OP back again. I am on vacation and normally do not check on here while traveling, but have been keeping a very close eye on this thread. The discussion has been most helpful and eye-opening to me!
I took a little break from posting due to the following:
Originally Posted by North_Of_60
They certainly don't appear to be about the environment or clutter, that's for sure!
Along with a couple of other posts with similar hinting.
Correct me if I wrong, North_Of_60, but I believe you are calling me a liar.
When I first read this, I resisted the very strong temptation to reply and walked away for a bit. Had I replied then, the temptation to write an enormous post about how centrally simple living, treading lightly on the earth, and being good stewards to the planet and it's inhabitants/resources is in my family's life would have been too strong. I could write on and on about how walking the walk is more important to my dh, me, and increasingly, my dd, than talking the talk. How this is part of almost every single decision we make and is discussed several times every single day in my house. But. That would be a huge waste of time, for me to type and for you to read. You have already decided that I am either lying to everyone or at the very least, to myself. I can choose to be highly insulted, sling a few "good ones" back and forth, and get into a big argument and see who all we can suck into it. But I choose not to. I guess (after cooling down) that I really do not care what you think. I know this is a non-issue for you. Great. I am interested in discussing this subject with the many posters on here who do think it is an issue.
Back to the discussion......
As we are here visiting many of the people who are central in the situation (for my family anyway), I cannot stop thinking about the many themes of discussion that people have introduced to my thinking. I am looking at these people that I care about and who care about me and trying a think of any way in which I might have a productive discussion with them. During talks about things not directly related to holiday gifts, I am starting to understand that people (in general, and me included) do not stretch themselves very far out out of their own spaces. Ironically, environmentalism has come up a few times in the last two days. My mom, who we are currently visiting, knows the issue is very important to me. I moved out 17 years ago, but even while living with her I was active in Students for Environmental Action, used to turn down the thermostat in our house on the sly, and lobbied hard for our family to purchase compact cars rather than the fuel-guzzling options they ended up buying. I was annoying but I think my mom thought it was cute. My mom has known environmentalism is that important to me for that long but despite this she has very little understanding about the subject. For instance, she told me that I would "really like the new meijer's by her house because she noticed they carried organic milk" even though she knows I am a very active board member on my local co-op, never EVER shop at big box stores, and have fought to the bitter end to prevent an area Walmart from expanding, which destroyed several acres of wetlands. I have a couple of more examples, but I will not bore you with the details, you get the point. My mom loves me. She listens (and remembers) when I talk about what dd is up to, how my job is going, what is currently falling apart in my ancient house, which of my friends had a baby, etc.....because these are things SHE cares about. When we talk about something she does not particularly care about (environmental issues for instance), I think it goes in one ear and out the next. The same thing happens to me when she talks about her Music Box Society trips. It is not on purpose, it is just human nature, and needs to be actively prevented if you don't want it to happen. No wonder I feel a huge disconnect between my lifestyle and this gift issue. She is trying. She largely buys gifts that do fit our lifestyle, but she honestly does not see the connection between the number of gifts and our lifestyle. And she REALLY does not get the clutter issue because she is a hoarder
This must be human nature because it sees pretty universal across the people in my (and dh's) family. They are trying. They do care. I am not sure I am OK with pushing it any further until I can find a way to do so mindfully and with care.
For those suggesting that we not participate in the family activities, I already mentioned above why we have not chosen that route. But additionally, we only go "home" for the holidays every other year and never for dd's birthday. The same number of gifts arrive at our house. Yes, we get to decide when they are opened and our holiday takes on a much more relaxed pace, but we also get to deal with HUGE amount of boxes and packaging. And we still have to find somewhere in our house (and minds) to put it all.
As I also mentioned before, this is not my rock to die on. Yes, I want to discuss it here because it is important to me, I might come across a great solution, and I am going to continue to seek a solution. But right now, it is what it is. I am not going to cut off family members or seriously hurt their feelings. We will just deal until I come up with something else. But if we do all just settle forever, letting love= stuff, holiday= waste, and children's bedrooms=giant overwhelming toy store, I mourn for our future. I do believe this is one (of many signs) that our culture is sick.