I have a major push/pull this time of year. First, I love the quote above — it applies to everything, including our “first world problems” of getting the best deals and gifts during insane holiday shopping.
I love the selflessness of searching for great gifts for loved ones, for co-workers and others. And yeah, might pick up a few things for myself along the way. As a blogger, I’m constantly researching deals, looking what others are wearing and feeling this “need” instead of “want” to have certain things. I should say though along the way of blogging and getting older I’ve been doing a much better job of identifying what I need, what’s missing, instead of making so many impulse purchases, but still….
If I’m being honest, I feel a little grossed out by the whole thing. Stuff, stuff, stuff. My house is fairly neat and we have plenty of storage but I often feel like there’s just all this random crap around. Yes, I have two kids so it’s kind of inevitable but it’s with my own stuff, too. I know I’m blessed that we even have the budget to buy things for those around us, and for ourselves, yet this time of year really demonstrates just how much “stuff” we have in our lives, and makes me pause. What do we reeaaalllly need? And, while I absolutely love sharing a great find with all of you and that’s part of how I create a business out of this blog, I often feel guilt that I could be encouraging a reader who doesn’t have to be spending on the latest and greatest. All this consumption is just not necessary. How are we prioritizing?
For me, it’s heightened by the fact that both of our kids birthdays are in mid to late November so they’re getting tons of toys, only to soon be followed by all the holidays. We have a rule that our daughter can only open a few items after her birthday party. The rest we put away to open at later dates throughout the year, and many more we decide to donate to families who need it more than we do. Do we really need seven beading kids, or four lalaloopsies? They’re cute, but doubtful.
Do you guys know what I mean? I’m not saying I’m a crazy shopping person and I hope this doesn’t come across judgy but we have so much stuff here. Magazines I don’t get a chance to read, books that I should probably donate, belts I rarely wear and why does a girl in Florida need 10 scarves? Seriously. It’s why I’ve had so much fun selling clothes and accessories on Poshmark (though any consignment shop or donation spot will do). That’s my way of reinvesting the ‘stuff’ I really don’t need to things that will bring me more joy. A lot of times now, we’re putting that money aside for updating our house instead of my wardrobe, and saving or reinvesting it.
I know that there are so many families out there that give one small toy to their children for the holidays, and that’s a struggle, yet we’re talking about deals on tech devices and everything else. I’m bringing my daughter next week to donate the new toys, and I’m proud that her school has done a few what are called “mitzvah” projects (good deed) as well — collecting teddy bears for sick kids, books for schools in underprivileged areas.
I’m going to keep this short but as we’re shopping, and looking around at all the beautiful gifts and options, think it’s really important to be sure that our heart is in the right place. We all work hard, care for our families and friends, and deserve nice things within our means. But in a world where instead of two big sales each year (remember like it was back in the day at stores??) there are constant sales every single week. There’s always going to be something more to buy, to want.
Encouraging you to find ways to give back, or think about meaningful gifts (like experience gifts like ones to your local zoo or museum, for example, so it’s also built in family and friend time). Then, make it a win/win for those who need it: hoping you’ll join me to find ways within our means to give back to those around us. Or, even donate a few things simply by decluttering what you already have (I have a great post about that here). There are so many small ways to make a big impact.
Hope you don’t mind the rambling. It’s been on my mind the past few weeks between all these birthdays and upcoming holidays, with Hanukkah starting tonight, which we celebrate. You should know my daughter ONLY wants a goldfish. I suppose at least it’s not a toy…
December 16, 2014
Great post, Alyson, and clearly strait from the heart. I think having kids changes your perspective a little bit. It’s easy to see how caught up we get in materialism this time of year, when the season is really not about giving or receiving, but about love and togetherness and gratefulness. I know whenever I think about all the stuff I want or how stressed I am, I remember a special little person in my life who is fighting for there’s right now and it instantly brings me back to earth.
December 16, 2014
haha you and I are totally on the same page here. I have a similar post drafted up but it still needs fine-tuning as I’m a work in progress on this one. I’ve been selling bag after bag of stuff on Thredup, purging the apartment, unsubscribing from magazines, unsubscribing from emails… and still just can’t seem to get rid of all the stuff. brands reach out asking to send a “gift,” which is nice and all - but I’ve started saying no to mostly everything… i just don’t want any more stuff! a clutter free life (and a closet where I can actually see my clothes) is much better… and something i’m working towards.
December 16, 2014
Thank you for this post. I loved it-so timely and appropriate. Yesterday, I was going through the list of everything I had bought for my older son and realized it was way too much and that I needed to return some items. We’ve also encouraged our families to keep the gifts reasonable this year.
My son also wants a goldfish. Who knew they were the thing this holiday season?
December 16, 2014
You and I are clearly on the same wavelength - I was just working on a post for January about this very same thing. It’s been weighing on my heart lately too - and I’ve felt so convicted to make a change and share my thoughts. Being in the industry that we are, it’s hard not to always be looking for the latest & greatest thing. But are we actually doing a disservice to our readers by perpetuating the cycle of excessive consumption? When we really have more than enough & there are others who don’t? Definitely food for thought - my husband & I had a long talk about it yesterday and we are planning on making some changes as a family after the first of the year. Thanks so much for sharing this today - I’m sure I’m not the only one who needed it
December 16, 2014
Alyson - thank you so much for this timely post! My twin sons’ birthday is late November. We have given away several of their unopened gifts. Their school and teacher have been instrumental in focusing on the “giving” part of the season. It is hard to not give in to a of the ads and wanting to give more and more to my kids. Their first Christmas they were in the NICU, just a month into their 3 month stay. One was so sick that I didn’t even get to hold him Christmas Day. I never dared to imagine what it would be like to have them home for any holidays. So part of me wants desperately to shower them with gifts. But that’s now going to show them how much I love and appreciate them. It’s the baking together, the nighttime walks to see lights, the family game and movie times, and so much more. Sorry for the rambling- your post struck a nerve in the best way today!