That was the forecast two days ago, Christmas 2019. Felt like a nice spring day without all the pollen and bugs. This whole week has been in the mid 60s and I kinda chuckle when I see snowman blow-ups in every other yard around town. I’ve always thought it was strange that we “snow frost” everything for Christmas in the Southeast US, but we do because we just do. I kinda wonder if they do the same in Arizona.
I’ve been thinking about all the things we do for normalcy, tradition, or expectations. The kids and I were reading through the Nativity story in the books of Luke and Matthew and we pieced together that the Wise Men were not actually there on the night or even months after the birth of the Christ child.
I mentioned in past posts that we moved a few months ago. That’s had me looking for a special Nativity since we now have room in the house to display one at Christmastime. I wanted one with fewer characters, specifically minus the Wise Men. I never found something we liked but we all agreed if we did, we’d just remove the Wise Men.
I mentioned this to my mom one afternoon (minus the Wise Men issue) and she said she had a Nativity she’d made when she was pregnant with me and she’d be honored if I wanted it. Of course I wanted it! She had not displayed it for several years and I had forgotten all about it. It’s vintage, beautiful and most importantly, made by my mom. It’s a family heirloom and it has Wise Men and three separate Wise Men’s camels. And I don’t even care because it’s more important to me than any set I could buy at Kirkland’s.
But let’s look at the two nativities. The one that I would have bought verses my mom’s. In reality, either set is just stuff I’m adding to my house. I’m sure the one I bought would have been nice, ceramic, maybe even hand painted like my mom’s. Had I bought a set, I would have taken the Wise Men out straight to the donation box and would have felt like I was doing so for the right reason – authenticating the Nativity story.
With my mom’s set, removing them would have been for the wrong reason because it would have devalued the heirloom. We’ll still talk about how they are not supposed to be there and wonder why she made another character who looks like a panhandler that we named Leonard. It will be a quirky Christmas story with the Wise Men and Leonard along for the ride and I’ll feel like I kept them to enjoy, not because that’s just the way it’s supposed to be.
This is just one very specific example of how the ‘Why?’ can add importance or insignificance to stuff. There are many factors to consider when making stuff decisions but I think just simply asking, “Why am I keeping or buying this?” is the first and simplest question. Every other consideration comes after.
I can’t and haven’t kept everything my mom has ever given me and I don’t have a deep heartfelt connection to everything I do own, but I do want to find authenticity and intentionality for what I keep and discard, because when I look back over the course of my adult life I’ve added too many things to my home because it just seemed to be expected or normal. There in lies the trap that leads to clutter. We once bought a dining room table, kept it for 10 years, never used it and sold it for a third of what we paid for it. It was a completely useless piece of furniture in my house that took up an entire room we could have used more efficiently. My expectations were made by no one except my own made up idea of what adulting looked like rather than what specifically worked for my adult life.
My son received a few presents this Christmas that he didn’t want, but felt guilty to let them go because they had been given to him. When we discussed why it’s not life giving to keep something out of guilt, he decided to ask the giver to return them because we felt comfortable enough with her to let her know, otherwise we would have donated them. As proud of him as I was that he made the right decision, sometimes that giver might be me and I got to be ok with my kids not liking everything I thought may have been a special gift for them. Ouch!
So the moral of the story is Keep Things for the Right Reasons. What works for you and what doesn’t? The things that don’t are just clutter. Know your ‘Why?’.
Happy Holidays and Blessings in the New Year.
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