When my husband and I were first married, quite poor, and unemployed, there was no "plastic" money. If the money wasn't in the wallet, it didn't get spent. We went to a couple of sales and found a few items to sit on or at for our little rental house. We had been given money for a bed and some linens for wedding presents, some kitchen items, so we were all set. The really nice thing was that we weren't burdened with a ton of stuff when we were able to move to a nicer rental place a year later.
Now we own too much stuff. I suppose many of us do. Will anybody else admit this? Raise your hand. We still own too much stuff after making some considerable effort to clean out, give and throw away stuff. My biggest motivator in this effort is my mom's old house, which my grandmother moved into in about 1916 and which my mother inherited in 1973. Neither woman nor their families ever threw out anything. Guess which generation now has to deal with this? Things that could have sentimental meaning, but were relegated to a drawer for years, just don't mean that much. I'm thinking of my father's baptismal dress. I'm not going to frame it and hang it in my house.
If you want to see the ultimate in TOO MUCH STUFF, you could come to the huge sale that will start tomorrow at our local school. The local branch of an international charitable organization puts on this annual sale, using the school facilities to display the goods. Each year more has been donated and now the goods have outgrown the space. The smaller items such as baskets, dishes, kitchen ware, decorations, more books than a used book store, and smaller tools fill the gym, wall to wall.
There are three outside tents and three hallways with lots of used furniture, appliances, wood stoves, and grills. Another tent covers a number of bicycles. There are enough Nordic Trak ski machines to allot one to every 100 people in town. They are priced at only about $2 - 10. And if you added in the rest of the exercise devices, there'd be one for every 30 people. There are boats. Not toy boats; real boats. True antiques are priced high, but everything else must go and the prices reflect this.
If I were starting out again, I might be able to furnish a place even cheaper than we did so many years ago. It is hard to imagine that the people in this small town could donate so many items, but I think it reflects the excesses we have these days and the desire for new things that our culture instills in us. That leaves plenty to give away. The money collected from this sale will probably be over $25,000, based on past experiences. Most of it will benefit local causes.
Too much Stuff? How is it that so many of us get so much stuff and still think we don't have enough to donate more money to our churches or save enough for retirement or give to other good causes? The one thing that I think has happened is that impulse buying is now the norm, using plastic, so we just are able to buy without thinking of money or space. I am reflecting on the contrast to what we saw in Uganda where the people own so little. They own so little that they lock their doors to prevent thievery if they are poor, and if they are rich, by contrast, they surround their little home with a concrete wall topped with sharp glass. It is pretty easy to take either a spiritual or political lesson from that!