Let’s talk about downsizing today. Specifically, downsizing Christmas. When Mike and I started thinking about what we want our kids to get from Christmas – memories, family traditions, and fun activities top our list.
Piles and piles of expensive, well-wrapped toys do not.
I used to worry that it made me a bit of a Grinch to not want to purchase half of a toy store for my child. Was I missing Christmas cheer? That bone in my body that says “MOAR STUFF FOR MY CHILD’S HAPPINESS” and the desire to wow him with a mountain of goodies on Christmas morning?
But this will be our fifth (!) Christmas as parents and so far no one seems deprived. (And somehow we still end up with a pile of cheap little plastic toys acquired from various holiday goodie bags.) There are a lot of reasons to keep gifts from being the focus of the holidays – but why do we go light on the gifts?
– Space: we live in a 2-bedroom apartment. It’s not tiny at 1200 square feet, but we don’t have a lot of space to put things and still have space to DO things.
– Cleaning: it’s a pain to clean up toys. It’s a pain to prod your child to clean up toys. Less toys = less cleaning = less arguing.
– Cost benefit: We don’t have a lot of extra money (husband’s in school) and we like to spend we do have on travel and other experiences that will last longer in our memories. I remember being a kid and being SO! Excited! about my new toys. That high lasted abouuut 3 days. Toys like blocks and trains and stuffed animals and Legos (or whatever the preschool version of Legos are called) promote play that lasts for hours. HOURS.
– Overwhelm: Too many toys overwhelm Gabe. It overwhelms me. It overwhelms our life.
– Enough: We have enough. Gifts are fun and great, but I also want to cultivate a sense of contentment that I don’t need more in order to enjoy the holiday.
Christmas has still been fun, magical, and full of great memories without the piles of gifts. Truly! When I was a kid, the best part of Christmas was sleeping in the same rooms as my siblings the night before Christmas, preparing for Christmas, and the anticipation of Christmas morning. The presents themselves were fun, but it was more the magic of wondering what would appear under the tree that I remember. I’m hoping the same for our kids.
So, what DO we get him? Maybe two toys (this year it’s pattern blocks and a treasure box decorating kit with plenty beloved glitter), a book, and lots of treats he can consume (thus, no storage needed). The baby will just get a book. Sorry, baby. We’ll build a gingerbread house, look at lights, and spend lots of time with family. I want that to be what it’s all about. And Christmas cookies, of course.
Like any other area of our lives that we’ve downsized so far – clothing, owning one car, living small so we can live in a walkable area, and working less/from home – there are a lot of benefits to living with less and we don’t feel deprived if we look at it as a choice instead of deprivation. (Like we’re choosing to go to Puerto Rico next month instead of spending a lot on gifts this month.) And like downsizing in other areas, this is what feels right for us, with no judgment or opinion on how others choose to live or spend their money or time.
I was excited to hear that my love of decluttering and simplifying has combined with my love of home renovation TV shows on the FYI network in the show Tiny House Nation. Any show that features small living spaces is my favorite because it usually involves space-saving solutions and minimizing the clutter. I find it super inspiring and practical. Kind of like minimalism for me – I don’t aspire to live in a tiny home, BUT I can learn so much from people who do.