Letting go of the urge to buy things as an expression of your love is difficult, especially at Christmas.
Every year since I was a kid, the conversation has been the same.
“What would you like for Christmas, Dad?”
“Nothing. Seriously, I really don’t need anything.”
Ugh! For years, this always seemed to be an absurd response meant only to frustrate me. Every Christmas, I would go in search of some big item that would make my dad happy. And every year, his response would be less than what I’d hope for.
However, this year, I think I finally got it.
No, I don’t mean that I found the perfect gift.
I mean that I understand that he actually meant what he was saying. He really doesn’t want any of the shirts, games, movies, or toys that I might buy him.
Why? Because he understands the happiness that can come from living simply, and more often than not the things I buy him aren’t necessary additions to his life. If they were, he would have bought them for himself. Instead, they usually just become clutter.
And clutter he hates.
When I was a kid, I used to hate when my dad would go on a cleaning spree. Not because I didn’t love a clean house, but because a clean house was usually coupled with bags full of “clutter” being hauled out of the house and taken to Goodwill. And to me, that meant losing “valuable” items that I didn’t want to part with.
As is often the case, it took years for me to appreciate the genius behind the madness. More and more, I see how physical clutter equals mental clutter in my life. And in an ironic twist of fate, the very act that used to leave me feeling anxious and angry now relieves my anxiety. When I’m feeling stressed, nothing makes me feel quite as calm as going through the drawers/cabinets/closets and purging the items that are of no positive use to me.
I am in no way 100% on the simplicity bandwagon, but I can easily see that in my future. This year, I still couldn’t keep from getting him physical gifts, but there were less of them and I thought more about the experiences our family could have with the gifts. I found it much more rewarding to buy him a few small items I knew would be meaningful instead of focusing on getting him “enough” or spending “enough.”
So, although he will still unwrap presents from me this year, I didn’t bother to ask what he wanted. Next year, we are even talking about not doing any presents at all as a family. And you know what’s funny? I’ve never felt more excited for a Christmas with no gifts under the tree.
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