Tuesday, December 18, 2012

879. Throw It All Away

This time of year does it to me.  When I am in the mall frantically looking for the “perfect” present for all those people on my gift list, I have this overwhelming desire to throw it all away.  I mean, just ditch my list, walk out of the mall with my pocket full of (unspent) cash, go home and throw away all my possessions. 

Do I need two TVs?  Do you?  Does anyone?  How many TVs can you watch at one time?  Do my sons “need” any more Legos?  Does The Husband “need” another scarf/ shirt/ tie? 

Do I “need” a Starbucks card?  Does my best friend? 
My house is cluttered right now.  Since my mom died a month ago, my sister has been mailing me boxes, boxes of old photo albums or faded letters or chipped plates or vintage dolls.  I open the boxes and then immediately get paralyzed.  The boxes are currently stacked in the corners of various rooms, waiting for me to do something with them, something constructive like put the contents away or make a decision about things. 

The only decision I can make is this:  NO MORE STUFF. 
I am feeling clogged. 

A few years ago, I went on a self-imposed spending “diet.”  For Christmas that year, instead of spending money on meaningless junk, I gave everyone a handwritten letter of why they mattered to me.  Granted, the mailman and my sons’ school bus driver might have preferred the cash, but I like to think that they were ripping up my letters in front of me in an effort to respect my privacy and also to not make other mailmen and school bus drivers jealous.
My point is:  stop buying stuff. 

Tell people you love them.  It is enough. 
("Materialism Overshadowing Values")


  1. I went through a similar sensation when I was going through the stuff that was still at my parents' house, just trying to figure out why there was so much of it. Then again, my parents have been going through it, too, because they were actively trying to sell their house at one point and were trying to pack everything away.

    I think there's value in stuff if you actually value it. Sometimes we amass stuff and you lose the value, sometimes it really is just clutter that you should never have gotten in the first place. But ideally, all that stuff isn't just materialism, but an extension of who you are.

    Yeah, it can sometimes seem like a backpack that only weighs you down. But it's not just bulk. It's the first part of what you've tried to represent yourself as to the rest of the world, even if most of it is never seen.

    1. "It's the first part of what you've tried to represent yourself as to the rest of the world, even if most of it is never seen."

      That is very poetic, Tony.

      Why *DO* we buy things? is it to show off/ impress all our friends: "Look what great taste I have," or "This was a bargain-- I am a smart shopper,"? Is it to fill some emotional void? Do we shop/ buy out of boredom or depression or to escape (or all three)?

      I am trying to look myself in the mirror and say "I do *NOT* need things!" (But I sure as hell would look better saying it if I only had those new earrings I saw at the mall yesterday.)

      Thanks for your insights and for reading my blog.


    2. also, I forgot to say that we grow/ change/ evolve, and at that point some of our possessions no longer "fit" who we are (some literally-- old prom dress, anyone?). If the old THINGS are no longer part of our current identity, are we keeping them out of nostalgia? and then shouldn't we be letting them go so someone else can enjoy them and get use out of them? (Are we worried that we will forget who we are or who we were if we do not have physical reminders?)

    3. Ideally we don't collect things around us to impress others. Though undoubtedly many people do exactly that. It's the whole reason rich people have to be rich.

  2. I thought that was sweet when you wrote the letters in Christmas past. I did that back in 2005; wrote a letter to all my family members about how I appreciated them. I was glad I did;it was my mom's last Christmas (she died 12/2006). We seem to be wrapped in a world of materialism.

    Hubby and me have been living in his parents' house for the past two years with all their clutter (they both passed last year). It is sad to see all they treasured with their stuff and when hubby and brother went through it upon their passing, it was just a handful of things really that either wanted. The rest we are still trying to figure out how to get rid of which has caused a lot of stress on me because I'm one that doesn't have a lot of stuff and doesn't like clutter and I'm living among it day after day after day (with no relief even to go to work since I work at home).

    My point is, its just stuff that we can't take with us when we pass. So why accumulate it to only have someone else to dispose of.

    And you are right, telling them you love them and spending time with them is the best gift of all!


  3. I definitely agree with you on this one. Especially when you know that you are getting a gift of equal value in return usually. In fact, I used the Kohl's gift card my sister gave to me for my birthday to purchase her Christmas gift this year.

    That's such a good idea, to write letters.

  4. I came to the realization a long time ago that we just have too much stuff. I would be fine if in lieu of Christmas presents to us, people just donated money to their favorite charity. We have downsized the size of our homes a couple of times but still we live in a ridiculously big house for two people. I would be embarrassed to say how many TVs we have. "Need" is a strong word vs. want.

  5. This is a lovely thought, especially since I am broke. :) It wouldn't work for my kids, though... they may revolt. LOL

  6. It's all very tricky. Why do we want this thing? What does it mean? There are books written about collecting and theories of collecting. I think you have to do what is best for you and yours. Instead of stuff, I like to give baked goods. Most people appreciate it. But, the boys will get more Legos. They wouldn't be satisfied with a batch of lemon poppyseed muffins on Christmas morning.

  7. In my family none of the grownups exchange gifts anymore. And to be honest, not having to shop for a bunch of adults that don't really need anything has been the greatest gift of all.

  8. Go for it, MOV, pack up the stuff in boxes and deliver it to the nearest Salvation Army or March of Dimes...we don't need that stuff--that endless pile of STUFF. It is jut STUFF, and STUFF really means nothing.
    Check and see if any of it is 'extra valuable' or a collector's item that you could sell on eBay or at a flea market--and move the rest OUT of your life.
    I would be satisfied with a batch of lemon poppyseed muffins....or cookies!
    Much love and (((HUGS))) ...we know the feeling. You are not alone, and besides that, MOV, you are a genius and as pretty as a Super-model". ":))

    1. See, people? Learn from Raymond Alexander. His comment is EXACTLY the type that I print out and tape to my bathroom mirror. ;)

      Thanks for your awesome comments, as always!!


  9. I agree with this sentiment. So much stuff. We're drowning in stuff. For the past few years, I've bought everyone books. Because - unlike stuff - you can never have too many books. Right? Right? (Answer that BEFORE you look at my over-stuffed and sagging bookshelves)

  10. I've been thinking of doing this exact thing for my siblings this year. Now that I have your approval, I'm definitely doing it.

  11. Word!!

    I don't do gifts anymore for any holidays and rarely for birthdays because I would rather show my appreciation of the person through my actions not gifts. I usually tell them something nice, but I want to start doing an appreciation letter more in the future. Did that for my boyfriend for the 14 days leading up to Valentines, and he loved it.


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