To give and then not feel that one has given is the very best of all ways of giving. ~Max Beerbohm
I’ve learned a lot in my journey toward minimalism: It takes time (I’ve been working on it for over five years), patience (not everyone in my family is always on board), and discipline (shopping and consumerism was deeply ingrained in my being) – and each day I continue to learn more. The joy of giving openly and freely comes so easily, and since I’ve been de-cluttering, I’ve been looking for ways for other people to enjoy the things I no longer need.
My default has been our local charity shop, but I find it very rewarding when I find creative ways to pass along things our family no longer needs. Recently, I found a practical way to remove a few extra kitchen items I wasn’t using.
Last week my husband and our boys departed for our annual trip to Plumas County. Each year we rent a “housekeeping” cabin; the cabins look like the log cabins on the Log Cabin Syrup label and because they are housekeeping cabins, they aren’t fancy or glamorous; instead, they feel comfortable and nostalgic. There are 32 cabins at the resort along with the Lodge – which is “the” social scene for the kids and teenagers. But I digress.
I love arriving at our cabin (#30) and seeing what has changed since the previous year. I never know what will be in the kitchen – there are always dishes, glasses, cups, and cookware – much of which is mismatched and adds to the quirkiness of staying there – and often times kitchen items move from cabin to cabin: if your cabin doesn’t have a large platter, you check with your neighbors in the other cabins and see if they have one you can use. Invariably, the “borrowed” items don’t get returned so you never know what you’re going to find in the kitchen – and one of my favorite parts of our arrival.
Before we packed up for our trip last week, I thought about taking a few kitchen items I had duplicates of and no longer needed: a baking sheet, a rectangular baking pan, and a set of Tupperware measuring cups. During our week-long vacation, I used the measuring cups once, and the baking pan and baking sheet twice. I was glad that I had been able to put them to use and knowing that I wouldn’t be packing them up to take home.
The day before we left, I was in the Lodge waiting to settle our bill. While I waited for June to print out my invoice, my eyes wandered over to the bookcase against the wall. “Take a book, leave a book”. I had completely forgotten to pack a few novels to leave behind. As I studied the bookcase, I noticed that there weren’t any children’s books on the shelves, only adult and teen fiction. My body tingled with excitement: next year I would have my boys go through their books and pull the ones they no longer read and bring them to the Lodge. Here was another practical way to pass along items so that others could enjoy them.
When we packed up for our return trip home, I left the three kitchen items I had brought from home behind for the next guests to use. It felt good coming home a bit lighter and I must admit, I am looking forward to seeing if they are still in cabin #30 next year.
I love that this journey has helped me see beyond my own needs and allowed me to help others. I love that my kids are getting in the habit of giving and sharing those things they no longer use, and I love knowing that at some point (I hope) they (like me), will realize there is no need to have so much stuff in their lives.