December 26th, 2002

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More Is Not More

Sitting in the back of my parents' car as we drove back to their house after babysitting my niece and nephew for the day, I found myself putting together some musings and feelings that have been bubbling up in me throughout this recent holiday season. The subject line of this entry pretty much sums it up nicely: More is not more.

I say this based on experiencing what seems like this season's drive for extremes of excess, like people buying too much food for guests and parties, eating too much, decorating too much, drinking too much, buying too many gifts.

My parents bought and baked such an excess of food, when really they could have done just fine with half and it would have all been eaten and appreciated, rather than leaving them with a surplus of 1/4 eaten food. Same with my sister's family and with all the mountains of food brought into the work during the month of December. Not only is it a lot of food it's a lot of food with way more fat and sugar than any usual fare, so it's completely over the top to the point of being silly and scary almost.

Over at my sister's house, I was struck by the huge excess of toys in the playroom. Sure, they've accummulated from two children, but the older one is severely handicapped and never could really use or appreciate them, while my niece is a year and a half and with so many toys, never really sticks with one for very long and isn't interested in them. She'd be fine with about 1/5 the toys, the cream of the crop, but the parents and friends and family just pile the toys on, thinking more is better, when I really think it isn't.

Then there are all the McMansions around, especially in my home town. These are the ubiquitous multi-gabled two- and three-story homes with the fancy front doors, great rooms, four bathrooms, expensive kitchens, little square of rolled-in ChemLawn, gaping three-dour garages filled with expensive minivans or Mercedes SUVs. There'll be one and then another behind it or a whole street of them, surrounded by woods off some street that was once a country back road. Now it's a place people go to that's more than they need, probably more like a giant storage container for their stuff than a comfortable home. Imagine that same 2-parents, 2-kid household in a small older house right on the road, with a simpler separate garage and a pretty little yard with bushes and trees, not the dumb lawn. Imagine the cosy kitchen and living room where you don't need a 15-ft. vacuum hose to dust the ceiling. But no, the other places has more "status," gives the "good life" to the kids, while the other is just a "starter house."

There are excesses in my own life, of course, but in general I think my attitudes are pretty healthy. My thing seems to be spending more money on less stuff, like getting the quality if not
the huge quantity. The main thing I do need to improve on is the food, like buying only things I will eat and quit eating more than I should and more fat and sugar than I should, but soon I will be changing all that. I will try to remember that less is more... more clothes that actually fit me, that is :)
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