Tis the Season…of Consumerism

When Thoreau was living at Walden Pond and writing his work of the same name he said that “men have become the tools of their tools.” He wrote that in the mid 1800s so I imagine he might have had a mental break had he ever met the internet.

Just imagine Thoreau with an iPhone for a minute; it makes me smile.

I went to Walden Pond once. I drove out with a friend and together we sat by the water’s edge with journals in hand and wrote about the beautiful, quiet place we found ourselves in.

me walden

walden journal

We walked in the replica of the tiny cabin Thoreau built for himself and I snapped a few pictures of Mr. Thoreau reading my very own copy of Walden Pond :]

walden house

walden book

I like Thoreau. I like what he stood for and what he did by example. But I’m not very good at following that example. I’m much better at online shopping and Angry Birds, truth be told.

It seems like simple living should be, you know, simple. But the world we live in is awfully glittery and I choose consumerism and material things far more than I would like you to know.

walden birch

I think about this a lot this time of year. Not only because of Christmas shopping but also because my birthday is a month before Christmas and Darren’s is a month after. So for three months straight we are thinking about buying and getting things. I have nothing against birthday and Christmas presents; I think both can be thoughtful demonstrations of love for the other person and that is certainly what we hope to accomplish by giving each other these gifts. Still though, it’s easy to get carried away by it all, by all these shiny, glittery, latest and greatest things that we convince ourselves we simply must have and give each other.

Fortunately this year we are broke.

Not really, but we are building a house…in the woods…with a big garden beside it…with all the hope in the world that it will help lead us to simpler, more meaningful living. But even houses in the woods built with good intentions cost money so this year we have to really stop and think about every dollar we spend.

And you know what? It’s been super wonderful. Seriously. I like not worrying so much about what I’m giving and getting for birthdays and Christmas. I like that every single gift I bought for Darren this year was picked out based on what I know he’s good at and will love. I like that this year feels a little slower, a little less about things, and more about building dreams together. I like that on my birthday Darren gave me a remote-controlled monster truck because every time we end up in the toy aisle I drool over them. That’s a nutty thing to give a girl but he knew I would like it and it made me smile that he remembered and did something that felt hugely thoughtful to me.

I’ve read a lot of stuff lately about how hectic and frantic these last few weeks before Christmas are. About how people are stretched and stressed to the max by all the shopping and parties and decorating. And I think that’s really sad. Because the shopping and the parties and the decorating are not what this is about. I’m a Christian, so foremost I think this is all about Jesus. But even beyond that, this really should be about people and love and thoughtful, heartfelt giving–giving of gifts we picked out with something special and specific in mind, gifts of our time just to be with people and to enjoy each other….gifts that matter for more than the glitter.

Walden Pond

I’ve let the beauty of Christmas get away from me many times before by focusing on all the wrong things. But this year–this quiet, slower year–is teaching me something I hope I won’t forget.

Let’s not be the tools of our tools, okay? Okay :]

12 thoughts on “Tis the Season…of Consumerism

    • We are remodeling an 1860 farmhouse. It won’t be small or simple like Thoreau’s cabin but we hope it will help us live a quieter, simpler life in the country. Our focus isn’t on the house as much as it’s on living in a place where we can spend lots of time outside and raise a family close to the land. Thanks for reading!

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  1. Fab photos. Very serene and tranquil.

    My husband & I are broke this year, too and it has made life simpler. It’s easier to prioritize and determine what is really important in life. There’s no shopping for me… I’m making toffee for everyone, and have had such fun figuring out how to package it + how to make little handmade notes. I’m hoping everyone will think it rustic and charming.

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    • It’s funny how having less money to throw around helps us focus more on what really matters. When Darren and I were dating in college and didn’t have any money, we would always hand-make gifts for each other….those things are still my favorites and I think it would be good to get back to making things out of love over buying stuff just to fill boxes under the tree. Homemade toffee sounds yummy! :]

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  2. Very well said, Kari! I’m still bothered by the advertising flier that wished us a very Merry Giftmas and I’m trying to figure out how to introduce more simplicity into our family Christmas. I love your photos too. There is such a sense of peace about them.

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    • All the advertising for Christmas gets to be way too much for me…I can hardly stand to have the TV on this time of year. It’s easier for us to keep it simple because we don’t have a lot of people to buy for but I just think it’s sad when a time of year that’s supposed to be special ends of being frustrating and exhausting.

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  3. Such a wonderful post. I agree with each word. This is a very quiet year for us also. Three years of illness and little income has finally caught up with us, so we will just have us and enjoy the quiet. God is faithful and true and He will give us gifts that will be unexpected. May your home be filled this year with the unexpected and the great. May this time of building see you building one another up in encouragement and love, and may you discover things you never thought you would. great post, thank you for your words. DAF

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    • Thank you for your kind and thoughtful wishes for us, Dear Friend. I hope you and hubby will have a nice, meaningful Christmas together too. Sometimes just having quiet time alone with the people we love is the best gift of all.

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  4. Whoa..this post is so good! What a great reminder that Christmas is truly about Christ and the people we love. Spending Thanksgiving with you and Darren and your brothers and their families was by far and away the very best Christmas gift I could have possibly been given. Stuff is just that..stuff. Family and friends are something so much more..a treasure, a gift. Thanks for the reminder.

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