it’s a new year.
it’s always a bit of a relief to me when the holidays are over and a new year begins, for one reason: simplicity.
i ran out of soap a few days before Christmas. and, the naive hopeful that i am, jaunted off to Fred Meyer with the goal of buying more. it was terrifyingly crowded, and people were not all that jolly.
this year, i turned to one of my friends and asked, “on a scale of one to ten, one being the Grinch, ten being Buddy the Elf, where would you rate yourself?”
i’m about a 3. not because i hate joy, or delicious cookies, or family gatherings. i like all those things very much.
what i’ve discovered is that as i get older, i crave simplicity.
crave it. similarly to the way i crave Tillamook ice cream.
when i was growing up, my family didn’t have much money. my dad was a teacher and my mom stayed home with us kids. because of this, holidays were relatively quiet (but lovely). then, when i was 11 years old, my mom got a job and our house income basically doubled overnight. i don’t think i handled that very well.
as a teenager, i was convinced that i always needed something more. a new pair of shoes, the right jeans. it was that elusive trap of materialism, where no matter how many great things you have, there’s always something more out there.
i remember feeling suffocated by this. and one summer, when i was 19 years old, i read a book by a man named Shane Claiborne, called “the irresistible revolution.” it advocated for simplicity. simplicity in lifestyle and of the heart.
and i realized that simplicity was what i craved.
to that end, i made a goal that i would not buy clothes for an entire year.
as a 19 year old girl, that was kind of lifechanging.
but i did it.
and now, many years later, i am grateful.
my family does not exchange gifts at Christmas. when i tell people this, their reaction is usually, “well. what do you do, then?” i smile because we do a lot. this year, my sister and my mom made the most amazing brunch that i’ve ever eaten. then we all bundled up and went for a walk (which is tradition) to the local school, where we were fortunate enough to find a kickball. my dad pitched and i played outfield. we played until the sun went down and then walked home. there was a fire in the fireplace and we played games until bedtime.
i’ve been thinking a lot lately, and i’ve decided that the root of consumerism is comparison. we stand beside others and look back and forth, assessing what they have and what we have. sometimes what they have is better, or at least more appealing in that moment.
but i truly believe this: comparison is the thief of joy.
and i can conjure up that hollow feeling at the end of a day, where i look at my bags of newly purchased items and wonder why they’re not as exciting now as i thought they would be before i bought them.
perhaps this is something i’ll always struggle with.
the contentment that my soul longs for, at war with the consumerism that our culture presses upon me.
it’s all very alluring.
perhaps the key is to withdraw into simplicity.
my mom made this statement to me: “you are rich when you are grateful for and content with what you have.”
i believe that with all my heart.
and in this new year, i am hoping and praying for a new perspective:
people are always more valuable than things.
just because something is popular or makes life convenient, doesn’t mean i need to buy it.
appearance is really not that important.
choose joy, not comparison.