Moe Has Everything

My mother-in-law likes to say that kids should get four gifts at Christmas: Something they want; something they need; something to wear; and something to read.

molehadeverything

The last of these is always fun. Even though I’m not shopping, it doesn’t mean you can’t.

If there’s a kid or adult in your life who likes picture books with substance, please check out (literally, from the library, if you want) Mole Had Everything by Jamison Odone.

This is one of my all-time favourite children’s books. It’s the story of Mole, who lives simply and happily enough until a friend points out that he doesn’t have very much stuff, and he should really think about getting more. Mole takes the advice to heart, and heads out in search of stuff. I won’t tell you how it ends (you can probably predict that), but it’s deeply satisfying. Odone’s detailed illustrations offer plenty of visual interest, making repeated readings not only bearable, but enjoyable. You won’t believe the stuff Mole finds.

The message of the book is that having a lot of stuff not only won’t make you happier, but it could actually make you unhappier. This is a tough one for kids and adults alike, so I think the earlier the seed is planted, the better.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.

If you’re the buying kind, consider ordering through Amazon Smile, where a portion of qualifying purchases is donated to charity. You can pick one from their list. I support the work of Good Shepherd Shelter in Los Angeles.

Stuff I Thought Would Happen (But Didn’t)

10153963_10154814740365231_2309747708397022656_nI have been at this a while now. Three months! Back before I started this experiment on September first, I had some ideas rolling around in my head about how things would look at this point.

I think it’s time I cop to each of them, and let you know exactly where I stand.

(Spoiler: None of this has turned out the way I thought it would.)

What I Thought: My house is going to be so organized.

Reality: Haha. Hahahahaha. Ha.

I thought that by just stopping the flow of stuff into the house, it would make the existing stuff sort of take care of itself. This has not been the case. I’ve learned that getting rid of stuff takes much longer than acquiring it. Some days, I think how easy it would be to just take a big garbage bag and clear-cut the rec room, but my conscience still will not allow me to bin something that would be of use to someone else. So I make piles, I poll friends and relatives to see if they want a particular thing, then it sits in my house till I can off-load it. Freecycle is great, but I’m rarely home. I need to get much better about dropping off regular donations to thrift shops. Hit me with your favourite ways to get rid of your own stuff.

What I Thought: I am going to have so much extra time.

Reality: See above.

I have yet to harvest this particular fruit of my labour. I think I need a solid week to really deal with all the stuff I have stashed away, and this time of year doesn’t come with a lot of downtime. However, steering clear of malls and larger centres of commerce all month long is an appealing thought.

What I Thought: I am going to save all kinds of money.

Reality: Sort of.

While it’s true that I don’t feel as flush as I expected to, objectively, I do have more in the bank than I would have otherwise. I have had some planned, one-off expenses for which I have paid in cash, whereas I might previously have put them on a credit card. My credit cards all have zero balances, and my total debt load has decreased by $1500. I have not managed to maintain the $1000 minimum balances in my Chequing and Savings accounts, so I am re-evaluating these numbers. I’ve also decreased my cell phone bill and I have some big plans for the New Year. Since I won’t have Christmas to pay off, I should be able to make some real headway.

What I Thought: I might lose some weight.

Reality: Food is good.

One of my rules is that I am not allowed to buy convenience food, and I shouldn’t be eating much of that stuff anyway. For the most part, I have kept the rule. One consequence which I didn’t foresee is that I learned to make really good bread. Who among you can resist a freshly baked roll? My weight is unchanged, and it’s possible that I’m eating more of the things I might have avoided otherwise. Clearly, this experiment has not been the cure-all I wanted it to be, and I need more work in this area.

What I Thought: I am going to give up.

Reality: This is who I am now.

Today is Cyber Monday (as if you didn’t know), a day when there are deals to be had Internets-wide. People are asking me if I feel like I am missing out on all the deals and sales this year. I don’t. There isn’t even a twinge. Nothing. If I can get through this week without the desire to buy, I think I can get through anything. I have a purpose. To those of you who have known me a long time, this must seem like a drastic change. It doesn’t really feel that way to me. My consumer behaviour has been evolving in recent years, gradually and deliberately, so that this step feels logical and inevitable. The woman who dragged her mother and toddler all through Shenzhen to get a (very, VERY good) “Birkin” bag? She has faded into memory. The girl who casually handed over her Visa card for $500-worth of monkey-picked oolong tea? She exists only as parable. From this point on, there shall be no tea undrunk, no clothing unworn, no yarn unknitted. And I have you to thank for it.