I hate stuff.
Remember last year when I railed on about the clutter we had acquired? I realize I sounded like an ungrateful wretch. But there's just a large part of me that REJECTS stuff and the whole idea of it. Some part of me that wants to be 100% rid of it. Live in a cob house...and own...I don't know...a bed. (Remember when I posted this picture a few months ago?
I hate stuff.
And that's just on the "stuff" level. There are deeper, darker issues involved, as you may know. I'm going to share a link with you here. I really, really, really want you to watch it. I want you to because I've had ENOUGH with the STUFF! And there's so much more to the story. And I'm a believer in getting the WHOLE truth out there. I'm a believer in sharing what I've learned because I want the world to be a bit of a better place if it can be and because I want better for YOU, too. Anyway, it's long. It's twenty minutes long. So. If you don't have time to watch it right this very second, then just promise me that you will come back and watch it. Watch it through to the end. Because STUFF is awful!! (It's true.)
Go here and click Watch Now under "The Story of Stuff."
Anyway, as I continue to deal with the clutter in our home, and I prepare for CHRISTmas Day and what it will entail as far as presents to our children this year, I am struggling. Again. Am I the only one???? Surely not. Surely I'm not the only one who feels pangs of guilt when purchasing dorky little pieces of plastic I KNOW will be destroyed, lost, and/or forgotten in a year or two...if THAT!! When I KNOW there are people who can't even afford to FEED their children one bite of food. I HATE that. I hate that it is that way. That there is such an imbalance. And yet, I actually feel pangs of guilt for putting those plastic toys DOWN and absolutely NOT purchasing them! I do! Like I'm somehow depriving my kids of some delight. Seriously, this weakness inside of me is disgusting. Truly disgusting. That's just how twisted my thinking is. It's how twisted our culture is! We all have FAAAARRR too much stuff!!
I've been reading a book on organization and becoming clutter-free. (Get this: the title is It's All Too Much! Does that resonate with anyone out there???) One thing the author suggests is that at this time of year it is important to speak to your loved-ones about your new commitment to keeping STUFF out of your home and life, especially during the holidays. It's so easy to just go out and spend, spend, spend on all kinds of STUFF to wrap up for your family members. After all, you love them and want to GIVE them things. Right? And that's a good thing!! Don't get me wrong.
Stop and think for just a minute.
What do you remember about your childhood? Do you remember the gifts? Really??!! Specifically??? Oh, yeah sure. Maybe you remember that ONE thing for which you'd been pining for over five months, and you finally GOT IT!! But was it really everything you had hoped? Did it fulfill you?! Did that feeling last? All the way until right now?? Of course not!!
I mean, I don't know about you, but I DO remember getting GOBS of presents as a child, and sometimes, yes sometimes, actually thinking to myself that it wasn't enough! It's hard to admit that. But it's true. What a spoiled brat I was.
Now that I've outgrown all the STUFF I got all those years ago and it's no longer cluttering the shelves of my childhood bedroom (at least, most of it isn't), I have disconnected myself from the NEED of even remembering the stuff. Instead, you know what I remember? I remember playing school with my brothers. I remember the hundreds of bowls of oatmeal my Mamaw made for me on Wednesday nights while my parents were at choir practice. I remember baking cookies with my mom and using my very own little tiny baking set, complete with cookie cutters and a mini-rolling pin. I remember picking strawberries with my granddaddy. I remember making pralines with my Aunt Lisa. I remember playing with my cousins. I remember trips to Natchez and Vicksburg and Magic Springs with my grandparents. I remember fishing and eating blackberry cobbler and watermelon with my other grandparents. I remember "Girl's Day Out" (a clothes-shopping trip when I could pick out what I liked and then go watch a movie) with my mom. I remember just staying up late talking with friends and family. I remember Disney World vacations. I even remember very fondly a "VACATION" to Little Rock during which we stayed at the Holiday Inn, swam, ate out, played mini-golf, went to Wild River Country, and had a very inexpensive BLAST!!
Why is it that these are the things I remember? And why have I forgotten the dozens and dozens of dolls, knick-knacks, jewelry, and toys I received over the years? Well, besides the fact that I received waaaaaayyy too much stuff and couldn't possibly remember it all, I have the above memories burned into my mind because they involve the people I love. These are memories that will live on (in some form or another) in my mind for as long as I live. THAT is what you really want from a GIFT, is it not? THAT is what I want for myself, for my children, and for all of those I love.
What might one get for a CHRISTmas gift that would build memories like these?????
Here's a list of potential ideas:
1. Tickets to a play, concert, or show for you and your loved-one to attend together.
2. Special days of cooking or baking together.
3. Going out for special breakfasts together.
4. Taking a trip together. For a weekend. For a week. Far away or nearby. (It really wouldn't matter.)
5. Taking that person shopping to pick out something he/she really needs.
6. Helping someone else (NOT in your family) together.
7. Playing games together.
8. Taking walks together.
9. Forming new traditions.
Do you get the idea?
Doesn't that sound better than your children opening fifteen plus packages of plastic junk they will get in trouble with later because they threw one of them at their sister or forgot to pick it up after being told three times? Wouldn't you rather spend a day with your loved-one doing something extra special, sharing jokes, looking into each other's eyes, having a new experience, just talking, making precious memories? Wouldn't you?
And then there's THIS reason...
Anyone else want to crawl in a hole??!?
Alright, so I've shared with you about Operation CHRISTmas Child. (Send your shoe boxes, by the way! Remember you can send them year-round. Imagine if we each sent one box per month! Wouldn't that be crazy??) Now I want to encourage you to check out Advent Conspiracy from the above promo. When it began, four churches challenged their congregations to buy ONE LESS gift at CHRISTmastime and instead to give away the money they would have spent on that gift. The result was over half a million dollars raised to help those in actual NEED. Cool, huh?
Also, my family has this place where we like to make donations of our "stuff." Instead of taking things to Goodwill (where they will be sold), we like to take them to Little Rock Compassion Center where they will be GIVEN to the most needy in our community. This is a Christian organization that seeks to feed, clothe, shelter, care for, and TEACH the homeless of Little Rock. It is run by a very godly couple who have truly made a difference in the lives of so many in our area. I'm telling you, this place is the real deal. Go see it for yourself!!
We've been putting together bunches of "stuff" to take to them. We know they can USE it. There will be children there who NEED something delightful to occupy them. There will be men, women, and children who NEED the clothing we don't. I'm telling you about it to encourage you to think of going there next time you have a load of unwanted clutter to rid yourself of. AND I wanted you to know that you can also help feed and care for people this CHRISTmas season by sending a monetary donation. In fact, you can feed someone a full CHRISTmas dinner with all the trimmings for a mere $1.69!! You can feed 10 people for $16.90!! Seriously, why not??! And for those of you with some serious cash lying around, ...$169 will feed 100 people! (I'm such a math whiz!) Now's the time! Contact them directly (links above and below) to see how you can help right now!
More about LRCC (taken directly from a recent letter):
Last year they served more than 140,000 hot meals and food pantry boxes.
They provide a safe, clean place to sleep for 200 men each night, with extra family rooms for women and families.
They provide tutorial programs to help people obtain a G.E.D.
They have worship services on Sundays and Wednesdays in which Jesus is lifted up as Lord over every problem.
How can you help?
Pray, take your donations, show up and help out, send your money...
The Little Rock Compassion Center
William and Rosemary Holloway
3618 W. Roosevelt Rd.
Little Rock, AR 72204
All donations are tax-deductible.