Then Jesus said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Luke 12;15
It is all too easy to get overwhelmed by stuff. Wanting it, buying it, hoarding it. It is all too easy to justify ‘stuff-accumulation’ habits.
It is six months since the end of Lent, and I never did get round to posting about my ‘Lenten Giveaway Challenge’. The idea was that instead of giving up, I would try, every day of Lent, to give something away. The thing was, people kept giving back to me.
So despite the fact that during the 40 days of Lent, I managed to donate the following items [to family, friends, work colleagues and complete strangers]
5 books, 53 greetings cards , 54 metres of ribbon
5 embroidered baby bibs, 10 metres of elastic
2 coffee mugs, 5 bags of assorted stuff for charity shop
7 metres of fabric, a pot plant, some snowdrops
a jar of buttons, a handmade bookmark, a pen
a scented candle, a cotton shopping bag
2 pencil rolls, a wicker basket, a tin of biscuits
4 giveaway parcels on the blog
3 lots of small change to charity appeals
*30 small cardboard boxes/cylinders
*some vinegar, bicarbonate of soda,
*and a small plastic model volcano!!!
[*these last items to a teacher friend for her class project]
I actually received
10 balls of wool, a pair of knitting needles
a knitting bag,
three jam-jar skirts, a £4 Unilever voucher
a small yellow Easter chick, 10 metres fabric
a how-to-crochet DVD, an embroidery book
a bag of vintage sewing patterns
**2 wicker baskets, a bag of buttons
**100 metres of ribbon, and a pot plant
[**these items came after I had already given away similar things earlier on in the month!]
I am not sure quite what this proves. Except that I have a lot of very generous friends – and I have not missed any of the stuff I donated. A number of the items in the second list have already been re-invented into other items and given away.
I am very impressed with their determination and dedication to the challenge. I confess that I chose not to participate. Mainly because I knew there would be some stuff I would have to buy new in order to equip Cornerstones properly.
And I am afraid I would have ended up tying myself in knots trying to justify purchasing such things, like Judith Levine in her book [my review is here]
And my other concern is that whilst the ‘only handcrafted or secondhand’ rule is very good, it doesn’t specify that the item is actually needed.
I love old pressed glass cake plates – and I already have five. They are often on sale in charity shops – but Bob has convinced me I do not need another. He is absolutely right, of course – but when I see a lovely one in Oxfam, my heart races and my pace slows down!
Having condemned the L’Oreal “Because You’re Worth It” hype, I do not want to fall into the M&S trap of buying something “Just Because…” [even if it is only 50p in Barnardo’s and the money is going to a good cause]
The WHAM! rule is still in operation [We Have a Mortgage!] and that has curtailed our spending on ‘frivolities’.
[Actually, I think Bob has suffered more from WHAM! than I have – his passion for PA and gadgetry has proved a little expensive at times. However, he only buys stuff which he can actually use – and his gear really does get a lot of use, helping out other churches/community events/school activities, in situations where people have limited budgets. They end up getting a really professional service from him without having to pay high commercial rates. So I do not begrudge him the odd microphone here and there, as I know it will be useful. Plus I love him to bits, and if he says he thinks we should get this or that bit of kit, I find myself juggling finances to make it possible for him]
- I need to work harder at giving away surplus stuff
- I need to be much more disciplined about the things I do buy, and question their necessity and value
- I need to properly sort my crafting activities so I can actually MAKE more gifts/cards etc with the materials I already have in store
Christmas is coming, and magazines/TV programmes are already talking about “What to give this year”. I do not subscribe to the ‘give a gift you’d like to receive yourself’ idea [I’d be thrilled with some flat flower head pins, or a reel of machine embroidery thread – but would be unlikely to give such things to anyone else]
I am working on the principle that good gifts are ones which are useful and/or edible, or something the recipient has specifically requested, or flexible so they can choose [such as a giftcard] – or ‘alternative’ [I wonder what happened to the Oxfam goats in Africa which Liz gave us a few years back?] I am also working on the principle that Christmas comes at the end of December, and should be paid for by 31st of that month. I am unhappy about the idea of going into a New Year paying off the debts of the old one – so no last minute dashing to the shops for gifts financed with credit cards!
- Do people think you are a mean, tight-fisted cheapskate if you give them a handcrafted gift ??
- Which is better, to give a jar of homemade chutney [main ingredient being windfall apples] and take time and thought over the making and presentation of the gift – or to dash into M&S and buy a fancy jar of preserves [and then resent spending money which you could ill afford that month] ??
- If I got run over by a bus tomorrow, is it fair that my grieving family would then have to sort through all this ‘stuff’ I have accumulated ??
- Furthermore, would they have the slightest qualms about chucking most of it ?? [which proves that it is mostly worthless anyway]
- Do other people have this sort of angst about ‘stuff’ ??