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!