12-11-17 The Story of Stuff (Part 1 of 3) Christmas Themed
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Michael and Jackie Bigar
The Story of Stuff
Please click on the play button below to listen to today's podcast. We post new podcasts every Tuesday and Thursday. Today's podcast will be the first of a three part series.
What is the story of stuff?
Wooooo this is one of my favorite topics!! I first learned about the story of stuff in a college english class in 2007. Wow, that was ten years ago now! Time sure does go by fast when your having fun.
I love the story of stuff because it brings light to the darkness of consumption. Now friends please understand that my family and I are not perfect at consuming less. We are actually learning to be more resourceful and buy less "stuff". But man, it is a struggle not trying to keep up with the jones, especially during Christmas. We'll talk about Christmas and the story of stuff in a little bit. Have you heard of The Story of Stuff before? It sure is a interesting story and it shows us a completely new perspective of the world we are living in.
The Story of Stuff is REAL (Unfortunately)
The Story of Stuff is a real story and as the consumers we get to be part of it. We get to choose if we want to buy more stuff or be part of the change. The story of stuff also helps us make better everyday choices.
Living in the City and The Story of Stuff
Currently, my family and I are living in the suburbs of Surprise, Arizona. We are city dwellers right now. Do we like it? No. Do we fit in? No. Why are we here? I don't know.
We are people who like the great outdoors and country living. So you may be wondering why we are in the suburbs. We'll friend, our family is here. My husband and I are natives to this valley. All our family has stayed here for a few generations. But with the expansion of the Phoenix sprawl, we decided it is better for us to get out of here. We need some more space.
Let's talk about city life and the story of stuff. People in the city are going to be more effected by the story of stuff. The are living a life that involves consumption and honestly there is not much else you can do when living in the city. It is natural for us to want to be like the people around us and people in the city typically have more money AND spend more money. Therefore, they are always broke and will probably always be broke.
Country Life and The Story of Stuff
How does the story of stuff effect people in the country. Well it will depend on what part of the country and the culture in that area. Is there neck of the woods close to a mall? Is their home town expensive and people that live there spend a lot of money? Those factors we also effect the story of stuff in their area. For the most part people who truly are living a more rural area will have less money and consume less products.
How Can You Live a Life That Doesn't Involve Lot's of Consumption?
We'll for us we want to be able to live a life where we can grow our own food, build our own things, create our own power and simply life a more simple life. We can't do that in the city. It is actually illegal to do many of the homesteading projects and life style choices we are wanting to make.
For you to live without consuming a lot of "stuff". You can be conscious of the purchases you make. You should always ask yourself do I really need this. Now you will want to reward yourself and make life enjoyable. But you will also need to be highly aware of the advertisements that are presented to you. We get advertisements in the mail, TV, internet, social media, billboards, grocery store, farmers market and anything else where people want you to buy something.
The Story of Stuff and Christmas Time
Ah...The Story of Stuff and Christmas. Man, it is hard to make good choices all the time. I will be straight with you guys and gals (mostly gals). I struggled this year with Christmas time spending. I thought we would be spending $200 max this year but... I started feeling guilt for not buying things for family( Grandparents , Sister in Laws, Brother in Law). Do you guys ever feel that way? Like someone will get sad if you don't give them something.
What did you get for Christmas?!
Let's be blunt. This is the message that is really pushed upon us as modern day Americans during Christmas time. "How much does _________ truly love you?" OMG! I almost never want to go to family Christmas parties because it is all about who got what. Well all that is really happening is that you are getting farther and farther from your financial goals friends!
As a minimalist type of person this is overwhelmingly uncomfortable for me. All I can think about at those parties is how the people who give gifts are probably putting themselves into debt because of what they bought or at least getting farther from financial freedom. But I am on the same boat. I feel the Christmas guilt for not getting everyone I know will be at the parties a gift. But I also know that we are in deep poo poo of debt right now. We have a big mortgage, auto insurance, health insurance, we owe money on our travel trailer, we have general high costs of living in the city. But I did it... I spend about $300 on Christmas already this year. Gifts for my kids $100. Expensive candles for parents and in laws another $100 bucks gone for ever. Wrapping paper and misc $100. Honestly, I think I spent less than the typical American during Christmas.
I feel so stingy about talking about the cost. Shouldn't we love people and show them our love with our resources. Yes we should but maybe not in this way. First of all how does it make the gift receiver feel if they didn't get you a expensive gift? I've been there and I felt pretty crappy. I felt bad I couldn't give them a gift. BUT is that what Christmas is all about?! Uh... no. I don't think so.
Christmas has not always been about giving expensive gifts but Walmart and Target sure would like you to believe so. Christmas was so incredibly different 100 years ago. Could you even imagine what Christmas was like 200 years ago?! Ah....now that is something I would prefer to think about. Christmas was so much more simple back then. Why? Because you didn't have the guilt of Christmas shopping upon your shoulders.
Old Fashioned Christmas
What was Christmas like for your Grandma? Do you even know? Well friend... it was different! Al ot different than the Hallmark Christmas of 2017. There wasn't big expensive gifts at least of the majority of working class people because people bought stuff with cash. Yep cold hard cash. Also there wasn't a Walmart or Target. Whaaaat? Yep. Could you imagine a world without big box stores like that. Oh. I like to.
People would often make gifts because people didn't have lots of stores to choose from AND they didn't have jobs like we do today. Yes before the idustral revolution that "enhanced" America people typical grew their own food or at least most of it. People didn't have money to spend of friviously gifts. People would make clothing, toys, baked goods and things like that for Christmas gifts. Yea.. birthday parties were also much different back then. Did they even have birthday parties? Well, that is a discussion for another day.
Christmas for 2017
I understand that as busy mommas we like our children to play independently and toys do entertain children. So I recommend that if you are purchasing gifts to do so with a eco-friendly mindset. Buy toys that are made from recycled materials or wooden toys verse plastic. Be conscious of the materials used in the gifts. Ask yourself do we really need this gift.
I like to donate toys and clothing that my children have that are unnecessary. Does your 6 year old really need ten pairs of pants? If you don't know the answer it is "no, they don't". Does my kid need 5 stuffed animals? The answer if no. I actually only like to have one special stuffed animal for my child. That is probably offensive to some moms reading this but its true. I believe that one special stuffed animal is so much more special that 5 pretty important stuffed animals. Please don't tell my kids but I went to build a bear and picked out my baby girl faith a princess bear. I am so excited to share this with her for Christmas. But...I will be donating some of her other toys when she gets new toys from the grandparents.
We all can reduce the amount of stuff that we "need". Life is seriously better with less clutter. Unnecessary stuff in our lives makes us have to make more choices. Choosing which shirt to wear when you have ten shirts to choose from is a lot harder than if you have 5 shirts to choose from. At more clothes equals more laundry to put away. We love getting clothes as gifts because it is very practical. But when we get new clothes or second hand clothes we like to go threw the clothing that we currently have and see what we can get rid of.
Please Come Back Wednesday
Wednesday is going to be part 2 of The Story of Stuff and we will be talking about more ways to make Christmas more like the Christmas your grandparents and great grandparents knew and loved. Until next time have a AWESOME Monday!
Homeschooling His Children