No More Stuff

No More Stuff


When I was young, like in the single digits young I really liked stuff.  I liked collecting stuff, buying stuff, and being given stuff.  My accumulating period lasted a long time, probably until I was about 40.  Then suddenly I looked around and I had more stuff than I needed.  My house was full, my garage was full, and my attic was definitely overly full.  I went from wanting to get stuff to never wanting any more stuff ever again.  I reached my tipping point.


Now I am anti-stuff.  I don’t want people to bring me anything or give me any gifts, except needlepoint gift certificates because that is about making treasured Christmas ornaments, which are certainly not stuff.  When I finished decorating the tree today Carter came up and announced it was “beautiful.”  I asked her if she minded all the Christmas being out now and she said no, since she did not have to do any of the work.


With all the Fa-la-la-la-la surrounding us she wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas.  “No stuff,” I declared.  “I don’t like stuff.”  “Well, Mom, what about all these Christmas Decorations?”  I tried to make the distinction but she countered me with the “It has matter so it’s stuff” argument.  A science minded child has me there.


So now I must be more precise in my language.  There are very few things in the universe I want and if I really wanted them I will buy them.  If I don’t know they exist then I will never want them. But most everything I don’t want and I don’t want the burden of having it.  I am overrun with the stuff I thought I wanted but found out I did not really need until after I owned it.


My problem is now that I am anti-more I have become bad at finding gifts for those who really want, need or deserve something.  Nothing fits better than cash, but it does seem lazy and impersonal.  It is fine to give to people who really need money, but going to a friend’s house for dinner and giving them a twenty-dollar bill might be considered tacky.  But why?  Is showing up with a twenty-dollar candle really better?


I hate to fall prey to the gift card cop-out, but the more I think about it the more right it sounds.  For those people who might take offense to the cash option a well thought out gift card to a place I know they already love and frequent may be the answer.  Whole Foods, Starbucks and I-tunes here I come.   That way if they don’t want more stuff either they can just get something consumable and for one brief moment they can think kindly about me rather than curse me years later for adding to all their stuff.