We find ourselves in that most wonderful time of the year — the Christmas season. People are decorating, baking, and sending out Christmas cards. And, of course, shopping for gifts!
The malls, stores, and internet sites are packed with holiday shoppers out to get the best deals and spend lots of money, all in order to let their loved ones know how much they are loved.
But, I wonder every year as this season approaches, does stuff really equal love? Does buying things genuinely communicate affection?
In my presentations on how to organize a home, I am constantly sharing our need to cut back, cut out, cut down, and cut away. Why?
Simply put, we have too much stuff. I hope this Christmas season you’ll be inspired to adopt a maxim that will change your life, in small and large ways. And it will also protect you from developing a hoarding mentality:
“When you buy something new, give away two.”
So, how does this translate to Christmas shopping? Simply put, when you buy that new sweater for your hubby or that new trendy pair of shoes for your teen, encourage them and help them to give away at least two of something — maybe a shirt, pants, or old jacket.
Buy a new book? Clear away two or three books from your shelf that you’ll never read again — and share them with a friend. This is a fabulous time to teach your children the real joy of Christmas giving, by helping them purge their toy bins, book shelves, and clothes closets in order to share with those who are really in need.
At this season, really more than any other, our culture tries to get us to focus on the commercial side of things. Think about how much stuff we bring into our offices and homes compared to how much goes out. We focus on buying new office furniture or a new gadget, a sweater, suit, shoes, couch, table or TV, but rarely do we spend any time focused on eliminating. When was the last time you intentionally gave away two of anything when you brought something new?
Sharing our good fortune with those less fortunate is a freeing, liberating experience. Gathering, packing, and taking our used furniture, or clothes to the nearest Salvation Army or local church ministry that distributes to the needy can help set you free from a hoarding mentality and develop a less cluttered and more easily maintained life.
Other national organizations are Angel Tree and Toys for Tots. Also, a quick search of the internet will also yield local “mom and pop” thrift stores that would be delighted to receive your donation.
Homeless shelters and safe houses for abused women and children also receive donations of used clothing for their patrons. A quick search of the internet will yield the names of local churches who desire clothing for mission groups to distribute overseas. There are myriads of places to which we can donate our used items.
Seneca, an early Roman philosopher, expressed this truth well: “It is not the man who has so little who is poor; it’s the man who constantly craves for more.”
So, next time you get something new, give away two!
And may peace, joy and generosity be the gifts you experience this Christmas! These are gifts that truly last the whole year through! Merry Christmas to you and yours!