Growing up in a family that owned and ran a few small women’s clothing stores in the 1950s and ’60s, I often wondered why I didn’t like shopping too much. I didn’t mind it — nice clothes were and are fun to have — but I never embraced the “we’re going shopping!!!” excitement that gripped so many of my friends.
I know my mom adored shopping, especially in “our” stores. She could spend all day there, both enjoying the nice things she could buy and the fact that she was the owner’s wife. I used to hang back, not entirely comfortable with the attention she received or the endless dresses she wanted me to try on when I got old enough. (Most of my girlfriends thought I was nuts.)
Fast-forward to today, and I still feel less than excited about shopping, especially clothes shopping. Boring!
Maybe it’s due to my dislike of the attention my mom got in those days.
Maybe it’s because I’m an adopted kid and just not the same as she was and still is.
Maybe it’s just how I’m wired.
Whatever the reason, I know that I felt a kinship with a quote I saw years ago, supposedly about how a 19th century Boston Brahmin answered a question about where Boston women bought their hats:
We don’t buy our hats. We have our hats.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve embraced the idea I see in those words. I’ve seen perfectly good things tossed out — furniture, clothing, food — and wondered why.
Why are so many old things of no value?
Is it the Shiny New Object Syndrome?
Is it the attention something new will get from others, even if not from me?
Does something new always mean something better?
Is bigger really better?
Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy to have something new if it fulfills a need, not just a want (double points if it’s both a need AND a want). I’m perfectly fine spending money on something that will give me long-lasting happiness, not just something trendy that will inevitably be replaced in many minds by the Next Big Thing.
I now live in a really small 525 s.f. cottage (about 49 square meters) by a beautiful bay on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, USA. The water and sky are never exactly the same day to day, but they’re always gorgeous. They speak and sing to me. Sometimes they’re even soothing.
My little house is about 1/5th the average size of homes here in the U.S., but the happy factor is about 10 times more, at least for me and many others who call this small village home.
It’s a simple place and easy to clean. Basically one big room with high ceilings, so it feels bigger than it is. A joy to live in.
I now “have” my things. The pictures / clothes / pots & pans / dishes / whatevers that made it to this house are what I have. I don’t feel any need to trade 99% of them in for something new. They’re my comfort things; goods that have served me well for up to 40 years (my glider), and certainly for 10 or 15 years. They fit me. They work well. Why not keep them?
And here are three pictures that pretty much sum up why I love living here.
Left: View from my enclosed back sun porch. Right: Amazing sunset over the bay.
Bottom left: A foggy day
Of course there are things I need to buy. But there are so many other things I need to appreciate. I am determined to enjoy and appreciate all the lovely things and people in my life.
Do you have YOUR hats? Have you also found value in older things, comfortable things, smaller things? Or are you younger and more in a growth mode? I would love to know!