Minimalism and the Day after Christmas

I think I’m starting to understand the meaning of minimalism. Yes, it’s about being able to live with less, but no, it doesn’t necessarily mean having to live with the bare minimum. Yes, it means choosing to own only the things you need or the items that bring you happiness, but no, it doesn’t mean feeling guilty about keeping things that serve purpose or give meaning to your life, even if they are new, beautiful, or expensive.

I started to get the hang of what it means to live a minimalist life when I moved into my new condo earlier this year. Yes, it was bigger than the apartment I was renting, but yes, that extra space was necessary and has drastically contributed to my comfort and happiness. No, my new home is not huge by any means, but yes, the entire experience of moving opened an opportunity for me to purge my belongings. I threw out and gave away so much. Yes, in some cases, I did replace what I purged with newer and nicer things but on the same token, I also chose to rid my life of other items that I never intend to replace. While I still have a storage closet half full of things that I most likely do not need, my current living footprint is much more meaningful. Is my living footprint a bit bigger? I can’t say, but it is much more purposeful now. Just about everything I have in my home (not in storage) is something I use, need, or brings happiness into my life. It definitely was not like that before the move. Yes, I can still identify items that could go, and they will go. I know it won’t be hard to remove them from my home and life.

So with that in mind, I must admit that I was treated very well this holiday. People in my life blessed me with books, candies, gift cards, clothes, and decorative items. But I must admit, sometimes, as I opened up gift after gift, I felt a little stressed. How am I going to transport all this back home in my tiny carry-on luggage? Where am I going to put this in my condo? I truly am not going to ever use this, but I feel bad contemplating how to rid my life of this item. Little surges of anxiety overtook me, and I swear to you, this was the first time in my life I ever felt this way while opening up gifts. I truly can say that overall, I would have been happy to have received nothing, or at the minimum, something of little monetary value but huge sentimental value such as photos of family members that I can frame and display in my home or hand-drawn art from my niece and nephew that I can put up at work. It’s true, the older you get, the more you want things that money cannot buy.

Yes, there were many things I received that did bring me joy and that will be put to good use. (The gift cards, for example, will go toward improving my home.) But there were also trinkets I received that I see no use for in my life (such as the turquoise heart paperweight or the two candy tins I was gifted). I truly believe this sense of anxiety that I experienced when opening up gifts originated from the massive purge I experienced during my move this summer—a purge that has continued to this day in my new home and that will continue when I return from the holidays.

While it is easy to fill up space in a new, bigger home, I have avoided doing so unnecessarily. I have a very stressful job, so I see my home as my refuge. I have specifically designed it to be a place that brings me calm, creates warmth, and coziness and that offers simple, quiet comforts with a tinge of luxury where I can afford to add it. This means no clutter.

So what am I going to do when I get home later this week? For now, I will remain grateful for the presents I have received, but upon my return home, I will have to overcome the guilt I will feel as I find a way to rid myself of the gifts I do not need. Inner peace and health are more important. Creating and maintaining a space that promotes both is necessary. I choose happiness over stress, and pray to God others will understand.


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