To some degree this is relevent to Christmas, but it really applies to any gift giving situation. These days when people ask me what I want for Christmas or birthday or whatever, I generally say “Nothing.” Most people view this as a polite response and that a gift is still expected. For me, though, the way I see it is I am literally asking for the gift of not more.
I’m trying to get myself in a place where I have less stuff. I’m a big fan of the minimalism movement, though I’m not sure adopting minimalism is for me. I guess it depends on who you ask what minimalism is. Some people take it to an extreme and literally just own the minimum to survive. Some people allow for hobbies and collections.
For me, though, I’m just trying to get to not more. I grew up in an evnrionment of irresponsible consumerism so it’s something I have to train out of myself. Don’t get me wrong, most Americans grow up in an environment of irresponsible consumerism. It’s hard to avoid. Companies that make products really want to keep this in your households. They want you to impulse buy and spend your money and have things. Minimalism is the bane of the existence of product makers.
For me, my goal is to be able to live inside of a fairly small space comfortably without the need for extra storage. I want to live clutter free. I want to have the mindset where I look at empty spaces and think “maybe my living space is too big” rather than “I need to fill that empty space.”
It’s not that I’m poor. Quite the opposite: I’m successful in my career and can afford expensive things easily. Hell, I just bought a new motorcycle that is actually on the expensive side. I just want not more.
So when I tell someone that I want nothing and they insist on getting me stuff, especially after insisting nothing be given, I actually get a little offended. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the sentiment, but now this person has spent money on me that could have been spent more wisely, and I now have to figure out what to do with this thing that was just given to me.
So to the people that insist on buying me gifts: If I insist that you give me nothing and provide you with no alternative, when you are buying a gift for me, consider that you may be buying a gift for someone else or that it’s just going to waste. If I have no use for it, I will donate it or dispose of it. In the case where I provide no alternative, consider making a donation to a charity, or just do something for yourself. If you feel so inclined, tell me what you did instead of buying me a gift. I will appreciate this a lot more than a gift you give me that I have to figure out what to do with.
There’s an interesting point to be made here based on what I just noted. Occasionally, I will tell people if there’s something on my shopping list that they can gift me instead. It’s fairly rare these days. A good example is I need to replace my shoes. Knowing my mom seems to never understand that I am a lot more appreciative receiving not more, I gave this one to her to gift me. To be honest, this adheres to the “not more” policy.
And with that said, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas.