I swear to God there’s some conspiracy in my family to swamp my life with useless crap. The worst culprits are my aunt and my grandma.
Last night my aunt came with me and my mom to Good Friday services, which surprised me. My aunt, though she talks a good game about “God says this” and “God says that” like some Focus on the Family nut, does not really go to church. Maybe its because the church on her end of town (the one my grandma always went to, so my aunt I guess feels like its the only church she can go to?) kind of sucks. Maybe its because she would have to get up early in the morning. I don’t know. But after services I quickly realized what her true reasons for going to church were. Afterwards she wanted to go to the grocery store by our house to see if they had an Easter toy she was looking for that wasn’t at her grocery store.
I like hanging out with my aunt every now and then, so I assumed I would be coming with her and my mom, but when I said something about it, she started pitching a fit saying that this was a shopping trip for “Moms”. Ahem. I’m a mom. Not that it matters, because Elijah isn’t getting much of an Easter basket this year. He’s four months old, for gods sake. He’s just going to try to eat the Easter grass in the basket. We found a little 50 cent basket for him to take pictures with, and I feel frivolous for even getting that.
But I came along, much to my aunts dismay, to see her buying all sorts of crap for Easter baskets. She has a two year old grandson, so naturally one would assume that its all for him. No. Its for her grown children. Why in Gods name is she still making Easter baskets for her 23 year old son and his wife? Really, she shouldn’t even be making an Easter basket for her grandson. That’s his parents job (but that’s a whole other story I’ll get into some other time). And her other son is 16. A little old for Easter baskets as well, if you ask me.
At one point she asked my mom, “When are you going to get stuff for Jessi’s basket?”
“I haven’t done an Easter basket since I was 13.” I answered for my mom.
She looked a little offended, then started going off about what we are doing for Elijah then. Nothing. Seriously. He’s too little for candy and he doesn’t need any more stuffed animals or toys. This holiday isn’t about that stuff anyhow, and I’ll never buy him the amounts of crap she buys for her children. That stuff just ends up either thrown away after a few days (possibly hours) or as trash on bedroom floors. Why not just throw your money in your fireplace and burn it? At least then you’d get heat from it. Maybe a little ambiance. Its better than a messy kids room. Not to mention the tremendous carbon footprint these crap items have, she doesn’t care about that but I do.
I want my son to know how to be happy without stuff – because the truth is that stuff doesn’t really make you happy anyhow. And if we’re going to get him stuff, I’d rather it be a few really nice things, rather that an ass ton of crap. My aunt isn’t by any means rich, and I would much prefer that she give me five dollars to put in his college fund than to spend twenty on more cheapo stuffed animals.
Someday I will do an Easter basket for Elijah, and it will probably consist of a little bit of candy, maybe some healthier snacks, and a few little toys that will encourage him to play outside. That’s it. Kids don’t need more than that to enjoy the holiday and the whole Easter bunny tradition. In any case, I’d like him to somewhat recognize that the holiday is not actually about the Easter bunny, its about the Resurrection. If nothing else, its about being with family. Family and our other relationships are what really make us happy. What really make us healthy. Community is what we’ve been put here for. Not consuming.
When we left the store my aunt wanted to do more shopping, and my mom wanted to go with her, but the baby was hungry and I took the car to go home and feed him and put him to bed. Before parting ways with my mom I said “Have fun! And don’t buy a bunch of frivolous crap.” It came out harsher than I wanted it to. What I meant was that she shouldn’t feel pressured by my aunt to get stuff for an Easter basket (either for me, or Elijah), we don’t want or need Easter baskets. My aunt looked aghast. Hey, its the truth! She’s wasting money on a bunch of frivolous crap thats just making her and her children more unhealthy and cluttering up her house.
And contributing to global warming (I feel like I should add that for the sake of people who care about those things, my aunt is one of those archaic people who actually still believe global warming isn’t real and isn’t getting paid by the oil industry).
Now my grandma, shes a different kind of beast. She gives me trash. Not cheapo crap bought in supermarket holiday isles. Actual trash. Like her old, falling apart shoes. Or clothes she bought that doesn’t fit her (okay, this stuff isn’t actually trash, it might be really nice for another 60 year old woman, not for a 24 year old). Or some weird shit she made with old fabric scraps and random buttons. Bring this crap to Good Will, seriously. Or maybe I should introduce her to Freecycle, that way she can give her trash away to people who actually want it.
Now, my grandpa had a problem with compulsive hoarding (and actually, so do I, so you can see why I don’t want to aggravate the condition any by bringing more crap into my life), and when he died there was so much crap that my grandma didn’t know what to do with it. Most of it trash. A collection of swizzle sticks he had in drinks from parties he went to 30 years ago. Every old pair of glasses he ever owned. Name tags from various events. So what did she do? Unload it all on us grandkids like they were some kind of treasures (or like we were some kind of trash cans, I’m not sure). My grandpa had nice things, I didn’t feel the need to have any of them, but I know other people in our family did, and she either sold them on Ebay or gave them to her new husband. We get his trash. Gee wiz.
So what do you do with this accumulated crap? Well, currently I’m getting rid of all of it. And trying to halt my family’s efforts to give me more. I’m either throwing it away, recycling it or Freecycling it. Its hard, you have no idea how hard, it is for me to part with this stuff, because I have a serious compulsion to accumulate and keep it, but its an amazing release to get rid of it. I feel better each time something is eliminated.
Now if only I can stop my family from sabotaging my efforts!
Because I think too much stuff really comes between people and is destructive to relationships. Don’t believe me? Read up on compulsive hoarding disorder. Those people usually end up completely isolated from society. Those of us who live at half their stuff scale probably have half their isolation from others as well. And those people don’t start out living in a mess. They accumulate it over time. They accumulate stuff over time.
And eventually, they drown in it.