It’s true. Even with the best of minimalist intentions, there will constantly be opportunities to gain more “stuff.” Although the 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno has started somewhat of a grass-roots movement to change American-style consumerism by changing the mindset of its consumers, there are still thousands of savvy marketing executives and corporations out there devising plans to keep us spending. Their livelihood is at stake. But, we’ve covered that already.
This step is about realizing that just because you are on a mission to minimize does not mean that the people around you will understand the “new you”. They will continue to give you things just like they always did … housewarming gifts and thank you gifts, birthday gifts, and tokens of their appreciation. Your neighbor may be cleaning out her closet and think you might benefit from her hand-me-downs, or your mother might be cleaning out her attic and decide to bless you with your bygone memorabilia. And if you have children, then you know that you’re not picking up a prescription at the drug store without taking several laps around the toy section.
This part of the challenge is hard, because it’s not just about you … it’s about training the people around you how to share in your minimalist vision. Even if it’s not their vision. I don’t mean that you need to convert anyone. I mean that they will be challenged to learn how to support your efforts. And with the holidays right around the corner, I’m bracing myself for a new onslaught of “stuff”.
Here’s my strategy … when people ask me what they can buy my children for their birthdays or Christmas, I tell them we have more than enough toys, but my kids would love to go on an adventure with them. For example, my parents took my son to the Museum of Flight for his fifth birthday. He hasn’t stopped talking about it since.
My daughter’s birthday happened to be right before school started, and she did need some school clothes … she was a little disappointed, but still loved ripping into the paper and celebrating with an incredible cake made by my sister-in-law. This cake was the perfect gift. It was made with love. It made the day special. It tasted delicious. And at the end of the day, it was gone.
Now, kids are still kids, so Christmas isn’t going to be entirely the same without some parcels under the tree. The Momma in me can’t wait to see the twinkle of magic in their eyes as they tear into their presents. Meanwhile, the Minimalist in me knows that whatever they get is going to replace one or two other items hiding under their beds. But there are still great ways to give your kids adventures. Last year, my husband’s parents gave us a family pass to the zoo and included the cards inside an A-Z animal book that my kids love to look at … something they could open. Something educational. And something that housed a family adventure. The perfect gift.
Of course, you could always ask people to donate to a charity in your name, or be very specific about something you actually need. My personal plan for the new year is to go to lunch with my friends and splurge on a really great meal while we catch up on the years that have slipped us by. There’s a little something magic about sharing a meal, relaxing, and building relationships together.
I’ll take as much of that as my friends are willing to give. 😉