Guest Blog Submitted by Chad Brown, Knoxville, TN
While watching a recent NBC Nightly News special series Back to Basics, I was reminded just how excessive many of our lives have become. We have so much “stuff,” as if possessions are the ultimate way to keep score in our lives.
The series, which ran in November, highlighted how many Americans are reprioritizing and simplifying their lives by downsizing to smaller homes and/or disposing of unnecessary items. It featured one man’s quest to downsize to a few “key” belongings by selling or donating the majority of his possessions. He said his goal was to preserve memories through experiences with family and friends vs. the accumulation of “things.” A bit drastic perhaps, but the idea seems to be catching on.
When my wife and I first married, we had family friends visit us from Switzerland. My wife’s family had met them on the mission field when she was a child and remained close through the years. When they arrived in the States, I remember their reactions and observations as first-time visitors – everything was large, loud and excessive. This was their lasting impression of our culture, and for the most part, they were right.
We are extremely fortunate to live in America and enjoy so much prosperity; however, this also provides us the opportunity to share those “once loved, but now not needed” belongings with those who really need them. The beautiful thing about our capitalistic society is that for every person interested in simplifying and downsizing, there is an equally eager group of folks out there looking to find a great deal – the thrill of the hunt is almost as satisfying as the purchase itself.
Fortunately, there are great businesses and services available in the marketplace to help a downsizer match their belongings with a buyer. If selling does not interest you, there are also opportunities to donate or recycle unwanted belongings.
For instance, our daughter, like many girls her age, has an obscene amount of stuffed animals. Every year, my wife makes her prioritize them and decide which ones she would like to donate. After sanitizing them in the washer and dryer, we enjoy giving them to a local shelter that provides a cuddly toy to every child that passes through its door. Not only does this experience reduce unwanted clutter in our house and prevent the toy from ending up in a landfill, but it allows us to help provide a sense of joy to someone less fortunate.
As you celebrate the holidays this season, try to remember that “stuff” doesn’t equal true wealth. Every item you bring into your house will eventually have to be sorted, picked up, cleaned, arranged, and one day, disposed. We have found that experiences and memories are much easier to maintain!