Tag Archives: faith

Enough with the Stuff

The holiday season is officially upon us and though the Thanksgiving turkey has yet to be cooked, everyone is in a frenzy to start checking gifts off Christmas lists. Black Friday is in t-minus 7 days, which means we have less than a week to figure out how to get the most for the cheapest. And if we can only just find the perfect gifts for everyone, then all will be well and our holiday season will be perfect too.

I say enough. Enough with the stuff. I, for one, have had enough of the notion of forced or arbitrary gifting for a holiday.

I’ve had enough of the stress, both emotional and financial, of having to show someone you care by getting them physical possessions. Some people are masters of finding the perfect gifts for others. Some people actually even enjoy the process – the hunt for something a loved one will adore. Gifting is their love language. But I am not this person. I am the person who overthinks what I should get someone for weeks, wait until the last minute when I still have no ideas or time, and buy something random that I know the person might not actually enjoy. Yet I feel like I need to get them something. So the dollars fly out of my wallet, and along with them my dreams of owning a house or enjoying a vacation. Because, let’s be honest, gifting is expensive. Even if you plan to keep it small or set budgets, when you multiply the small gifts by all the family, friends, neighbors, teachers, whomever that you need to buy for, it can quickly add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars. Of small stuff. Which brings me to my next point…

I’ve had enough of being on the receiving end of gifts that I don’t actually want or need, and that just take up space in my home and life. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but I don’t really need another mug / scarf / decorative candle holder. It’s not that I don’t appreciate them, I am blessed with many loved ones who have impeccable taste and give me lovely gifts. But the problem is me. I am woefully disorganized and a trail of clutter seems to follow my every move. This problem is increased exponentially with young children and all the stuff that’s required to keep them fed, clothed and entertained on a daily basis. I wish I was better at keeping things stowed away in their rightful place, but I’m not. So when gifts we may not need come into our house, one of two things usually happens: 1. They get thrown into our office and forgotten because I can’t deal with the task of finding a place for them or, 2. They create more clutter on our floor / counter / life that simply stresses me out. I’m realizing more and more that stuff, and the effort it takes to maintain and put away said stuff, is a huge drain on my energy and joy. Isn’t spreading joy what we’re all striving for, especially this time of year?

I’ve had enough of how consumerism steals the joy and overshadows the meaning of Christmas. Did you know that Christmas isn’t actually about physical presents? Are you aware that Santa and stocking stuffers are not really requirements of a happy holiday? If you come from a Christian tradition, as I do, it might be worthwhile to focus on the greatest gifts of Christmas – the gift of God with us, the gift of grace. Regardless of your belief system, though, it’s so much more meaningful to spend time with the people you love rather than stressing about shopping for them. It’s easy to forget in the fanfare of the holidays what this season is all about. So I’d personally like to quiet some of the noise and the demands to create space and time to focus on family and faith. Maybe it’s necessary to clear away the unnecessary in order to see what’s most important; what we already possess. Unlike Christmas clutter, these are the gifts that last.

I’ve had enough of the wastefulness of buying something for one day that will have an impact on our planet for years to come. This may be the biggest issue that is often overlooked when it comes to unnecessary gifting. The non-renewable resources that go into producing the kitsch items we often give as gifts deplete our land and pollute our environment. An abysmally large proportion of gifts are discarded within six months because they have broken, become obsolete, or were never needed / wanted in the first place. For a fleeting moment of joy, we are filling our landfills for the foreseeable future. I think the most awakening summation of this issue I’ve read comes from this article, which gives the touching advice: “Bake them a cake, write them a poem, give them a kiss, tell them a joke, but for God’s sake stop trashing the planet to tell someone you care. All it shows is that you don’t.” Our children don’t need another toy from Santa to know that we care, they need a future where they can continue to enjoy the beauty of the Earth we walk upon.

So maybe this year, instead of rushing off to stores before Thanksgiving leftovers have even be put away, we sit with those we’re lucky enough to be surrounded by just a bit longer. Maybe instead of running all over town, filling our heads with stress, we appreciate where we are and fill our hearts with memories. Maybe instead of adding more clutter this Christmas, we leave space for what matters most. Maybe we can all agree that we already have enough without the extra stuff.

At the risk of sounding like a complete Grinch, I feel compelled to offer some Christmas hope. Here’s the truth, as much as I don’t want to give or receive unnecessary stuff, I’ll still give some gifts, and so will you I’d guess, which is wonderful if done with mindfulness and love. So I’ll be following up with a list of ideas to make your gifting more impactful for those you love and less impactful on your level of stress, finances, and our Earth.


Letting Go

letting go


I don’t consider myself a control freak. I’m not a particularly good planner.  But I do have pretty distinct ideas about how I want my life to be.  I hold onto the notion that I am in control of creating that vision for my life.  I work hard, I do all the things I’m supposed to, I hold tight to my dream of my future, and I make it happen.

Except I don’t.  Because just as I think I have it all under control, that my life is going in exactly the direction it’s supposed to, that I’ve decided it will; life has this not-so-funny way of smacking me in the face and yelling at deafening volumes – “YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL!”

Ouch.  It stings to come to this shocking, yet all too obvious, realization.  And depending on the circumstances it is so physically, mentally, and emotionally painful.

So then what?  Then comes the hard part of letting go.  I’m humbled and heartbroken as I have to let go.  Let go of the control.  Let go of the hope and dream that my mind had selfishly wound into it’s own cocoon – embedded so tightly to provide my false sense of security.

Letting go is truly an act of grace.  Peeling back each layer, I discover unpleasant parts of myself that I strive to keep so well hidden – anger, blame, frustration, sadness.  For me, it is only through the grace of God that I can move forward, unwinding and letting go one layer at a time until I finally reach that fragile center – just my true self, needy and reliant on something far grander than my own limited powers.

But what do I gain from this difficult act of letting go?  Trust.  Trust in someone, something greater than myself.  Trust that my life is going exactly where it’s meant to, even if it’s not exactly what I imagined.  Also freedom.  Freedom from the burden of having to control my life, from being personally responsible for every tiny twist and turn and decision.  And oh what a heavy and overwhelming burden that is; what an utterly exhausting responsibility!

So is letting go easy?  No.  Is it fun?  Probably not.  But is it necessary?  Yes.  Is it possible to let go gracefully and somehow emerge stronger on the other side? Most certainly.

When the going gets tough, when I lose all control; for me it all boils down to this – it’s a God thing.  What’s meant to be will be, what’s meant for me will come.  But it’s not up to me to decide what or when or how or why.  So I hold fast to faith, I surround myself with love, and I simply let go.