How Much Stuff Do We Really Need?

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Every year we kick off the holiday season with Thanksgiving, a day when we stuff the turkey, stuff ourselves and give thanks for all the people and stuff in our lives. We’ve barely had time to digest the Turkey before we’re out the door to be the first ones in line to get more stuff to place under the Christmas tree for our family and friends, more stuff to ensure we are the most decorated house on the block, more stuff to find a place for, more stuff to dust, and more stuff to ultimately ignore. When is it enough? When is it too much?

In this video, Father Scott J. Brown references a family in Ethiopia who seems content with twenty-eight possessions in a 360 square foot hut, a very different picture from the average 2500 square foot American household. At what point do we have enough stuff in our lives?

Sarah Book Publishing

Sarah Book Publishing

Scott J. Brown is also a children’s author. His latest book, a must read, tells the story of three kings who face the dilemma of (gasp) having to come up with a personal gift fit for a king when the shops were already closed for the day. Purchase The Gift of You here and share the story with your children this season.

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19 comments on “How Much Stuff Do We Really Need?

  1. OG says:

    I was in Ethiopia for ten days in 2007. I returned home filled with a determination to live a simpler lifestyle. And then came the Christmas season. When it comes to the kids and grandkids, restraint falls out of my lexicon. Oh well, there’s always next year. Merry Christmas to you and yours. :)

    • I’m with you! I have a hard time showing restraint when it comes to my kids. My husband and I are okay keeping it simple for us, but something about their faces lighting up Christmas morning when they see those presents under the tree, that gets us every time. Like you said, oh well there’s always next year. :-) Merry Christmas to you and your family as well! :-)

  2. dinkerson says:

    We can’t be reminded enough to put a check on our materialism.
    Thanks for the important reminder.
    Great blog, by the way.

  3. Now that my kids are older – as are my many nieces and nephews – I find that I am happier giving away my old possessions to them for use in their college apartments and shared homes. And they seem happier with those “old things” than any gifts I have ever given them before…

    • I love that! I bet those “old things” have much more meaning to them. After all these years, some of my favorite things are those that were passed down to me. Thank you for taking the time to visit and read my thoughts.

  4. This is such a great reminder during the holidays. I went on a medical mission trip to Haiti a couple of years ago. It was so humbling and eye opening.

    I try to remember what a blessing good health is. All of my family is healthy. Many can not even claim good health.

    Thanks for the wonderful post!

  5. I love this post. I guess you saw mine, and now I’m returning the favor. My husband’s grandkids are our problem. They have so much stuff, we can’t even imagine what to get them, yet are we bad grandparents if we don’t enter into the fray? Sigh… Kids are better off without all the stuff we buy them. Yes, try to show restraint. Last year my sister and her family made their presents–kids too. They said it was the best Christmas they’d ever had.

    • I did see you post and loved it! I’m now following your blog as well. Thank you for taking the time to read mine and share your thoughts. My husband’s parents have started giving the grandkids a gift card because they have no idea what to get them. When we lived closer they would take them shopping for their gift and I loved that they were creating memories that way. We live too far away now to do that. I like the home-made presents idea. Gifts like that are always so much more meaningful and remembered for years to come.

  6. This is so incredibly valid. The word “need” is so distorted in our culture. I don’t need a damn thing. I think that we have a real responsibility to share our blessings. I mean seriously, even the Son of man came to serve not to be served. Right? What a great post; perfect timing.

    • This distorted perception of what we truly need vs. what we think we need is what I fear we are passing down to our children. It’s a great reminder year round, but especially at this time of year when we are inundated with advertisements painting a perfect holiday with all the “stuff” we need to re-create their depiction. How to keep this message consistently front and center is what I struggle with during the holidays.

  7. go Mama O says:

    Wow, the Ethiopian family having only 28 things….it would be some ridiculously high number of everything we have in our homes! This post and video helped put things in perspective – something that’s important for this time of year. I have a hard time coming up with gift ideas because there are definitely very few “needs” and so many worthy causes / charities that have a REAL need. The time with family and friends is what I love most about holidays. The gifts, while fun, also add a lot of stress!

    • I know! I’m sure I have more than 28 things in one single room. Yikes! I was compelled to share his video as a reminder to us all that our “needs” really aren’t what we think they are. We can enjoy the holidays and still exchange gifts and decorate without being excessive. I may have to save this one to revisit from time to time. Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. Glad you stopped by!

  8. This post was a much needed reminder. There tends to be excess everywhere we turn during this time of year. Our front lawns, underneath the Christmas tree, and at the dinner table. I hope to teach my kids that life is NOT about the “stuff” they collect. Rather, it is the “stuff” they are made of on the inside that counts! :)

    • I need this reminder every year. The holidays are my favorite time of year, but I think when we have kids the lure of all the shopping and decorating, etc. can easily suck us in to the excessive extreme as we try to make the holidays perfect. I like your reminder here that the stuff on the inside is what’s important.

  9. I love this post! Lately all the stuff around me has only made me anxious! lol seriously. My husband shops harder than I do, and I prefer to just have one of everything I need. I prefer to give everything else to charity.

    • We make it a point to give to charity as well, including the kids in sorting through their toys, etc. to donate before Christmas. It’s just so easy to get whisked away in thinking we need stuff to make the holidays memorable. I know I’m guilty! ;-)

  10. coastalmom says:

    We just got back from a trip down South. During our trip, we stopped to visit a friend with ALS. He is in the last stages and is trying to decide whether to get a trache or not. It is a matter of $9000 each month and between the money and the quality of life, it is a big decision. I hate myself thinking that I “need” stuff. I figure I am $9000 ahead each month by just not needing a trache!
    Being able to breathe.. and walk and wipe ourselves should be appreciated!!
    George Carlin had a little stint about stuff. It was cute. Though most of his material was off color, the one about stuff is cute.
    But you are so right. This post is timely. Especially for me after coming home and realizing how blessed we are whether we have the stuff we want or not.. the “stuff” we have is more than we ever need!

    • Every year, I think of scaling it down for the holidays and every year I get caught up in the excitement of it all. This year, we came home to the states to be in our own house for the holidays, and I have been so happy to be surrounded by my stuff that I’ve had a hard time thinking of what I would possibly want for Christmas. Funny how being without it for some time, makes me content with it again. Now, if I could show restraint when it comes to shopping for the kids. ;-)

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

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