Since embarking on this journey to live simply and reduce my material possessions, I have frequently been told that my kids are missing out during holidays or birthdays by not receiving piles of stuff. I am often asked whether or not I think my kids will resent me for it. No, I certainly don’t think they will.
Since we’ve reduced our consumption of stuff, we’ve increased our time together and made new traditions. Instead of filling their Christmas stockings packed full of $1 store toys that will end up broken or lost within a month, they get a journal, colored pencils, a peg gnome and a chocolate orange. They certainly look forward to these items, but they look forward to us making cookies, identifying constellations, and reading Christmas stories even more! I remember the last time we bought dozens of Made in China toys for my oldest daughter, and as I watched her just throw each one down and reach for the next one and the next one and the next one with little interest in what they were, and more interest in just seeing pile of them, I realized this was not the life I wanted. Even before we started truly downsizing, we started minimizing.
I often hear people lamenting a more simple time, when traditions were honored over possessions, and family was the reason for the season. People are tired of hallmark holidays and consumer driven gift purchases. Instead of glorifying the monstrous birthday parties with hundreds of dollars in gifts, I want our family to strive for warm get togethers with close family and friends. I don’t want gifts to be the center of things… mostly because that’s what cake is for. Well, cake and the people we love celebrating with us.
The way back to simplicity is, in fact, simple. All we need to do is stop trying to keep up with (or impress) the Jones’. Our kids crave traditions more than toys until we teach them otherwise. The honest truth is, people on their death bead rarely, if ever, regret not buying the newest things, but often regret not spending more time with the people they love.