Today is December 1st, 2012.
Not quite as cool as 12/12/12 but close enough.
Anyway, now that we’ve officially entered the month of December, what I really want to talk about is stuff.
Possessions. Toys. Books. Gadgets. Trinkets. Clothes. Shoes. Material gain.
I love the Christmas season, and I love what Christmas represents.
What I don’t love is the extra emphasis on stuff.
Stuff is not the reason for the season.
Don’t get me wrong. I like stuff. I just think it’s a widespread western addiction that’s getting way out of hand, not just at Christmas but all year long.
Since June, the total sum of my possessions has fit into a half dozen storage containers and two pieces of luggage. This is the third time in 15 years that this has been my experience for varying reasons. But, what I’ve found most interesting is that, each time I’ve been able to put down roots again, the acquisition of stuff has been less important to me than the time before.
I used to be pretty ‘stuff’ focused once upon a time, I just only realized how much in hindsight.
Stuff can be a burden. It has to be sorted, stored, maintained, repaired, replaced, and insured. It occupies a lot of our time and effort. Most of us don’t even use a frightening amount of what we accumulate. Sometimes not even once.
Stuff can also be expensive. It’s amazing how much we buy on sale and yet the average debt load per household is more now than ever before.
We don’t own stuff. Stuff owns us.
You may have heard the story of the New York police officer who recently observed a barefoot homeless man in Times Square on a freezing cold night. The officer not only purchased a pair of thermal socks and warm boots with his own money but then he put the socks and boots on the man’s feet. An act of kindness and humility that brings tears to my eyes.
It’s hard to avoid stuff. It’s everywhere. We’re inundated with billboards, ads, flyers, storefront signs, sales events, internet shopping, coupons, you name it.
How can we keep stuff in perspective? Maybe by asking ourselves a few questions.
Do we need it? Really need it? Or do we want it? Will we use it? Can we live without it? Are we buying it for the right reasons? Can we afford it? Do we have room for it? Can we put that money to better use?
I need to ask myself those questions just as much as the next person. Every single time my head gets turned by stuff. Which is still often enough.
The moral of this story?
Don’t be stuffy.