Welcome, January, you cruel month you. For the past six weeks most of us have stuffed ourselves with turkey, attended decadent holiday parties, unwrapped gifts galore and rang in the New Year with perhaps a little too much to drink. Now we are perched at the top of 2015 preparing to traverse the road before us, no matter how smooth or rough it may be. We are at the point now when we face the burgeoning debt accumulated over the last few months, start setting our alarm clocks for the daily grind that now seems to grind harder and begin the hibernation forced upon us by winter’s chill.
Yesterday, I was looking for a Phillips screwdriver to fix a chair that had gone wonky. For weeks that screwdriver had been in a certain drawer. Naturally, when I went to get it, it wasn’t there. Was it in the Elf Kit? Was it misplaced after Izzy put batteries in her RC quad-copter? The only thing I knew was that I couldn’t find it when I needed it. So that got me to thinking about the things which I will, for want of a better label, call “my stuff.” I spent a good deal of time this year filling two 10-yard dumpsters with “stuff” that we no longer used or that was damaged beyond repair. There were many moments during that process that the word “stuff” made me think of this infamous George Carlin skit.
Every year, shortly after Thanksgiving, my husband and I get requests for lists of what we want for Christmas. I try throughout the year to add things to my wish list and to my children’s so that when I am asked it is only a matter of sending a hyperlink. As I speed toward my 50th year on this Earth, I find that I am less concerned with tangible objects and more with experiences which, again, leads me think about stuff. So, I’ve come up a timeline, of sorts, about stuff.
Infancy to 3 Years: “I am so glad that there are people that make sure I get all of the stuff I need. Food to eat, clean clothes to wear, a warm place to sleep at night and people to love me because I can’t do that stuff for myself.”
3-10 Years: “I still like the food, the clothes and being warm but now I could really use some stuff to entertain me because, let’s be honest, hanging out with grown-ups is boring unless they are playing with me and my stuff.”
11-15 Years: “I really need more stuff. Stuff that will keep me out of my parents’ hair. Stuff that will make me popular and attractive and stuff that will make people want to be my friend. Also, I wish my siblings would stop touching my stuff.”
15-18 Years: “So you’re telling me that in order to get more stuff I need to get a job and pay for my own stuff? Oh, by the way, thanks for the food, clothing and shelter. Or not. Because I’m a teenager and I’m entitled to all that stuff.”
18-21 Years: “Oh. My. God. My roommate is touching my stuff. Also, can you please send me money and stuff like laundry detergent, Ramen noodles and spending money because they don’t have the same stuff here in the dorm as they do at home?”
21-25 Years: “Wow! I have a credit card and I can buy a lot of stuff for my new apartment and pay for stuff at the bar (and I won’t realize how much it will cost until I am in my thirties). Also, I look amazing in all of the stuff I bought at the mall yesterday. I’ll make my school loan payment tomorrow.”
25-30 Years: “So I can’t buy any more stuff because I have to save money for my wedding and/or down payment on a house/apartment. Once I have the house, though, I will need to fill it with stuff.”
30-35 Years: “Wait! My stuff is now our stuff? WTF? And, Oh. My. God. People are coming over so we need to move “our” stuff out of the way so that people think we live life according to Martha Stewart Living.”
35-45 Years: “After I have spent most of my money on a mortgage and paying bills, anything I have left is spent on buying stuff for my kids. Also, it would appear that my stuff is now their stuff. WTF? I need a drink. So the stuff I need has to be 80 proof or higher.”
45-55 Years: “We can’t afford any stuff. We are paying off a legacy of debt and sending three kids to college. Also, we are having a lot of tag sales to sell our stuff.”
55-65 Years: “This house is really big and there isn’t as much stuff in it anymore because we threw it in a dumpster or sold it at a tag sale. Time to move to a smaller place where we intend to only bring the special stuff with us.”
65-75 Years: “Now that we’ve retired and live in a smaller house, we don’t need any more stuff. We will gladly buy stuff for our children and grandchildren but we have everything we need. Also, we’re on a Social Security budget. So there’s that.”
75+ Years: “The stuff we want can’t be shipped via Amazon. The stuff that is most important is the memories we made, the traditions we established and the people that we share our time with. We are so glad that there are people in our lives that make sure we get all of the stuff we need. Food to eat, clean clothes to wear, a warm place to sleep at night and people to love us. Because we can’t do that ourselves.”