As many of you know, I have this strange love for minimalism. I say strange because I also sometimes dislike minimalism and want stuff, stuff and more stuff.
This seems more common than I anticipated when I first began reading about the ‘movement.’ I’m on a few Facebook pages, and there are tons of people who love the idea but somehow resist the execution of minimalism - that is, they want to declutter and get rid of junk, but instead they scroll through their Facebook feeds and read about it instead.
I’ve been there.
I’ve also been through the KonMari cleansing phase, and I’ve regretted getting rid of gifts and books that I felt were no longer bringing me joy but that later I thought: wow, I wish I’d kept that cookbook for that one recipe because I really want to make that one recipe right this very second.
Anyway, there is forever a debate in the minimalism world about gifts. I’ve felt this inner turmoil myself. Do I need to give other people junk and useless items that will be discarded in the future? Am I going against my values if I gift people stuff I’m not okay with (not drugs or porn, per se, but just more clutter or technology or whatever)? Does anyone ever really want a handmade gift? Do people think handmade granola is cool or gross? Do they throw it away when I’ve gone, turning to a spouse and saying, “I have no idea if she washed here hands before cooking.”
I have run into the gifting issue with a few people from the other perspective as well - that is, I’ve had people give me gifts I don’t want because what I do want doesn’t match their values. I know people who refuse to shop online, so they can only purchase local items. If I don’t want or need items from their area, that presents a bit of a challenge. I know people who think gifts should be thoughtful and original and personal, so they go shopping for bits I might like that they see, as they meander through town, and I am the recipient of sometimes lovely gifts and other times odds and ends I must later toss into the Goodwill pile, after exhausting inner turmoil and discourse.
I’ve often thought the exchange of gifts is just a time-consuming exchange of money. We usually try to gift on par with the other person, spending roughly the same amount, putting in roughly the same amount of thought, packaging the gifts in roughly the same style of wrapping.
Is it worth it? Should we do away with gift-giving altogether? Should we all be focused on experiences and valuable time together rather than random bits and bobs?
Or is there sheer joy in tearing open festive paper, slicing a sliver of tape with our fingernail and opening up a box that holds (be still my heart) some fancy Tatcha skincare?
I remember, as a girl, reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and thinking how little they got for Christmas but how special it all seemed. Then, that same year, I got a pair of Guess socks, with the little triangles on the ankle, and felt pretty badass in those, the whole here’s your orange and rag doll for Christmas heart-meting all but forgotten.
What do you think? Do you love gifts? Do you think it’s all traded time and money that could be better spent? Is there so much emphasis on gift-giving in our culture that the specialness (for lack of a better word) gets lost? Is anyone else freaked out by kids who actually get tired of opening gifts and start to get lackluster by the end, as if opening yet another box is almost more than they can muster?
And if you don’t want to engage in all of it, if you morally and financially want to opt out, can you do it without being a Scrooge? When is it time to set your own standards aside for the good of the majority, and when do we stand up and say: I’m buying local, dammit, not off your Amazon list!
I’ll end with this gem I saw on Becoming Minimalist’s Facebook page. I mean….if I was going to stick to my guns…this would be a great way to do it. ;)
I hope everyone has had a lovely Monday. I’m recovering from an impromptu visit to Asheville, 4 hours there on Saturday and 4 hours back on Sunday. The good news? The kids and I had a blast. The Biltmore was even astounding for an 11 and 13-year-old.