Friday, February 12, 2010

From mall to museum

Checking out flyers on a Sunday morning.

I like to go shopping. I like nearly everything about it. I like looking through the flyers, and driving to the store, and finding the good parking spot, and browsing, and choosing, and having something new. I like to be out with people, with the busyness of a crowd. I like stopping off at one store, and then another. I like the food court.

To my detriment, my husband also likes these things. He also likes looking at things we can't afford, and redesigning our home and wardrobes, and the vacations we take... So, between the two of us, we can create quite a little bit of a financial mess. Being neither ignorant of this fact nor completely irresponsible in our reaction to it, we have tried to make adjustments. My mall-walking has turned to thrift-store hopping, and my shopping habit, while down-scaled, lives on.

I recently read Denise Roy's Momfulness. While there were many parts that I enjoyed, that made me laugh, or that made me go, "hmm...", one part in particular stands out in my mind. Roy tells her readers about a monk being interviewed about his move from Eastern or Western culture. He says that in his country of origin, everything is organized around spirituality and prayer. There are rituals and routines in the lifestyle that support the pursuit of spirituality. Then he is asked about life in his new Western country home and says, "It is hard to live in a society that is organized around shopping."

Organized around shopping... Hardly the motto for an enriching existence, and yet, I see my own lifestyle too much reflected in that statement. I dream over things I find on the internet, I know all the good brands, I read the flyers, I watch the sales, I wait for the next paycheque... But a life organized around shopping isn't what I am setting out to acheive. It certainly isn't the life I want to model for my son, and yet, how many hours has he spent in the stroller or a shopping cart, along on one of my not-too-necessary shopping trips?

The new year has recently begun, and spring is just around the corner. In the spirit of this season of renewal, I am aiming to add more shopping-free outings to our repetoire, and we have done not too badly in the last few weeks. We have continued our once-a-week visits to the local library, and have started taking in the storytime for 2 year olds. Nik recieved memberships to 2 local museums for Christmas, and we have used them each once, so far. This past weekend, we took part in the annual Festival du Voyageur, an outdoor event featuring beautiful snow sculptures, that celebrates Franco-Manitoban history and culture.

It is like detox, though, this fighting the urge to shop. When I dropped off a thrift store donation early last week, I still just HAD to go in and look around. $15 and an armful of stuff later... I am not exactly a beacon of self-control. I try to remind myself of the many reasons there are to hate shopping, first among them being those annoying credit card bill deadlines. I also do not want to be sucked into a lifestyle defined by materialism, determining my worth by the things that I buy.

So, I will keep reminding myself to change our outing destinations from mall to museum, from book store to library, from coffee shop to park. And the flyers are going directly into the recycle bin for a while. No sense tempting fate.

Checking out fossils on a Saturday morning.

1 comment:

Sylvia said...

Good for you for recongizing a weakness and doing something about it! I'm sure your son appreciates the "non-shopping" outings, too :)

I find something fun to do once in a while is to "shop at home," that is go through the boxes of "stuff" that I've forgotten about and see what I might be able to use. Then the rest gets posted to Freecycle.

Another suggestion that I've done is to go to the mall (if it's the strolling around and looking at stuff that you really enjoy), but leave all your money at home-- cash, check card, credit card, everything. You might allow yourself five or ten bucks IN CASH to get a special treat to enjoy with your kid.

Good luck!

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