If you're reading this brief post, you probably give and receive quite a few presents this time of year. My family's Christmas gift-giving just concluded, and as usual, many thoughtful, useful gifts changed hands. We are immensely fortunate to be able to practice such generosity, and you probably are too.
Perhaps the only downside to all this abundance is the nagging feeling, as we begin to integrate our new belongings into our lives, that we sure do have a lot of stuff. We had a lot of stuff already, we admit to ourselves, and now we have even more. We feel a twinge of shame over our good fortune, and with it comes a mild sense of foreboding: someday---maybe many years from now, but someday---we're going to have to pay the piper. Eventually, we (or someone else) will have to sort through all this stuff.
Longtime readers may smell a post on minimalism, but I'm not advocating for or against minimalism as a philosophy. Instead, I'm suggesting a classic minimalist practice to help you manage your new holiday gifts and make sure they're a blessing:
For each gift you've received, let go of one item you currently own.
Got a new sweater for Christmas? Take an old one to Goodwill. New power tools under the tree? Donate an older tool you no longer use. If an item is no use to anyone, toss it, freeing up some room in your life and your living space.
This "one in, one out" policy accomplishes at least two ends. First, it helps keep your home from filling with stuff you don't use (as all homes eventually will if left to their own devices). Second, it helps others by recirculating items that still have some life left. A pricey-but-too-small blazer you'll never wear again doesn't do you any good hanging in your closet, but it may help change the life of a person with modest means who finds it in a thrift store before an important job interview.
As the holiday season concludes, consider trying this one-for-one approach (we'll be doing the same in our house). Take it as an opportunity to practice gratitude, manage your physical possessions, and give back during a season when so many of us have received so richly.