‘Enough’ is a Feast

In the United States, yesterday was Thanksgiving. It is a day we traditionally gather with family and eat turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, rolls, stuffing, and just as many pies! It is a day in which we are supposed to give thanks, celebrate the harvest, and rejoice in the cornucopia of abundance we have. Unfortunately, today in the United States is also a holiday of sorts where people go out at unreasonable times to wait in long lines to buy more stuff. Over the years, stores have opened earlier and earlier on Black Friday (as it is called) with several stores now starting sales on Thanksgiving evening… giving us just enough time to stuff our faces and run out the door to buy more stuff. No time for the giving of thanks.

It is unfortunate, however, that we give up gratitude so quickly in pursuit of the cheap, because studies have shown that consumerism produces negative psychological effects and stress. Gratitude is a proven antidote.

“‘Enough’ is a Feast” is a Buddhist proverb I read recently and it has stuck with me like something you can’t quite shake, but don’t fully grasp. I don’t claim to be a minimalist, but I would like to move a bit more in the direction of less stuff. A few years ago, a team from UCLA decided to go into homes and just write down every single item they saw. People were shocked to discover that the homes they visited had 2,000+ items just in the first room. (“Who ARE these people?” they said. “That’s nothing like MY home!”) Now I don’t know how far down they counted, but sitting in my living room, I can’t even begin to count each book, ball, train track, toy car, movie, crayon, colored pencil, coloring book, CD, etc. that surround me. In 2016, we will begin to cull things for real. We will get the family together and have real conversations about what we use, what we value, and what is in the way of our happiness. This is a tricky discussion with kids. I remember being young and wanting ALL the things! Everyone does. And you remember that one Christmas you got just what you asked for and how magical it was. And you remember the one Christmas you didn’t. We want to create that magic for our children, but move away from the stuff. That certainly isn’t the easy way to do things. And I’m not exactly sure how to do it.

‘Enough’ is a Feast.

There is a mindset shift that comes with this proverb. In the standard, consumer mindset, there is no end. There is only newer, better, and more. But once we stop consuming so rapidly, we change our thinking. We find our joy, peace, and gratitude again. For we have an abundance. And to boldly say “we have enough” is a feast, indeed.

In remembrance of the delicious feast we had yesterday as we ate, laughed, played, and enjoyed the holiday with our family and dear friends, we will declare this day not Black Friday, but the day we say “we have enough.” Extending the gratitude an extra day is how we will begin this holiday season where we celebrate “enough.” Our “enough”-day traditions include: sleeping in, staying in pajamas until the afternoon, playing nonstop Christmas music, decorating the house for Christmas, and watching a Christmas movie. I have never regretted spending such a cozy day with my family instead of getting the best deal.

‘Enough’ is a feast.

We’re on the appetizers of the feast, but we’re working toward the main course. And in 2016, I hope to get all the answers. How do we find a balance between “enough” and “stuff”? How do we replace the magic of the perfect present for our children? (How do we get the grandparents on board?) How do we find daily gratitude in what we already have? Because we have enough. And I love a good feast!

Enough

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17 Comments

  1. We won’t be buying any more “stuff” today. In fact one of our goals this year has been to de-clustter and get rid of stuff. The less is more attitude. So far so good. Enjoy the family time today!

    • MaggieBanks

      Amen, brother. I just unloaded a big box of kid books to someone that just moved up without any. It felt great to be moving things out of the house rather than bringing more stuff in.

  2. Great to read posts like this one around this time of year, reminding us all that actually consumption of gifts and food isn’t the most important thing. Counting your blessings is very worthwhile.

    I also love ‘enough is a feast’ because it can be applied to so many things – finance included! When do you think enough is enough in PF?

  3. a woman

    I just donated 1 bag with food products just staying there. I prepared 6 shoe-boxes (gift for poor children packed in a shoe box) with a lot if toys/child bags – I just bought some candies and teeth-brushes; I throw away around 40 glass jars stored for nothing. And I still have a lot of items useless 🙂
    So… for Black Friday I will buy… on udemy.com

    • MaggieBanks

      You’re the best! Is there a specific organization you do the shoeboxes through? We have a box of jars in the garage I keep gifting people (“thanks for your help, here’s some hot fudge in a jar!”). Get them outta here! It helps that jars are “in” right now. 🙂

      • a woman

        yes, I found some friends that sustain some poor children thru social aids, so we prepared the shoeBox.
        About the jar glasses, I hope you didn’t exaggerate, like me. 40 it is too much, because I still have around 20-30 full with what I canned 😀

  4. Happy Belated Thanksgiving! I hope you had a wonderful feast. Given the time of year, your post is perfect and related to one I’m writing about contentment and another about turning consumption into generosity. I love that these themes are prevalent right now in the blogosphere!

    • MaggieBanks

      Thank you Claudia. You as well! I’m excited to read those posts! And I love the spirit of gratitude and contentment that prevails right now! Let’s keep it up!

  5. Wow 2,000 plus items is a ton! That’s pretty incredible. Kudos to you for being pro-active about minimalism and being content with “enough.” Always tough to get family on board.

    • MaggieBanks

      We’re working toward it. It is/will be tough. But once the kids see the value of experiences over stuff, I think they’ll be able to decide what “Stuff” they really want to keep.

  6. Beautiful, Maggie! Enough truly is wonderful. I could imagine that is a truly difficult conversation to have with the kids! Even just this weekend spending time with my nieces – all you want to do is shower them with the “magic” but there’s a fine line to determine what gifts will give the best value vs. collecting dust in the corner after it’s been played with for 5 minutes. We try to purchase experiences, and this year we are hoping to get tickets to the “Polar Express” train ride that they have in Hood River, OR to take my niece along! Your enough day sounds like it was fantastic! Which Christmas movie did you end up watching?

    • MaggieBanks

      The Polar Express train ride sounds truly magical. Once kids understand the magic experiences can provide and that less stuff=more experiences, the conversation gets easier… at least that’s my hope! 🙂

  7. I love this, and I’m so glad you guys are doing a no-stuff Christmas! I always wish that something like “you are what you think” was considered a truism like “you are what you eat” is, because I think it’s entirely correct that the way we think about things totally dictates how we see the world. And so my interpretation of “enough is a feast” is that embracing contentment wholeheartedly means we truly feel that we have plenty. (To me it’s similar to how banishing the word “busy” from our vocabularies made us truly feel as though we have more time.) But we have this idea, especially if we’re rational thinkers instead of emotional decisionmakers, that we’re somehow objective in looking at things. As you know probably far better than I do because of your work, that is certainly not the case!

    • MaggieBanks

      Getting rid of “busy” – we’re working on that as well. And I agree. When we think a lot about how grateful we are, how much we have, what great opportunities there are, we end up less busy, less stressed, less out of control in spending, eating, vegging, etc. “You are what you think” – I like that.

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