The holidays are upon us again, the economy sucks, again…and yet the masses of people cannot seem to rein in the “wanting of stuff”. Because we NEED more stuff. Lots of stuff. Christmas is my favorite time of year, in that, I love to decorate my house, and love doing Christmas-y things – like just walking around downtown to look at the lights, watching Christmas movies, and of course, indulging in eggnog at inappropriate times. However, I have been called a Scrooge on more than one occasion, because of the fact that for the life of me, I cannot fathom this idea of buying lots and lots of shit for people, just because it is Christmas. I don’t get it.
Santa Claus visits my lil man every year. He still believes in Santa and I am not swaying his thinking. However, Santa also visits lil man’s dad’s house, and then that side of the family of course, goes all out to spoil lil man. Ok, fine. So because of all that, Santa does not explode into my house with a truckload of shit – lil man has enough shit. To counteract this, I decided that instead of buying lil man more shit, that for the week of Christmas break he was with me, we would do things instead, around Indy, such as seeing shows, movies, baking cookies at home, having a game day, movie/pajama day…and it has worked out super well. He cannot tell me who gave him what Lego set, but he knows for a fact that last year we raced down the Yule slide at the Children’s Museum a dozen and a half times, and he beat me every time. It’s the experience that counts.
I am a purger. I purge shit from my house regularly. I have begun to teach lil man the art of purging as well. At Christmas, and after his birthday, we sort through all of his shit, and he knows that he will assess what he actually uses or plays with, and what he does not. Old books, games, toys, etc, are then given to the Wheeler Mission or Goodwill. This controls the accumulation of shit, and keeps lil man in check about what is a realistic amount of “things”.
Over Thanksgiving, we served dinner at the Wheeler Mission for Women & Children, and he got a front and center glimpse into the lives of some kids his age, that have no home. They eat at that center every day, and do not have 1/4 of the amount of stuff that we have. On the way home, after serving dinner, we discussed it in depth, as he asked a lot of questions. He made the comment, “Well, I am just glad that is not us.” And I responded, “Well, I can appreciate your feeling, buddy, but there is nothing preventing that from happening to us. If I was to lose my job tomorrow, and could not make rent, where would we live? That could EASILY be us, and do not lose sight of that. Do not take that for granted.” I am a proponent of getting him to think about the world outside of our little apartment.
At work, we have sponsored 4 families through the United Way who have requested help this Christmas. If you have never done that, please look into it. So we have a list of these families, and their ages, and what they have indicated that they want or need. What is being done is wonderful, but I find it to be interesting how these requests are ‘judged’. One of the families, there is a 9 year old little girl that asked for a TV and a baby doll. Another family has a 15 year old boy who asked for science books and an iPod touch. People look at the “techno” items, and immediately sigh under their breath and make commentary like, “I can’t believe THEY are asking for an iPod touch! They SHOULD be asking for clothes and food.”
Let me tell you that it is all I can do to not jump that person’s ass right then. So IF you would happen to ever be one of these people, to make a comment like this, please let me educate you kindly on something.
The kids are asked what they want. The kids answer. In many instances, the answer is “anything”. Some are specific. A kid is a kid is a kid. A poor child wants the same toys as a non-poor child. There is not a section for “Poor-kid toys” and “Non-Poor kid toys” at the store….they are all kids and they want the same things as your child does. I can just about guarantee, that the younger ones, have no clue that they are seen as “poor”.
When I was a kid, we were poor. My parents would buy their cars off the cash only lots, and this one in particular, was an old white work van, that had no heat and plywood in the back windows. The carpet was stained so badly with oil that you dared not touch it, and my dad worked on it about as much as he drove it. I didn’t realize that was a ‘poor car’. I didn’t realize when I ate stale cereal occasionally for dinner; it was because we had no other food in the house. I do know though, that when Christmas came around, I asked Santa Claus for the same stuff I saw on TV, or that my friends asked for.
So, my point is,
1. Before you buy a bunch of shit for people that you know they don’t need, consider spending time with them instead. They will remember the time long after they would remember the “stuff”.
2. Consider doing a purge in your house to get rid of the current mass of shit you have. Donate it to the Wheeler Mission – they will take everything and put it to good use!
3. If you ARE giving or helping out a family, for fuck’s sake - don’t judge them. We are all only a paycheck away from similar situations anyway.