A Friendly Holiday Suggestion From a Mom With Too Much Stuff

This post originally appeared at the Chattanooga Moms Blog.

The holiday season is upon us!

I’m going to take this opportunity to say something that may anger some of you – particularly those of you who may or may not be grandparents or extended family to precious little children that you are looking forward to showering with many, many wrapped and bow-topped items over the coming weeks. I say this not to hurt your feelings, but to let you know something that a lot of us mamas (although certainly not all) are feeling this time of year.

You ready?

Put down whatever it is you are about to buy our children.

Put. It. Down.

Did you do it? Did you put it down?

Now. Ask yourself this very important question: “Am I buying this because it is useful and long-lasting? Or am I buying this because it makes me feel good and will make this child excited for a few minutes?”

Because if the answer is that you are buying that gift because it makes YOU feel good, we don’t want it.

I have four children, y’all. All boys. By the time you get down the line to the fourth boy, you have ALL OF THE THINGS. All of them. Honestly, there is not one toy, book, or other non-consumable item you could buy my fourth boy that we don’t already have. The only exception is blue jeans and tennis shoes because those actually do wear out (so if you want to buy my youngest little snowflake something for Christmas, make it jeans or shoes – sizes 18mos and 5T. Thank you.).

Example: Four sets of toy keys. And this was just what I found without much effort in the toy bucket in the living room.

Too Much Stuff

We have become a culture obsessed with stuff. Our homes are overrun with too much stuff…shoot, even our cars are filled with stuff! One estimate is that the average American home has over 300,000 items. Our homes have tripled in size over the last 50 years, yet our families are smaller. We are buying bigger and bigger houses for our THINGS rather than our PEOPLE. Even the poorest among us are drowning in stuff because when those who are the wealthier among us get tired of their stuff (or need room for more stuff), they pass it along to the local thrift store.

Every year since I’ve had children I’ve looked forward to the holiday season less and less. Our calendars are bursting at the seams and hanging over my head is the knowledge that on top of all the things I am constantly moving, picking up, washing, cleaning, sorting, and tripping over, we are about to get even MORE. We will go to celebration after celebration where everyone feels like they need to give my kids something. More often than not, it is something that they love for a day or two – a week at most – and then it is tossed aside for me to clean, pick up, wash, or find a new home for (or nag my kids about doing the above). Christmas isn’t fun anymore. It’s work. It’s stress. It’s mess and clutter and chaos.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. “This sounds like a personal problem and she just needs to relax/make her kids pick up after themselves/be thankful that people want to buy them things/etc.”

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Jama Oliver
Jama Oliver
I am a stay-at-home homeschool mama of four boys (yes, I'm exhausted) and wife to a software developer. We are new to Chattanooga and have absolutely fallen in love with this hi-tech, outdoorsy, family-friendly city. I love Jesus, my family, running, weight-lifting, fitness-instructor-in-training, freelance writer, and lover of coffee, wine, sunshine, and comfortable clothes. I am confident that one day I will get a full night's sleep and I hope that's before my boys leave for college.

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