Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Minimalism and Gift Giving

So we're only a couple of days out from the biggest gift giving holiday of the year. Oh, yeah, and something religious, peace and joy, etc, etc.

Because of my interest in minimalism I am hesitant to give gifts that will simply be clutter in someone else's home. I am reluctant to give gifts that will eventually end up in a landfill somewhere. According to the Story of Stuff,  99% of the stuff we harvest, mine, transport and consume is trash within six months. Minimalism, to me, isn't about contributing to that statistic.

I've already written about giving consumable gifts instead of durable goods. Seriously, though, people grow and sometimes they need goods to help them through new stages of their lives. People develop new interests, or remember old interests, and they need things to help them achieve their goals. Buying second-hand (thrift or vintage/antique) creates minimal environmental impact while still meeting a person's needs. This Christmas my husband and my son are each receiving games I bought used, with all their parts, on ebay or a thrift store. My nephew is receiving a pair of Coca-Cola mugs, with other Coca-Cola related memorabilia, and snacks. The glasses came from a thrift store, but they look like new because glasses don't deteriorate over time (except that time you drop them from the table. But that happens all at once).

Gifting has been difficult in my house this year because I am approaching minimalism, and so are members of my family. Not everyone, but some of us. But here's the thing. Most of the things my kids have been looking forward to are not the gifts. My daughter loves making and delivering cookies to our neighbors. It's not a simple activity, but it's part of what brings her joy each year. Going to look at Christmas lights. Sneaking around, hiding activities and conspiring in gift giving activities. Receiving "coupons" from Mom or each other for passes to escape from chores. All these things can be done without creating the sort of clutter that gets returned or thrown away each year.

I hope the holidays bring you joy -- whatever holidays you celebrate. Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years. I hope you feel peace and joy, on your holidays and throughout the year.

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