By Lara Ketter, Blogger of the Month for November
I married into a large, fun and crazy family. Farmer Husband is the fourth of seven children — four boys and three girls — and all but one live in Kansas. This means our annual Thanksgiving gathering includes an abundance of people crammed into tight spaces, more food than you can shake a turkey leg at, laughter bouncing off the walls and ceilings, and bushel baskets full of love.
Abundance is the perfect word to describe November — a month that signifies gratitude, bounty, and plenty, as tables overflow with Thanksgiving goodies and families gather to give thanks and stuff themselves with turkey and pumpkin pie. What’s more American than that?
Abundance is defined as “extremely plentiful … more than enough … overflowing fullness … ample … bountiful.” The word can be viewed positively and negatively, and November is the perfect example of both.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because, unlike Christmas, its focus is on gratitude and family — not gifts. It’s the epitome of abundance at its best — thankful hearts, family, love and FOOD, of course! There’s relatively little to buy, and no one expects a present, thank goodness! Pop a turkey in the oven, throw a few sides together, ask Aunt Ina to bring her famous sweet potatoes and Cousin Suzy to whip up her yummy pumpkin pie, and you’re set to go.
Abundance is measured not by the number of gifts shared, but by the number of laughs shared.
Black Friday — another American tradition — is almost here, and it’s the perfect example of over-abundance. Picture huge discount stores packed with Cheap Stuff from China — store after store, aisle after aisle, shelf after shelf — most of it we don’t need, lots of it we want, want, want. We line up early and race for the Christmas gift bargains even as our basements and storage units are stuffed to capacity and Goodwill stores overflow with the stuff we get rid of so we can buy new stuff.
I’m as guilty as the next gal. My children are to the point where they struggle to come up with Christmas gift ideas because they already have so much stuff. I press them to “come up with something” so they have gifts to open Christmas morning. What does this teach them? Are they truly better off than the children “less fortunate” than them? I’m not sure anymore.
My sister-in-law and her husband hatched a genius plan — since their children are teenagers and already have everything they need and want, they stopped buying gifts for Christmas and birthdays. Instead, they save the money for a fun family vacation. This is one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard. The focus is turned from stuff to a memorable family experience — an abundance of love and experiences instead of more things.
My youngest isn’t old enough for this yet –- at 8 years old he still expects Santa to make a house call -– but I’ve put this plan in the “Future Ideas” file of my brain. It would take some real guts to follow through and not buy presents, and I’m not sure I could actually do it. But for those who can, I applaud them wholeheartedly.
The minimalist movement focuses on living simply with only what you need, and that by doing so you’re happier by letting go of stuff –- in other words, more abundance of happiness due to less abundance of stuff.
I’d be a lousy minimalist; I love Hobby Lobby too much. I like to think I’m a healthy balance between a minimalist and a hoarder. But I can always do better. My plan is to set aside the stuff, metaphorically speaking, and focus the word abundance on gratitude, family, and love.
Maybe I’ll even work on my own overflowing storage spaces, clean house, and take a bag of Cheap Stuff from China to the local Goodwill store, spreading the abundance around. Because the best thing those of us with over-abundance can do is share it. An abundance of generosity is good for everyone!
May your Thanksgiving be filled to overflowing with gratitude, love, family … and turkey!