When I was in junior high, my mother used to be able to feed her family of six on $50 a week. We ate a lot of homemade soup and homemade bread, yet somehow I don’t ever remember feeling deprived. I had this hippy friend, Larry, who looked a little like Jesus and played the guitar like a dream. A recovered addict, Larry looked like a zipper when he stood sideways and stuck out his tongue … and could put away a dozen pieces of my mother’s monkey-bread. She would see his jalopy pull in the driveway, sigh, smile, and break out her mixing bowl.
We were not wealthy, not by a long shot. We didn’t even have a television set, and “family vacations” consisted of driving to one or the other grandparents houses, or camping in the woods. I look around my children’s rooms, crammed with all sorts of toys and clothes, and wonder if in fact they would be happier with less.
I know I would be. When you have boxes and boxes piled up in the basement, it’s hard to find what you need when you need it. Drawers stuffed with clothes actually make for MORE laundry, rather than less. And then there’s the books, shelf after shelf of volumes read once, then stored in perpetuity.
But I have come up with a great way to pare back to essentials: Move every year or so, and only take along one truckload. Simple, right?
My plan this year, to get things pared back to the right size:
* I will get rid of ALL clothes that I haven’t seen on one of us in the past two years. Coats, shoes, boots, snow gear, all of it.
* Take the children’s books my kids have outgrown to the local church school (I was in their library and was surprised at how threadbare it was), and the rest to the seminary. Parenting books to the Salvation Army.
* Find a local recycle center that will take computer crap, and have Craig take one box a week until it is all gone, except for what he needs for his job.
* Save only the Christmas decorations I truly love. Recycle the others.
* Tear the recipes out of the dozens of cookbooks I have on my shelf that I truly intend to try, and dispose of the others. Seriously, I keep making the same 12 meals over and over — why do I need 46 cookbooks?
What’s your favorite way to simplify?