A few days ago I painstakingly wrapped glass Christmas ornaments in tissue paper and tucked them back into the large bins where we store them from year to year. Each ornament has a story; when my brother and I were born, our parents started an ornament collection for each of us, and those grew every year. One of our mother’s friends traveled frequently all over the world and brought us ornaments from every country she visited. I was fortunate to marry someone who loves Christmas decorations as much as I do, so each year he and I give each other an ornament and we buy one wherever we travel.
Thus as I put the snowman crocheted by my great aunt, the wooden nativity from Jerusalem, and the “Our First Christmas” photo frame ornament away, it occurred to me that if our house caught on fire, the ornament collection might be the first thing I’d try to save!
It’s amazing how we get attached to stuff and how easy it is to acquire more and more of it; I sheepishly admit that the ornaments which used to fit into one box now spill over into two large bins.
I like my stuff. While I want to think I’m not a materialistic person, I know I like my stuff, especially those things which have sentimental value.
Harold Percy wrote, “We have been designed by God to give, not to amass.” We live in a culture of “more is better”, where we’re pushed to “keep up with the Joneses” and to get the latest version of everything, even if there’s nothing wrong with the one we have. Unfortunately my generation and those younger than me are much more likely to replace something that’s broken or torn rather than to have it fixed or mended. More stuff.
Earlier this week someone from my neighborhood’s Facebook group posted about living a minimal lifestyle; she had read a book titled “Zero Waste Home” and was trying to find folks who were interested in sharing with their neighbors. This intrigued me as we just bought our first house and have slowly been buying one of everything: chainsaw, extension ladder, leaf blower, snow shovel. More stuff. How great would it be to have relationships with our neighbors and share things with them? Giving rather than amassing?
With all this in mind, I’ve set a small goal for myself, which is to be intentional about how much stuff I acquire this year. What will happen if I am more apt to give to someone else rather than to myself?
“The scriptures are filled with exhortations for God’s people to be thankful and to live lives of gratitude. When we think of our lives more in terms of gratitude and contentment as we grow in this adventure of following Jesus, we are free to think more seriously about generosity.” –Harold Percy
What stuff can you do without this year? How will you experience the joy that comes from generosity and share in God’s own will for and work in the world?