My father likes to point out that I am a conservative because I am fond of old things and don’t like changes. I used to agree until I recognized that I did like change and new ideas, but I find it difficult to part with objects that are either still good or can at least be used for something else. The consequence of this set of mind is that I don’t throw away eagerly and tend to accumulate stuff. One of the meanest things my mother could do to me as a child and teenager is to throw something away. I have kept old newspaper articles (certainly still of value in 30 years), old school notes, pieces of clothes (to make new clothes or at least stuffed animals — isn’t it a great way to use stuff?), pieces of broken furniture (to make new furniture!) and other random pieces. You see, this is good stuff. The kind that helps me be efficient. I am not against new stuff as long as you leave my old stuff alone.
Then there is new stuff. The kind that is given as a present and is too ugly to use and too cheap to sell, yet to throw it away would be a waste, completely inefficient. This is the reason why I sometimes get upset over gifts. I feel guilty because we are supposed to be thankful for gifts, but what am I supposed to do with a fishing rod someone finds so pretty? And does my baby really need a third set of plastic bath toys?
There is still another kind of stuff: these big and small purchases that come with a new baby. Once a baby is in sight, your home begins to fill with all these nice-to-have items. The baby gets her own stroller for a price of a small car, her own swing with a thousand buttons, a crib, a bathing tub, a play mat, a dozen blankets, a dozen bottles, a dozen pacifiers and her very own garbage can. At some point you wonder if the relation between the weight of the baby and the weight of the baby stuff is still appropriate.
Stuff is difficult to resist, but every once in a while it’s time to say, “I can part with this old shirt sleeve. I could survive without a fishing rod. And hey, he’s just a little baby, he surely doesn’t have to contribute to so much waste.”