Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Gift of Experience

I'm over the Christmas lists. Already. I have enough stuff and so do my kiddos. Don't get me wrong: we are so richly blessed and thankful for the things we have. With 4 separate sets of parents/grandparents, there is always an abundance at birthdays and Christmas. And for that I am grateful. Many times the monetary gifts we receive at Christmas will be our personal spending the rest of the year. With a tight budget of $10 a month of personal money these days, I am SURELY looking forward to some of the blessings that will be flowing our way this holiday season. Don't get me wrong.

It's just the stuff. Okay, I'm talking about toys. We've got a closet full of them downstairs and bedrooms stocked upstairs. Even a few bins in the attic that can be rotated in on a rainy day.

For the past several years, I've had this inkling to simplify. To purge. And not just to purge the excessive amount of kids' stuff in our home, but my closet, household products, etc.

But it's HARD. Especially when it comes to my closet. I like having lots of options. But I also like having a tidy, well organized closet with hangers that are neatly spaced apart from one another. If you think that's strange, I'd just like to say that I've come a long way from previously color coding and arranging from sleeveless to long sleeve. Baby steps.

So while these ideas of a simplified and more minimalistic lifestyle have been tugging at my heart, I needed to put it out there. There is something about telling others about the things living in your head that make them real. That invokes action. And maybe I'll even find some fellow sojourners along the way. I know you're out there...

Along with cutting the clutter from my heart and my home is the desire for my kids to cherish experiences and time spent with others or serving others over stuff. It's been a blast and a blessing to ask for a received gifts such as a pool pass, Imagination Station membership and Zoo membership in the past. These things are a good start. But I want to foster a love for seeking, exploring, doing and serving. I believe that these are true gifts, and deep, meaningful blessings can come from such things.

My dear friend and pseudo-mother, Laura Grace Weldon, often writes on this idea. She's onto something, has been for years. You can read about it here.

And so the question remains. Amidst my counter-cultural bend and good intentions, how do we keep gifts simple? Keep CHRISTMAS gifts simple? Please know that I am not anti gift-giving. I don't want to be a ba-humbug! Right now I'm just searching for a balance and to cut the excess. I'm looking for ideas and some friends who are along for the ride with me. Don't be shy now... :)


Jenn Kujawa said...

You are's so hard! I'm right there with you on the clothing closet dilemma :) I many times have visions of selling all but a few favorite outfits and a weeks worth of staple 'mom' clothes. I also would love to sell all but our most cherished toys because our house often looks like a tornado went through and spewed toys everywhere.

This year for Christmas we are going to implement a few things:
1. Something in, something out. Any gifts we bring home from our many Christmas parties will replace something that we decide we no longer need. We will either sell, donate or re-gift that item.
2. Because we get so much from well-meaning grandparents, we do very minimal gifting in our house. The boys get something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. 4 gifts and a stocking full of craft supplies and little things I've thrifted at garage sales over the year that I think they'll like.

We also ask for gift cards for date nights, zoo memberships, and are thinking of asking for karate lessons for the boys since it's something we can't afford but think they'd love. We end up bringing home all these 'amazing' toys, and my kids would rather play with my recycling to make their own creations.

It gets harder as my boys get older, because now we are fighting all the rampant materialism they see from other families and their classmates at school. Our 4 year old has a serious case of the I wants right now. And my Kindergartener is having a tough time when he sees the neighbor boys getting fun stuff all year long for no reason, and we make them wait for birthdays and Christmas.

I think it all comes down to an attitude of gratefulness for the things we do have, and figuring out how we can bless and serve others with it, because after all it's not ours to begin with :)

Laura said...

Love this! Love even more that you called me a dear friend and pseudo-mom. I'm warmed to the core.

Martin05 said...

Jenn- thanks so much for all of your awesome thoughts and ideas. They're great!

And Laura- you play many roles in my life. Friend and pseudo mom are just two of them :)