Would You Give Up Gift-Giving?

“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you need to be in their lives today.”

– Unknown

Day 198.

When you reflect upon your childhood, what are some of your fondest memories? Was it the Nintendo Gameboy you received? Or maybe the Air Pressure Super Soaker, or Scorch, the cute and loveable Beanie Baby?

The fulfillment and joy that encompassed my childhood did not come from the gifts given to me, but from the moments shared among those I cherished. Moments filled with laughter and love, teachable moments where my parents chose to instill lifelong values.

If given the option, would you give up gift-giving?

“According to a new Harris Poll survey on behalf of SunTrust, 69% of Americans said they would.”

“43% of respondents said they feel pressured to buy gifts and spend more money than they can afford. With the extra time and money saved by eliminating gift-giving, 60% of Americans said they’d spend more time with loved ones, 47% would save money or invest it, 37% would pay down debt and 25% said they would use the money on activities with friends and family.”

(https://www.ajc.com/news/national/nearly-americans-say-they-give-gift-giving-this-holiday-season-would-you/l2PTRFjwFzMnnsQlX6KBFO/)

This year my husband and I came to the decision to, “switch gears”, and give our daughter a Wee-Ride for her birthday! It is like a regular bicycle that connects to the parent’s bike, allowing your child to ride with you.

Instead of giving her another toy, why don’t we give her a gift we can all share in? The gift of memories!

– My Husband

We have tried with much success this year, not to buy our children’s happiness, but to gift them with opportunities for happiness. Giving the gift of experiences, fulfillment, and memories!

Our children are growing at a substantial rate, and we had to replace their bicycles with new ones, and they could not be happier! Both my husband and I have had the pleasure to share in our children’s excitement!

I watched as each of my children sped past me on their new bicycles, the melodious sounds of their laughter like that of a wind chime. It brought both a sense of joy and peace into my heart, they were happy! It was at that moment that I realized how vitally important these family outings would be for our children. Why?

“Love is not about how often you say I love you, but how often you prove it to be true!”

Our children will not be children forever! They do not want our money, though they may ask for it on occasion. They want both our time and affection. They want moments shared with their Father, after he returns home from work, maybe reading a favorite book! They want moments shared with their Mother, playing hide-and-seek, whilst hiding in one of the kitchen cabinets! They want cuddles, and kisses – they want moments filled with giggles and grins, and fits of laughter! They want us to present them with the chance to create memorable moments – the only expectation being for them to be who they truly are… children!

My step-son came to stay with us this month, following suit with his siblings, he inquired multiple times if we were going on a bike ride after Dad came home. He stayed with us for a month, and we thoroughly enjoyed him being here!  We have played several games together, been outdoors, and laughed ourselves silly!

Looking back, I know that my children will appreciate these moments, and remember them far more than they would with any new toy we might have bought them. 

Every day is a new opportunity for us as parents to give our children the greatest gift of all, the gift of ourselves, our presence and our time!

Putting Minamalism Into Action

“Imagine a life with less. Less stuff, less clutter, less stress and debt and discontent.”

– The Minimalists

Day 90.

January has come and gone, much like an old, beloved song on the radio. The same goes for many of the items in our home!

I sat on the floor of my son’s room, trash sack in hand, neatly folding his clothes into the bag. Suddenly, I found myself feeling a sense of sentimentality and a sense of loss. “What am I doing?” I thought to myself. “Why am I doing this? I can’t do this!”  I paused, and without thought enshrouded the soft, green pajamas around my face; deeply inhaling my son’s scent. After several long minutes, I realized what had caused the abrupt sense of disquietude.

It felt as though I was throwing away a part of my son! As though I was about to lose something of great importance and value. Suddenly, the simple task of gathering together ill-fitting clothing seemed… difficult. But why?

Oftentimes we hold onto things to fill a certain void in our lives. We tell ourselves, “I simply cannot bring myself to part with this,” or “if I throw this out I’ll be losing a part of that person, or myself, or the memories tied to this item!”

There are copious amounts of reasons as to why people have a difficult time letting go of their belongings:

  • The item(s) hold certain sentimental value
  • We feel guilt over the amount spent on that item, whether we bought it ourselves, or it was gifted to us
  • We worry we may need the item in the near future
  • The item becomes a “someday” item, meaning we tell ourselves, “someday I’m going to become a seamstress and will need all of this fabric!
  • We struggle with an obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • We struggle with hoarding

Based on a scientific study done over a 23-year span by Jack Samuels at John Hopkins University, not all people who have OCD are hoarders. “Now, we know that only one-third of people with OCD exhibit hoarding behavior, that many people without OCD hoard, and we suspect that genes can play a key role in it.

http://archive.magazine.jhu.edu/2011/11/why-can%E2%80%99t-some-people-throw-anything-away/

My reasoning for not wanting to discard my son’s clothing was nary so momentous as someone struggling with hoarding or OCD. Alas, I couldn’t help but feel sharp pangs of guilt weighing heavily upon my heart.

So what do I do now?

“How do I move past these feeling?” 

“Is this ok that I’m feeling this way, should I be feeling this way?” 

I took a deep breath, inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my mouth. I let my eyes fall shut and at that moment, a small giggle heedlessly egressed from my lips. I opened my eyes and said to myself, “it’s just stuff… that’s all it is!” Once I heard these words I repeated them aloud, again… and again… and again.

Everything I was experiencing was perfectly normal, and I’d given myself the few moments required to feel what I was feeling. I knew if I wanted to truly continue on this journey I had begun, I had to be stronger than my emotions. I had to set my emotions to the side and allow logic to play its part. I couldn’t allow the things filling our home to control me.

With a renewed sense of purpose, I took the green pajamas that belonged to my son and plunged them into the large white sack. As an added encouragement I asked myself, “what is it that has brought me to this point?”

  • I had established my goal at the beginning of the year; to live a calm, minimalistic, peaceful life!
  • I am a person who enjoys doing research before diving into anything. I began by watching the documentary on Netflix, The Minimalists.
  • I had the respect and support of my loved ones.
  • I expanded upon my main goal and made it a point to get rid of one unnecessary thing each day.
  • Each time I felt any sort of hesitation to discard something in my home, I paused and closed my eyes. Telling myself and asking myself, “It’s just stuff! Is this something you truly need? Is this something deeply sentimental? Can I live without it?”
  • I made two very strict rules for myself: #1. If I’ve not seen it or used it for 6 months or more, then it needs to go. #2. Once the item is in the bag or box, it cannot come out!
  • And finally, refusing to give up!

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