This morning I attended a little concert my daughters school was having where are the little three and four-year olds (my munchkin included) were singing Christmas songs to us. I was not a big production, but it was beautiful, and it meant a lot to them.
Before the performance I took a look around the room. Not at the stage area, but the audience. I saw that it was surprisingly scarce of parents, fathers in particular. Now I am sure that many of these fathers have good reason not to show, but not all of them. I know this because I have been there before. I heard it from my father, my mother, and from many other parents before. I hear it all the time actually from parents nowadays:
“I’m not really into those things, my daughter understands.”
“I couldn’t make it to the performance because I was working a double shift.”
“I’m not gonna take off from work just because they have a school function, that’s ridiculous.”
Let me start by saying that anyone using anything like excuse number one is clearly not meant to be a parent. This level of selfishness should have been considered before procreating. As a result they will never develop a close bond with their child. Instead they will grow old and wonder why they don’t have that bond.
Excuses numbers two and three hold value as a legitimate reason…….but only if it is necessary for survival. But I do find that the parents that tend to give these reasons are very “well to do”. Reasons like this lose their luster when their coming from a father in an Armani suit speaking to you through the window of their BMW. All this really means is “I am far more interested in buying, keeping, and maintaining these nifty toys than being involved in my child’s life.”
We don’t live to work, people! We certainly don’t live to collect nifty things either. It is time we get our priorities straight. Our lives, and our children’s lives are happening right now. Instead of working your butt off to have and maintain lavish things, spend that time instead with your children. And for those of you who don’t have children, spend time with yourself. Think deeply about what you really want in life.
It’s that time of year again. Where we get to see humanity at its best……and worst. We see people shower family and friends with joy, love, and gifts. But we also see people crowd the stores for the best deals on merchandise. They push, elbow, yell at, and occasionally get physically confrontational with strangers for the sake of acquiring merch for their loved ones. We see them wait on line for hours for the latest tech. All this pain and suffering for the sake of more “stuff”.
To make this Christmas better, let us first remember that it is “people” who are important not “things”. We may all be strangers to each other, but under God we are all bothers and sisters. We should be thinking of each other that way, and therefore treating each other that way.
Second, let us remember that life is all about people and experiences. With that in mind, give the gift of experiences to your loved ones. That is, give them the gift of activities they might enjoy. Perhaps even something they have never done before.
Need some ideas. Here are some:
A dinner date
A Swedish massage at the local spa (my fave)
A night on the town
A wine tasting tour
A Theater show (Broadway, or off-Broadway)
Seats at a sporting event
Casino trip (I don’t condone gambling……but just saying)
A sporting experience (white water rafting, kayaking, hiking, water skiing, sailing, tubing, bicycle touring, sky diving, etc)
Let me also add, that if we are going out to shop, be cautious. It’s “The Wild West” out there during this season. Also, shop local; support your local small businesses. The least we can do is make sure the enormous amounts of money we spend for Christmas go toward stimulating our local economy, which in the end, goes right back to us.
It has come to my attention that some people, some minimalists have a hard time determining whether a possession of theirs is valuable enough to be worth keeping. To be honest there is no solid mental process for determining these things. I myself struggle with this very often. When this happens to me, when I am divided between keeping something and discarding it, I ask myself a few key questions. These questions are:
Is the time I spend maintaining this thing longer than the time I spend using/enjoying this thing?
Is the money I spend maintaining this thing the best use of that money, or could I be spending that money on something I could get far more value out of?
Is the amount of physical space this thing is taking worth the gain (tougher to determine).
Question 1 is the deal breaker. If I spend more time maintaining something than I do using/enjoying it, bye bye.
Question 2 is also a deal breaker.
Question 3 is not quite so straight forward. So It will often require more thought.
Here are some examples of things I discarded in my life based on these guidelines:
MTG Card Collection
Kidney (Just kidding)
Wife (and the jokes just keep on coming)
Presently I do have a large comic book collection that I have not touched in ages. I have not gotten rid of it for investment purposes…….and admittedly sentimental reasons. But for all practicality, while it requires no maintenance or money to keep (anymore), it is taking up half my closet. I just can’t bring myself to do it. I am far from the perfect minimalist. But as with all things, it’s not the destination, but the journey that makes it all worth while.