainly for you to be able to forward to your grandparents and friends, but hopefully you will be able to gain some insight on how to be courteous, and thankful (and convey that), while still keeping your house safe. 🙂
I very much like to give gifts; and I also feel sooo special and loved when I receive gifts. I’m fairly certain they are my love language(although quality time might top it…). It doesn’t matter what the gift is, it’s just the fact that someone would get it for me! As Christmas is rolling around, though, my family is faced with several problems that we are having to navigate concerning gifts.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity – Store Bought Gifts
Okay, first, I realize I need to define new. New: newly bought online or from a store that is not known to be ‘un-safe’, that has never been in anyone’s house. Okay, glad we got that clarified. 🙂
Friends and family, new things bother us. A board game or card game off-gasses chemicals way more than you realize- than we realize, eve, until we experience it. Yes, it is brand new, and should not have any allergens, you’d think, that would bother us. But the chemicals in it still really bother us. The same would be true for new clothes. Or new plastic toys. Or new books.
So then, what do you/we do? I mean, obviously we wear clothes, so we clearly found some way around the obstacle. There are certain things we can do to make something new, with chemicals, ‘safe’. For clothes, you can wash it (WITH THE RIGHT STUFF) many times and that will help. For other things, you can specifically off-gass them in the sun, in the heat. But again, there are specifics there, like do not leave it out in the wet, in the rain, or in any conditions that enable mold to grow…
Again, there are very specific processes for all this, and requirements that vary even on the person. Therefore, make sure you ask them and do everything. Even the smallest thing, to their specific instructions. I cannot stress that enough.
Another option is to do what my family is doing, and have the new gift sent to another member of the family who can off-gass it for you. That way, all the ‘safe’ requirements are met, and yet the gift is still a surprise. In fact, that’s a good practice anyway, to verify with a family member before getting it in the first place.
Mold – Homemade Gifts
One of my best friends has always said that homemade gifts are so much more meaningful. This may be true, but suddenly I find I cannot have homemade gifts as much. 😦 You see, most houses have some sort of water damage, and therefore mold, even a tiny bit, that is enough to set someone like me off, and to make us sick. Even if ‘normal’ people would never be bothered. Our systems have just been so overloaded, that the slightest thing can cause us harm. I know, I know, we’re weird, but it’s just how it is. 🙂 My point is, homemade gifts, while very appreciated, are often not things that we can keep. If you aren’t sure, ask the person, or their family. Basically, someone who knows the rules. They may know if things coming from your house are ‘safe’, or if the specific thing is cleanable. Please do not be hurt or offended if they have to say no. They do not want to say no. But surely health is more important than one gift?
( I want to interrupt and thank the people in my life who have been so understanding in this. Especially after lots of hard work. ‘N’, in particular.)
If this is all totally confusing for you, and you want to be absolutely sure that something is okay for a person, get something made out of glass or metal that has no paint on it. That is usually pretty safe.
So, I tried regular wrapping paper… well, not even regular. We got the Hallmark stuff, we made sure it was paper that was wrapped completely in plastic all the way around, we did everything we could, but…
The good news: I could touch it just fine, it did not burn my skin.
The bad news: It seriously bothered me to breathe it.
We had even bought it from the most non-perfumey store we knew of, but still, I reacted strongly to it. I am not sure if the problem would be fixed, though, if you bought it online. Possibly. Feel free to try, and let me know how it goes! 😉 If you don’t want to risk it, however, what do you do? Thankfully, we found an answer:
A giant roll of plain, natural paper. Perhaps a little drab, but it is safe, and it does the job. Plus, you can experiment and see what you can do to decorate it. It doesn’t have to be drab. Maybe ribbon? Or non-toxic washable paint? Or even just pencil drawings? Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it can’t be fun! I’ve found this to be true for all chemical, Lyme, and mold related things. Of course, your next question is going to be what brand and such. Well, to start with, we bought it online. As to the brand, here are the specifics:
Specifically, note, that it is the color ‘natural’, not just ‘white’ or ‘brown’.
Of course, if this paper I’ve suggested doesn’t work, printer paper can be a last resort. Or even properly processed cloth (though, that’s probably expensive… I just thought of it when looking for pictures for this post and came across this picture…)
Now, while a person with MCS themselves cannot use construction paper if they struggle with dyes as much as I do, there is still a way to use it to add color. You see, while I cannot touch construction paper, I am perfectly fine to breathe it (hence out wonderful tree in my last post). So while my family cannot wrap my presents in it, nor can I wrap theirs in it, they can wrap the ones for each other in construction paper. It just makes it a bit more cheerful to add color, in my opinion. 😉
Okay, there’s one last point on wrapping gifts I want to stress. If you are wrapping a present for someone who has joint pain, do not use lots of tape. Do not make it hard to unwrap in any way. Even then, be aware that they may need someone to unwrap their presents for them. 😉 Maybe gift bags are better… although, I don’t know how those are chemically… tell me what you think, or what your experiences are in this area! As I’ve said before, we are still blundering our way through all this, too! 🙂
Dear friends and family of mold/MCS people: We love you, and we love your gifts. We didn’t ask you to read this because of anything you’ve done wrong already. We know that you have no way of knowing what we can and can’t have or do if we don’t tell you. Thank you so much for your understanding and support of us even if we seem not to make sense. It means so much when you take the time and try to understand us and to do all these things that seem crazy so that we really can have and enjoy the gifts you put so much thought and effort into.