Don’t Buy Me Stuff

Back in my 20s when a good friend and I both lived in London, we used to take each other to the theatre for our respective birthdays. We both loved musicals and drama, and it was a wonderful and generous way for us to treat each other. It also helped that our birthdays were several months apart, so we got to see new shows every six months for a couple of years.

Fast-forward 20 odd years. Through good fortune and hard graft, I am lucky enough to have a beautiful home and a lot of stuff. More stuff, in fact, than I truly need. My family also has a lot of stuff, especially my kids. When stuff breaks or gets outdated or replaced by a newer better version of stuff, we get new stuff. Old stuff gets donated, recycled or thrown away.

So.Much.Stuff.

Too.Much.Stuff.

I’d being lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the stuff; that the fruits of our hard work enable us to acquire things. Some of these things we need, or at least we claim we need. Most of it we really don’t need, but we like to have, own, use, show off.

I feel guilty about all the stuff. Compared to others that are not as fortunate. I’d like to not only give away more stuff to those with more need but I’d also like to not acquire as much new stuff.

Charity starts at home, as they say. My kids need to learn that stuff doesn’t really matter. They don’t need to constantly buy or be bought new things. The need to understand the value of what they already have. And understand that being generous doesn’t always mean giving stuff away, though it’s a start. It’s our job to set this example, practice what we preach.

I’m thinking about this topic as my birthday is approaching in a few weeks. Birthdays, especially for kids, become the epicenter of getting more stuff. Often nice stuff. Maybe stuff we need but won’t buy for ourselves.

So here’s the thing. Please don’t buy me stuff. I have more than I deserve already. If I want, ‘need’ or desire something, I can go buy it myself.

Instead, treat me to experiences. Take me to the theatre. Let’s have a day trip. A picnic on the beach. Let’s do something unexpected and crazy and fun. It may cost money but maybe not.

You see, the more stuff you have, the more it collects dust. It becomes hard to find the one bit of stuff you value the most when there’s a whole big, dusty pile of stuff.

The opposite happens with experiences. Each experience can be treasured both in the moment, and after. Experiences can be shared. Experiences don’t degrade with time. Every time you unwrap them in your memory, they are lush with emotions, vivid with detail.

So, please don’t buy me stuff. I don’t intend to be ungrateful. I know there’s pleasure in selecting a gift for someone. I’m sorry if this request denies you that pleasure.

How’s this for a deal? I’ll treat you to an experience too. That’s way we’ll all have memories to cherish instead of piles of more stuff.

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5 Comments

  1. Amen to this! Spending half my vacation sorting through stuff, moving stuff, and donating stuff. Wish I could start over, but I guess changing course will have to do.

    Reply
    • Yeah. The more stuff you have, the more time you have to spend organizing it. And then you have less time for experiences.

      Reply
  2. When P and I separated, we sold most of our stuff. And at the time, I was very upset. After all, we had worked hard to acquire this ‘stuff’ but then we practically had to give some of it away to be rid of it all so it called in to question our whole ‘raison d’être’ — now that I have way less stuff, in my tiny house with Nikki and grandma, I don’t miss it. Any of it. I don’t miss the car and the expenses that went with it. I don’t miss the dining room set. I don’t miss Sparky (my Keurig) but that’s mostly because he is one of the few things that came with me to grandma’s house (I can handle separating from my husband but god help the persons who gets between me and my coffee machine). I do miss the sofa – stretching out in the evening, reading or watching a movie… In the end analysis however, you realize how much of your life you spent acquiring stuff and how little that studs matters in the end. I’m working on acquiring experiences, like you are: the memories they generate last far longer.

    Reply

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