In December, in that strange space between Christmas and New Years when the only acceptable thing to do is eat carbs and cheese and sugar and wear yoga pants all day, a friend announced she would be buying no new things on Facebook and something about the idea struck me. I liked it, but I thought it was kind of crazy. I have enough up in the air, I don’t need to spend extra time and energy thinking about seriously changing my normal routine.
Except this is something I have always wanted to try and have long suspected a month or 40 days wouldn’t really change my life enough to change my habits.
Except I had been noticing my habit of window shopping on Amazon when I was feeling sad or overwhelmed. I seemed to be operating under the delusion that the right product or system or service would definitely make my life better or easier or…something I am looking for. Comfortable? Probably I am searching for something that would make it better. I don’t even know what it is.
So I commented. I am in. I too will have a No New Year. I hadn’t prepared by assessing what I needed and buying it ahead of time, or even letting my husband know. I just kind of said, hey! me too!
I’ve been at this two months now and planned on giving you a monthly update. Consider this January and you will get a February update mid-march. Then, hopefully I should be back on track.
There were a few things I knew I needed and I put those on the “doesn’t count” list. I needed new underwear, both my kids needed new shoes. I was allowed to buy those. Things like deodorant and toothbrushes did not count. I was wondering what to do about gifts. I am still navigating that.
Here are my rules: Nothing new for me, or the house, or my classroom. I will first try to do without. If I need something (or really want something) I will buy it used. Mostly I just won’t. I just won’t. It turns out I have enough stuff. And the buying of the things has very rarely simplified my life in any significant way. (There are exceptions to that rule, I love my Keurig with a love that is greater than love forever and ever amen.) Instead, mostly it just gives me one more thing to put away, get rid of, or otherwise figure out what to do with.
The first thing I noticed was how many sale flyers I get in my email. The unsubscribe that first week was significant. And also, kind of delightful. I don’t have to see what Old Navy has on super clearance or what the daily deal is on Amazon. I don’t have to decide if today is the day I decide to splurge on something I kind of want and sort of need but also could do without. The answer is no. Going to Target has never taken less time.
No. No. Nopenopenoppitynope. It isn’t that I am not deciding. It is that I have already decided. The answer is no. It turns out that decisions about buying things have taken up a lot of brain space.
Everything was awesome, until my girls were invited to a birthday party. Oh crap! What do I do? Look. As a parent, I am like PLEASE please come to the Birthday party and do not bring a thing. My kids have enough stuff, more stuff than they could ever want. I know in my brain I don’t actually need to bring anything. But my heart says that it is rude to not bring a present. Plus, the girls are not down with showing up to a birthday party empty handed. They want to bring a present.
We were invited to a ridiculous amount of birthday parties in January. Seriously. We had two in one weekend, WHAT? I wasn’t quite sure what to do, so I went into the girls room and raided the book shelf. Then, I pulled out a present I was supposed to return and did not. Finally, I raided a used book store and for about 3 dollars per book, I now have a whole stack of children’s birthday presents ready to go.
I think, for now, my plan for adult presents is to make them. If you are expecting a birthday present from me this year, expect salted caramel sauce in a mason jar I already own. It is the probably the best thing I will ever gift you.
But also, I am really learning that people like me even if I show up empty handed. I don’t have to bring a present, and when people say that my presence is enough I need to believe them. I should gifts out of joy, and not out of obligation. I am surprised at what a hard lesson this has been for me.
So far, my no new year is going well, tune in next time for the time my dog ate through her collar, my boot falling apart, and my current obsession with the used clothing website Thred Up.