I recently took my first trip to Africa. One pre-dawn morning I decided to
stop trying to fight my body clock and got up early. As I sat by our hotel
window, I could see a shacklike house across the street, and its family
stirring. My first feelings were of sadness. The house contained no more than a
couple of rooms. There were piles of junk in every corner of their small ten-by-ten, bare-dirt yard. But as I continued to watch, my perspective changed. There were definite causes for sadness that trip, but this was not one of them.
As I watched the woman of the house, I realized what I was calling "junk" were their useful belongings. In the course of an hour, I saw the woman make good use of most of the tools in her yard—building a fire to prepare a meal for her family and tending to a small garden. The more I watched, the more I saw her care for her home and use her things well. Theirs was a "Velveteen House," where everything was well-used and full of purpose. In contrast, our culture creates "a house to look at" that covers the house in which we really live. For years I had towels that were not to be used, canisters lining shelves that held nothing, books that were purchased for the color of their cover, and most troubling, a guest room with no guests.
I have been guilty in the past of wanting too much. I want 'things' for my house to try and make it a better home for my family. I want nicer pictures on the wall and more books for the bookshelf.
In reality, we need nothing more to make our home a warmer, friendlier, happier home. We just need to increase the love. So I've put a buying embargo on our house. We don't buy any more things unless it's something we can't cope without. If it's replacing something broken that can't be fixed, that's ok. But if it's just prettier or nicer than what we already have, I don't buy it. Surprisingly (or maybe not) this has stopped me from buying a lot of 'stuff'.
Notebooks and pens, books and daytimers, new coffee mugs and cutlery. When I'm at the store they seem the perfect things to complete my life... then I come home and see my cupboard bursting with mugs and my pen jar crammed full of pens that work just fine and I'm actually thankful that I have shown restraint.
This also makes my frugal and money-smart husband happy. Always a good thing!