Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I was watching a reality show last night (yes, occasionally I get to watch tv once the kids are down). The family on the show decided to go camping for the weekend, so the mom was making sure they had all the gear for the trip. They were going up to the Hood River area of Oregon where they could wind surf, but for the camping part, they just needed the usual: tents, sleeping bags, lanterns. She started off looking in a barn, and climbed up a ladder to look in this one HUGE area of their storage . . . wrong barn. After trying one more barn and two storage sheds, all filled with boxes, plastic containers, and huge shelves of stuff, she found the tents in yet another storage shed behind the house. The mom started getting frustrated since there were four of five tents piled in there, but the first few she found were missing poles, dirty, or hard to get to. Eventually she just got disgusted and yelled for her four kids to get into the mini-van to go to a sporting goods store. Yep -- they bought two NEW tents and new sleeping bags for all five people, since theres were "getting run down" anyway.

This got me thinking. And got me a little convicted.

You can probably finish this blog in your head -- it's materialism. Stuff. Stuff to hold other stuff. Stuff to store stuff. Stuff to clean stuff. Stuff to make a list of the stuff. Stuff on top of the old stuff. New stuff. We have closets of stuff we haven't looked through in years. I found a box under the bed a few months ago from our move to this house . . . almost five years ago. I hadn't opened it since then.

The other day I had the luxury of wasting time in a flea market, and this place was PACKED with stuff. Forgotten stuff. Stuff that seems to no longer have value to most people. Odd dishes, toys, tablecloths, coffee mugs, cd players, posters, puzzles, candleholders, old video gaming systems, VHS tapes -- old stuff. There was also a room with new stuff (stolen? I won't guess). $75 purses, bags, and wallets -- girly stuff. Decorative stuff -- clocks,  wall hangings, ocean breeze scented decorative potpourri balls in a bowl-- sheesh. While I was there a guy traded his own cell phone on the spot for a used amp and speaker system for his car -- those ones that "boom boom" your headache into existence on the way home from work at the red light.

We also started our Christmas shopping this past weekend. Chris and I had our first night away with no kids in 8 months! It was very nice, and we discovered that Lebanon can keep their food (not a big fan of kibbe with burghul -- blech), but we figured we'd fit Chrismas shopping into our day out. First stop: Toys 'R Us -- a.k.a. "Stuffville" for kids. It was so overwhelming in there. Stuff piled up so high, multiple employees are stocking, locating, and climbing nonstop to get the stuff to you. They talk to one another on walkie-talkies to help you find the stuff you want. We saw a little boy kicking and screaming at his parents, while, at the very same time, they were trying to find help to get a $400 Cadillac Escalade motorized riding toy down from this shelf. For this same kid. For Christmas. The kicking one. The one screaming at them to "shut up."

It's all just overwhelming sometimes, isn't it? I've heard lots of people talking about moving stuff out or packing stuff up to make room for the new stuff they'll get for Christmas. A lot of families have scaled down the gift giving this year since many of us are still a little on edge over the economy, but scaling down for most will still include a pretty obscene amount of stuff.

I love giving gifts, although I'm not the best shopper; I love getting gifts (I've found a new perfume I like -- Bath and Body Works "Velvet Tuberose" if you're taking notes); I absolutely love the look on a kid's face when he opens a toy that seems too good to be true; I hope Ellie loves her dollhouse. But after watching that woman on the tv show dig through piles of stuff only to decide that her stuff wasn't good enough and she should go buy newer, better stuff, I felt like I was drowning in stuff. Maybe we can make just a few changes to stop, or at least slow, the "Cycle of Stuff". Even if we can ignore the less fortunate in our own country, not to mention the much greater needs in less developed countries, it's also just not logical to accumulate tons of stuff, only to discover we can't afford to buy the steak to eat off of our new Christmas china.

So, instead of buying an Inflatable Nativity Scene:

or a Snowman Toilet Cover . . .

This Christmas, maybe we should save that money and give it in the name of Jesus to someone next door or across the globe who would think they hit the jackpot if I gave them all the crap in my storage shed I don't even know is there. Not preaching to anyone besides me. Just saying.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bed Head

Ellie's ridiculous morning hair strikes again!