If there’s one thing that I can look back on 2017 and be super jazzed about, it’s having been inspired by minimalism.
As some of my favorite ladies, The Practical Minimalists, say, minimalism isn’t just about clean lines and teak furniture and a single chair in a living room. It’s about living more intentionally, spending more intentionally, and “freedom with less”.
I did several minimalism “challenges” this year, which resulted in me clearing out a shit ton of unpacked boxes from my barn, and donating many many MANY things to the Vietnam Veterans of America, and throwing many many other things out. (So. many. stuffed animals y’all.) But aside from the clearing of clutter, I can, for the first time in my adult life, say that the clutter has not crept back in. And I think this is because I’m not just “cleaning” or “tidying”. That’s only half of it – the other half of it is not adding back to it once the clutter is gone.
I can honestly say that my mindset about “stuff” has changed. I was just telling a friend the other morning – there have been times in the past when my husband would get a big overtime check and I would think, “Oh yay! I can buy X thing on Amazon I’ve had my eye on!” Now, instead, I stick that money into savings or do something else with it, like throw some extra money at our house renovation debt. I have much more of a dialogue in my head now when it comes to buying things – do I really need this? Will it add joy to my life? Is there something I can get rid of in my house so that I’m not adding to what I already have? And nine times out of ten, I end up not buying the item in question.
The spirit of minimalism was a welcome joy for me this holiday season. This year, I said NO to many things that in the past have cost me lots of time, effort, money, and stress, for little to no return. I didn’t do Christmas cards this year. We end up throwing them all out eventually anyways, right? (Please tell me that’s not just me.) I decided I didn’t want to add to anyone else’s clutter. Plus I wasn’t over the moon about any of the photos I had to choose from. So, no Christmas cards. No dropping tons of money on cards or stamps. No taste of envelope glue hanging out in my mouth. No achy hand from writing out addresses. It was really quite nice.
I also didn’t do a Christmas cookie bake-up. I normally bake a ton of cookies and give them out at work. People say thank you and go on with their day, and once in awhile someone would ask for a recipe. But after some reflection, I discovered the cookie baking wasn’t really about giving to people, which makes me the devil, I’m sure – more or less, I was wondering, could I get something out of it? Am I hoping people will like me more because I gave them Christmas cookies? Meh. Honestly, I don’t really care anymore. If you can’t stand me, a box of Christmas cookies ain’t gonna change that. And I’m okay with it. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. So I’m not wasting a weekend, tons of money, and effort, just to hope that people will be nicer to me at work. F that. This is one reason why getting older is cool. You just don’t give an F anymore.
Something else I said NO to this year? The shit-ton of Christmas gifts under the tree. The buying of gifts just to have something to give to someone. If it didn’t make me excited to give to you, I didn’t buy it for you. In fact, I didn’t buy a single thing for anyone that I wasn’t excited to give them. THAT’S what this season is about, right? We talked about giving “experiences” to our daughter as opposed to gifts, and we started talking to her about that as the holiday season approached. In fact, one day, I said to her something along the lines of how if we were going to focus on “experiences” rather than actual gifts, then there might not be as many presents under the tree. She seemed okay with that, and said “Yeah, so like, I probably wouldn’t have 38 gifts like I did last year.” My head whipped around. She… counted them? She counted the gifts we got her last year! And she didn’t even need to, she has no siblings to compare to!! That solidified it for me. We did get her some things – some books, a new game, some other things she asked Santa for, etc – but they were ‘smaller’ things. No big ticket items, no big ticket toys, no crap. Her big present from us was Taylor Swift tickets. That’s one heck of an experience, if you ask me. And as we wrapped all her little gifts, I did not feel guilty like I have in the past, for how much money I spent, for feeling like she might not even like or appreciate what we are giving to her, for feeling like I’m giving her another craft kit with a thousand tiny pieces that I have zero interest in doing with her. #badmom All the gifts she got were things she had been wanting, had asked for, did not cost a ton of money, and would be useful for her.
As a result? My bank account is not nearing negative. I’m not worried about paying my mortgage next month. I’m not worried about blowing my credit card out of the water. That right there is golden, folks.
Hands-down, the 2017 holiday season was the least stressful holiday season of my entire life. I enjoyed it. I loved every second of it.
Minimalism, ya’ll. Ya’ll should try it.