I’ve been a Richard Foster fan since high school, and one of my all-time favorite books is his Streams of Living Water–it’s a good mix of spiritual disciplines, historical biography, and ecclesial traditions. Anyhow, ever since reading about the life of simplicity in his Celebration of Discipline, I’ve been interested in pursuing it further because of the extended ability to give, social justice, etc. However, I discovered that the foundation of life in the US is busyness and consumerism, and it’s hard to break free from those cultural forms. So when we moved to England and sold 85% or more of our physical possessions, it felt very freeing. So much that we accumulated wasn’t as ‘necessary’ as we thought it was. Plus here in Durham, our pace of life is much slower than Dallas, it has been a great change. But as we settled here, we’ve slowly but surely accummulated a sizeable portion of possessions again, though it has slowed down significantly in the past few months as we finished the transition.
Anyhow, the question that prompted the blog is how to teach my kids about simplicity, and for them to value it. My youngest literally asks for every toy in Tesco when we pass by them–fortunately it’s set in an area that we can easily avoid. But they both have the ‘gimmes’ like any normal kid. They also have great families–aunts/uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparents that are more than generous, but they overflow with gifts at holidays and birthdays. It’s great that they get a show of love from family, but it seems like too much for them. Talking with Heather, I think we’re going to pare down our gifts and put money away for them instead. I’d love to just ask for family members to send money to help the kids save, but kids don’t recognize the value of that gift as much as a book or toy, and who wants to be know as just giving practical gifts. Living internationally complicates things too, because gifts become much more expensive because of shipping. Does anyone have ideas about how you treat this in your family?