Tipping point

•December 20, 2007 • 4 Comments

I will try to tread lightly…or at least try..during this post.  The subject is quite sacred to my mom and other family members.   I’ve been mulling over whether or not to even post about this for the last few weeks.  This post is about the holiday season and our tipping point.  You know the old saying, “the straw that broke the camel’s back”?  Well our camel has been limping for a while.

BJ and I have been together almost 7 years now.  Hard to believe how fast the time has gone by.  In that time, we have grown to love living with less “stuff”.  It mostly started because financially we couldn’t afford to buy everything we wanted.  Then came the numerous moves, which made us dread packing said stuff. Somewhere in there we lived in an efficiency apartment -a one room apartment with a bathroom the size of an airplane restroom.  During that time we realized that the stuff we had placed in a storage facility wasn’t really missed all that much.  We always had the important things – a roof over our head, clothes on our backs, and wonderfully cooked meals in our bellies. We also had the most important thing – each other and quality time… with each other & those we loved.

So, where am I going with this?  Holidays are wonderful times of gift giving and cheer.  But also a time when we are bombarded with heavy media campaigns of the stuff we “need”  & should buy for others.  I was amazed at the amount of commercials in one hour for credit cards, loans, and cash stores.  If that isn’t enough, most stores start stocking Christmas items before Halloween has arrived.  Have you counted yet how many more diamond commercials run during this time of year?  It’s been enough to make us avoid the stores at all costs and look into TiVo so we can skip the commercials. 

Our friend, Damon, had a video link on his blog that related to this exact subject, “The Story of Stuff”.  It got me thinking.  From the time we are little, we are programmed to make a list of things we would like from Santa.  Somehow over the years, this has morphed into giving Christmas lists to our parents as adults. And all I can do is think of “me, me, me”…and things I magically can’t live without.   This topic has been one of discussion for BJ and I in years past.  Now that a little one is in the picture – and this little one also receives presents throughout the year – the topic really came to the forefront.  Why?  Because we requested nothing for Christmas.  It’s definitely a hard concept to grasp for some.  “But, but, but”…… has been heard many times over.   BJ and I both agreed that once we asked for nothing, we felt a huge weight of holiday expectations lifted off our shoulders. 

Will we buy each other presents?  Will we buy Amos presents?   What about giving gifts to family & friends?  Answer…We try to make most of our gifts – edible or a crafty one-of-a-kind.  When we don’t make something ourselves, we try to buy handmade items or invest in savings bonds for little ones (college fund, maybe?). 

Last year,  we spent an hour at the mall on Christmas eve.  BJ had the plan that we would have 1 hour to shop for each other -then we would exchange gifts over dinner at the microbrewery.  Monetary limit – $15.  I asked him, “what do you want?” and “give me some ideas”.  He shook his head.  “Nope – you have to get creative and find something you think I’d like.”  Hmm…. I like a good challenge.  It was the perfect evening.  I bet you’re now wondering what we bought each other, right?    He bought me Rosemary Mint lotion from Aveda (mmmmm…love the smell of it).  And I bought him an appetizer cookbook, mini cookie cutters, and a spatula from Crate-n-Barrel.   Yes, we are practical gift givers.  We actually used a number of recipes from the appetizer book for a recent catering gig we did. (I’ll share that story later).   Were either of us disappointed that we didn’t get oodles of gifts?  Hardly.   Our expectations of the holiday as a couple, and now as a family, have shifted.  We’ve enjoyed this shift, even if it is different from the norm – even if it is different than the rest of the family.

 We want the winter holiday to be filled with surprise, wonder, the spirit of giving, and thankfulness.   I loved the idea of having advent stockings like Soulemama – filled with things like poems, knock-knock jokes, a beautiful rock, or a planting seed.  This weekend in honor of the Winter Solstice – I’m planning on making a special bird seed treat for the little critters outside.  Also on the agenda is walking down the river walk to see the light show (12 days of Christmas).  Then there is always the pleasure of gathering in the kitchen with family to make a home cooked meal – holiday or no holiday. 

Please don’t misunderstand me. We are incredibly grateful for the gifts our family and friends have given us over the years.  We’re not saying, “we never want another gift ever again”. We don’t look down our noses on those that get into the shopping spirit during this time of year – it’s just not what we prefer to do.  We’re only saying that we love living with less stuff.  This means less stuff to store, maintain, clean, etc.  It means this extra stuff won’t take time away from spending it with each other. We love living in a small cozy home.  We don’t want to buy a bigger home just because we’ve accumulated more stuff. (This was a solution my Pops jokingly suggested). And -we appreciate it when people put thought into their gifts, no matter who the recepient is — like who made it, were they paid fairly to make it, what resources were used,  and how long it will continue to be in use (what’s the lifespan of the product).  BJ & I are fortunate enough to have what we need, and then some.  This is usually the time of year that BJ & I begin to think less about buying piddly stuff and more about how incredibly fortunate we are.  We think about giving to those who really need things and those who really don’t have the essentials. 

Now– who’s up for some cider and Christmas carols?   Anyone ready for spreading the holiday cheer?   (snicker snicker)