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Friday, July 1, 2011

Stuff and Things, Things and Stuff and Having Enough

I really don't care for stuff.

And by stuff, I mean stuff.

I will never get it.  Ever.  Our culture's quest for more.

Before "more" meant better.  Better designs.  Better research.  Better systems. Better lives.

Now it simply means more.

More crap.

I drive around my neighborhood where half the homes have either been in foreclosure or headed that way, and people have so much stuff they can't even park in their garages.

My son even gets it.

When he was 4, we were driving around our neighborhood at Halloween. People had decorated their homes beyond imagine.  Haunted houses, graveyards- it was fun to see.  When he asked why we didn't decorate like that, I said we did decorate, but not to that extent.  It was expensive and we chose to spend our money on other things.

"Like my college fund?"

"Yes, Skip.  That's exactly right.  Like your college fund."

I was a little scared that I had sucked all the fun out of his childhood.

Until the next year.

We were driving around and we noticed that the same house that had caught his attention was in foreclosure.  Another one.  I quietly said to my husband "Look, another foreclosure."  We both sighed.  From the back seat I heard...

"Well, I guess they shouldn't have spent their money on Halloween decorations!"


I know that many people have lost jobs, lost incomes, etc., and I appreciate that.  Truly. But in this case, you know, he was probably right.

When did we become a culture where a smart phone became a necessity?  When did having the latest and the biggest and the best outweigh simply having enough?

Vacations are luxuries.

Manicures are special treats.

iPad's are lovely, but not vital.

I fear we have become a culture of materialistic gluttony rather than simply having enough.

You need 2 sets of sheets, not 5.  Your kids don't need so many toys that you can't contain them.  You don't need 75 pairs of shoes.  EVER.

Don't get me wrong, I like nice things.  I sew.  I know there's a difference between well made clothes and crap.  I prefer wearing a well made pair of shoes to Payless glued faux leather one.  My Henckel knife is wonderful to use.  I prefer the Ritz-Carlton to the Super 8.

But honestly, I don't need any of it.

Especially things like jewelry.

One of my friends got engaged and was showing off her ring.  It was very pretty.  In fact, that's what I said.  Apparently, from the look on her face, I should have made more of a fuss.

So, what I said was, sensing her disappointment, was "Yes, it's a very pretty, shiny rock."

She rolled her eyes as if I didn't "get" it.

I got it.

It was, in fact, a very, pretty, shiny rock.  It came from very far away.  Someone probably risked his or her life to get it.  Some poor miner who was simply trying to feed his family, took a risk so she could wear a shiny rock on her finger.

What is was not, however, was a representation of his love for her.  Just because her shiny rock is bigger than my shiny rock does not mean that her husband loves her any more than my husband loves me.

It meant his family had more money and gave it to him to buy her a big, shiny rock because she likes big, shiny things and would have complained relentlessly if he had not gotten her the exact big, shiny rock that she wanted.

Yea, that's love baby.

Congratulations on your big, shiny rock.

When we bought our house, the realtor said "You know, you can afford the bigger model." No, we couldn't.  We qualified for the bigger model, but it would have cut down on our extra money to travel or to save.  Plus, we didn't need the bigger model.  We don't even need what we have now.

We have enough.

We are not stuff people.

I don't need the latest gadget to look cool.  I don't care about being cool in the least.  I left junior high a long, long time ago.

I think it's much more important who I am versus what I have.

I had hoped that after the recession people had learned to value and appreciate what they have.  That staying home and playing cards made just as many family memories as expensive trips and ridiculous, over the top birthday parties.

It doesn't seem to be that way.

I think the opposite happened.

People seem angry.  As if something was taken away from them. They deserve bikini waxes, manicures, vacations, BMW's, $4 coffees- huh?

I don't think I do.

I am privileged to have a career that I love, doing something I believe.

I am thankful that I met my husband.

I am blessed and grateful that I have 2 healthy, intelligent, funny children.

I am happy that I live in a country with so many freedoms.

I am fortunate to be healthy.

Quite simply, I have enough.  And then some.  And you can't buy any of it on QVC.


Nicole said...

Well said Momma Bean!

Helen said...

There's so much I want to say but I'm not sure where to begin. Let me just say, I agree. We have less "stuff" than most people and are fine with that. We do enjoy some luxury but none of it is a necessity - including my 75+ pairs of shoes!

Michi said...

And the choir said, "Amen!" Great post.....People are more concerned with what they have then who they are or what they have become in the pursuit of "bigger and better".

Vicki said...

Anytime I'm in a Costco (picking up baby wipes & bread, thank you very much)I think to myself, "Recession?? What recession??" Carts loaded to the brim & not with food. STUFF. Big stuff, pricey stuff. People will spend $30K+ for a vehicle & park it outside their house because their garage is "usable space" for STUFF. You said it well, MB. If I can teach my kids now that our stuff does not define us or dictate how our family lives, then I think the battle will (hopefully) be a little easier down the road. Hopefully.

Rita said...

We are having a party for the boys birthdays at the end of the month. We are having it in our backyard...some snacks...water balloons and squirt guns and cake. When people ask me where the party is and I say our backyard they seem shocked if not a little confused. So far every kids party we have been to has been a chucky cheese, a place with a dozen inflatables, bowling.... We have done their parties this way every year and you know what...the kids have fun...they actually play together...the parents stay and chat...we all have a good time even with out chuckee cheese.

Mama Bean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mama Bean said...

Glad to see I"m not alone!

Rita, we had a party like that (and usually do). A friend "Cool, a retro theme. I like it." Sure, retro... that's it... not cheap and easy...

Rita said...

Retro...I love it!
The one thing I do usually do is buy a cake...from the warehouse's delicious...and cheap. This year I'm considering making the cake(s). The boys are Lego crazy this year and I decided it would be pretty easy to make cakes that look like Legos. (I am a great cook but baking is really not my thing). When some parent makes the comment of how "cute" it is to have the party at home I"m gonna tell them it's a retro theme. (This will also work since my boys can never decide on one theme so things never match. One year we had a StarWars Zebra party with a Batman cake...they were thrilled.)

CarolBe said...

I have said that so many times I suspect you may be me.