As Julia pulled out bins + boxes, there were so many little things that I recognized as gifts + stocking stuffers. These gifts became things she felt obligated to keep...even if she didn't need or use them. Julia recognized them as nice things...potentially useful things...but she just never used them.
As Julia agonized over each special book + pen, I thought about my role in this struggle. It can be hard to know what our children (or any of us really) will connect deeply with...so we gift a number of things in order to give them options.
I went through all the toys in my girls' rooms with them every few months even when they were toddlers in order to let them know that they didn't have to feel obligated to keep things (even the things I gave them). If I want them to keep some things, then I can take responsibility for keeping those things. Realizing that has, at times, allowed me to let go too.
Even with these realizations + actions, excess things remain. And stuff comes with responsibilities...which often translates to just plain burden. With a birthday close to Christmas, Julia has reminded me a few times that she really doesn't want any more stuff. She said it felt like waking up inside a cloud the morning after the big purge. I know how hard she worked to let things go, so I'm honoring her request.
My goal this season is the same as it has ever been...to not gift useless filler...because that is no gift at all.
Some ideas of what we'll be doing instead:
- providing opportunities to gift elsewhere
- cooking + baking + eating together
- bundling up for our traditional Christmas hike
- watching movies with good snacks
- setting limits to money spent, because that's when creativity gets leveled up
- gifting consumables, necessary replacements + maybe a communal family gift to enjoy together
Inspiring photo via Zero Waste Home.