Since last summer we've done no superfluous shopping. Truly. Between our own economic reality and a desire to eliminate unnecessary things, I've just stopped buying. Visits to Target -- which used to be fairly regular for "necessities" -- have been rare, if not non-existent. I've just been picking up essentials at the grocery store.
However, our Easter baskets have always contained a few little gifts in addition to the peeps, jelly beans and chocolate eggs. So, being entirely un-crafty and un-prepared and not wanting to disappoint, off I went to Target late last night.
Grabbing a red cart and pushing it under the big seasonal banner, I felt like a foreigner in a strange land. In the amalgam which is toys/electronics/fitness all the licensed character gadgets and battery-operated hand-held devices just seemed like future landfill material. Near future. I could picture myself tossing any of it into our ever-growing donations box. As I surveyed the shelves with apathy and bland disinterest, the sensory stimulation had entirely no commercial pull. Gone was my desire to purchase. I felt as if I were hovering with my cart 3' over the sales floor. No need to descend.
On the other side of a retail hiatus I have emerged deeply satisfied. My idea of need and want is more narrowly defined, more critically selective. Dare I say ... I'm a product snob.
Another notable difference we've experienced is a significant reduction in our weekly trash removal. We never haul two cans to the curb anymore; a simple result of less incoming packaging.
During this time the kids have enlarged their sense of imaginative play. There's still a closet with the usual toys, but far less time is spent there. Today, for example, they stitched up pom-pom hamsters and inchworms, with cages of cereal boxes and toilet paper tubes. I would venture to say there's a correlation: less time spent in stores, less value placed on items from stores. Is it a stretch?
We certainly didn't set out motivated by any high aim, only to better manage our resources and our lifestyle. Everything else is a wonderful spillover benefit.
The common phrase "less is more" comes to mind, but in a more literal sense it really seems like less is just plain less. Less stuff = less time wasted, less cost, less life distraction, less clutter ... and that's alright by me. I've always thought of myself as a frugal person, but this time of less has brought new clarity.
What did I end up buying for their Easter baskets? New summer PJs and a Kate DiCamillo book for each. Basic, useful stuff, but still colorful and fun to receive.
Oh, and when you see me post new crafty projects in the next few weeks ... it's all made using things I have on hand, previously purchased. It feels really good to just use what we have without seeking more.