Define Enough

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I think it's because it is such a time for pause, reflection and gratitude. Life seems to slow down for a bit that long weekend. The focus turns to the food, taking time to cook knowing the bites will be savored a little longer. Families linger and friends are welcomed in as part of the family. For me it is a set up for Christmas. A beginning of the slow down from the hurried pace of fall. It seems that Thanksgiving can get hurried over in society. Today I will set out to look for some decorations for our Friendsgiving this weekend and I already know I will be sadly disappointed by the lack of decor for this holiday, yet be bombarded by Christmas everywhere and Halloween sales in the back.

With all that to say, I want to talk about Christmas today. Not to look over Thanksgiving and not to rush towards Christmas, but as an effort to make Christmas more meaningful and less harmful, if you will.  I get it. We live in a consumerist society. While my kids know the true meaning of Christmas, let's face it, they are already talking about what they want. The toys, the gifts, their wants they've held out for all year may just happen. I have no one to blame but myself. I get it.  But right now, with 44 days left until Christmas I have the opportunity to pause and really think about what I want for my kids and family this year. Do I want to stay in step with society or do I want to do things differently? Don't get me wrong, I don’t think things are in and of themselves bad. Jeff Shinabarger says in his book More or Less “When I define enough, I step off the conveyor belt of consumerism and create my own rhythm of life.” I have a chance to step off the conveyor belt. My kids have enough, more than enough.  When asking my daughter to put her clothes away last week she said with authority “I have too many clothes!” I am already burdening my children with stuff.

I’ve stepped off the conveyor belt and I am taking a look around, thinking about how do I want to spend Christmas and how do I want to give? Now what? Here are some ideas.

-Take the next 44 days to really give items away. Thoughtfully. I don’t want to just throw my stuff at Goodwill to make them deal with it. Is there a pregnancy center that could use our unused baby items? Is there a furniture bank that can take the chairs gathering dust in the garage? Is there a local women's shelter that can take my “I’ll wear these someday” clothes? I want to make room for the pause. I want the holidays to be filled with more than rearranging, cleaning and managing my stuff.
-What do my kids need? Socks. My kids need socks. How can the gift of socks mean something more? I could buy them a pair of Bombas socks. For every pair purchased a pair is donated to a homeless shelter. To my kids a sock is a sock. But if I tell them the story of those socks it means more to them and they begin to learn about the power of our purchases.
- Order items online, be ahead of the game as much as possible. This allows me to make purchases like the one above.
- Get the kids involved. The World Vision catalog came in the mail and my husband suggested we show the kids and let them pick something out for someone. Teaching them along the way.
- Ask yourself: Who made this? Where was it made?  When we take the time to really think about our purchases we realize that someone is behind that product, yes an actual person. Am I promoting slave labor? Is someone sitting in a factory with failing health putting this item together? Is this item helping or hurting someone? Do your research.
-Define for yourself what is enough. Yes, it tends to be more expensive to buy ethical items. But when we say this is enough, we step off the cycle of never ending spending of cheap crap and end up spending less in the long run.
-Give yourself and others grace. It is really difficult to step back and change spending habits. It takes time and you have to re-train your brain to ask new and different questions. The definition of enough is different for every person.

I want to create a new rhythm for ourselves this Christmas. When my kids run downstairs early Christmas morning in anticipation of seeing stockings filled and gifts wrapped under the tree, I want them to be excited for not only what they received but how those gifts have positively impacted someone else’s life as well.

1 comment:

  1. Linnea, Thanksgiving is my favorite too! I loved all of you ideas. We have bought goats and sheep for families from our kids and our kids LOVED that.
    I loved your realization that "you may have already burdened your kids with stuff." Every year I work on this and so I appreciate your thoughts. Terri Conlin