Monday, November 6, 2017

Please, Don't Give Us More Stuff This Christmas

The air is getting chillier. Halloween has come and gone. As we inevitably head toward Christmas, I have one thing to say to my dear friends and extended family members: PLEASE don't buy my kids any more crap.

Seriously, I'm begging you. I'm waving a white flag. No more.

My kids don't need new stuff. They can't even take care of the stuff they have.

There are books on the floor 6 inches from the bookshelf. Sandbox toys have migrated inside the house.

Tennis rackets and baseball bats lie abandoned in the yard. Stuffed animals multiply in every corner of every room, and the living room carpet is a sea of building blocks and plastic food.

Every piece of crap we acquire means hours of tripping over it, reorganizing it, and cleaning it up. I want those hours back.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Honestly, I'm not even sure how this happens. Some people would describe us as minimalists.

Our house contains a third of the toys most houses have, even though we have three times the kids. I'm constantly going through our toys, books, craft supplies, and clothes, and I'm ruthless about chucking anything we don't actually need.

I do this because I know each new thing we acquire represents hours of tripping on it, picking it up, cleaning it, maintaining it, moving it to vacuum, changing its batteries, figuring out what's wrong when it stops working, arbitrating fights over it, searching for it under beds and couch cushions, and going back into the post office to look for it when someone accidentally leaves it behind.

It represents hours of wandering the aisles of Home Depot looking for appropriately-sized receptacles and furniture to contain it.

It represents days of figuring out where to put it, sorting our old stuff into keep/donate/toss piles and carting boxes and bags to the donation center.

And then I'll have to do it all over again next Christmas.

If you’re already drowning in too many toys, games, books, and other out-of-control kid clutter, the thought of a huge stack of presents under the Christmas tree can make you feel overwhelmed. Here’s a convincing case for minimalism and a no-toy Christmas, and the real reason why too much stuff makes us crazy as parents. #christmas #minimalism #toomanytoys #stuff #clutter

It's not that I want to move us all to a cave in the mountains and live like ascetic monks (not most of the time, anyway.) It's just that sometimes, I dread the pile of presents beneath the Christmas tree.

As I watch my kids tear the wrapping paper off a new Lego set  a creative and wonderful toy by any measure  I know that two months from now it will have become just another piece of junk to step on in the middle of the night.

I will come to hate the sound of my own voice yelling at the kids to clean it up. I'll run over the pieces on purpose as I vacuum the carpet just to get them out of my sight.

The truth is, we don't need more stuff for Christmas. And I personally don't want anything except for time.

I can now count the number of years until my oldest leaves for college on one hand. I don't want to spend those years managing an excess of stuff we don't even need. We're starved for time, and every thing we own means we have even less of it.

Please understand it's not the gifts and toys themselves that are making me crazy: it's what we're trading away in order to have them.

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The Lady Okie said...

I'd love to know what you tell your family to give! I know people always say experiences, so I didn't know if you said that or had other ideas! I totally agree that the house doesn't need to be exploding with toys, but I also think it's a way family shows their love and it's fun to buy toys and clothes for kids, so I'm struggling with this myself as the holidays approach!

Anonymous said...

This is actually painful to read for those like myself who are struggling to provide any Christmas at all for our children. Please box up and donate your stuff! List it on Nextdoor or Craigslist and bless someone instead of complaining about how blessed you are.

AnneMarie said...

I appreciate this! I realize that some people legitimately show their love through gift-giving (I don't know if you're familiar with the 5 Love Languages, but "gifts" is one of them), but seeing stuff just accumulate is not good! So many negative effects (which you beautifully pointed out) come from the piles and piles of stuff.

And honestly, Christmas is about JESUS. We don't "provide Christmas" for kids by giving them stuff. Can we or our relatives give presents to kids? Absolutely, but I think it's good to focus on quality (everyone chipping in for one item that lasts or a cool experience or something like a fun trip) than quantity. We didn't even give our child a present last year! (granted, he was 6 months old at the time and didn't notice, but I'm also fairly certain that we're only giving him 1 present this year.) Kids don't need lots of stuff!

Jenny Evans said...

I totally struggle with it, because there are SO MANY good toys that teach... but too many is still too many, no matter how great they are.

We're trying to focus more on experience gifts (movie tickets, museum tickets, a coupon for a dinner out at their favorite restaurant with dad, etc) or things they need but would still be excited to have (new clothes/shoes, new sheets for their bed, a thermos for lunch.) We're thinking about buying my daughter classes at a sewing place since she wants to learn and I can't read a pattern to save my life.

Jenny Evans said...

I do both, but thanks for the suggestion.

Audrey Louise said...

I agree with this sentiment. Also, it drives me crazy when people I talk to once or twice a year show up around Christmas with a gift for me. Whyyy? Why are we exchanging gifts when I haven't seen the inside of your house for 4 years??! Ugh.

Queen Mom Jen said...

Amen sister! I am ruthless about purging stuff around here. My kids know if I step on it twice, it's gone!

Anonymous said...

I wish my extended family would spend 9/10ths of the money and energy they do on breakable plastic junk on helping those who are less fortunate. I wish they would put that barbie doll down and pick up a name from the angel tree instead.
This isn't about "complaining about how blessed you are". Its about raising the next generation to not be selfish, spoiled, consumer obsessed brats.
(Not to even mention the ethics of manufacturing all of said plastic junk)