we're blessed. we're growing. we're rich compared to so many in the world at large. but...

things are tight. and we're okay with that. no, really we are. we've worked hard in the past year and a half to knock out our consumer debt, and now we're (mainly) working on student loan debt. like so many americans our age, we're just plain thankful that we're employed and not homeless. like so many americans, we've struggled with the constant pressure to live beyond our means. the holidays are coming up and i have to confess:

i'm sick of it. i am sick of feeling like i *have* to measure up. that i have to give certain kinds of gifts and make sure that no one is forgotten. that every family member gets something they want... the pressure is looming above me and I HATE IT.

pretty sure that most people who know me are not terribly surprised by that statement. eric and i have talked a lot since we married, well and before too, about what kind of lifestyle we want to have. we're lovers of good things. good food, good books, good conversation and good sturdy things... we love our family time, and we love our spiritual family near and far.

we also feel strongly that less is more.

no, like really strongly.

as in, it's a battle but i am making a conscious effort not to shop "just for fun" anymore. i know myself, and i always end up feeling dissatisfied. i feel the pressure to consume, to buy buy buy... even if what i'm purchasing isn't exactly what i need. how is that good?

we are so concerned in our culture with being green - we're really into emphasizing recycling, so trendy now - and buying (buying!) the right kind of water bottles and baby products (products!) and purchasing (purchasing!) the best reusable grocery bags. ugh. marketing marketing marketing. you are so clever.

and i want the super cute reusable totes from my favorite box store. i want the awesome glass water bottles from starbucks. but i really and truly don't need them. i have a kitchen full of dishes and gadgets, closets full of clothing, unfinished crafts, scarves and umbrellas and christmas decorations. we moved into a house that is about 1200 square feet and were thankful we had attic space to store a box of books we don't have room for and two tubs of sentimental keepsakes that we are not able to part with. but they're just sitting there, like half the stuff we own.

sure, ez needs some socks that fit her and it would be great to be able to buy her another book or that little wooden car in the toy store, but she has all she needs too. i love bringing her into the church nursery and seeing her dive out of my arms toward a room full of toys. it's like disneyland for her because she has *just enough* at home...

we have just enough, and it leaves room for big feelings like peace and contentment. it gives us a chance to delight in the invitation to watch a football game at a friend's house, because we don't have the mental clutter of cable TV all the time. it means that an evening spent watching our baby play and explore a house that is friendly and spare with plenty of room to crawl around in is the best entertainment ever. a clear dining room table means i can put a beautiful meal on it, pull up the highchair, pour some tea and listen to my husband talk about his day. we are rich because we have less.

someday, we will have more breathing room in our budget. debts will be repaid and we will have learned better habits... it's what we're doing right now. right now we are making the choices that will enable us to relax and enjoy being able to save for retirement and our daughter's college (or whatever she wants to do) fund. right now we are learning self control. we are disciplining ourselves so that the gift we give ourselves and our little girl is an enduring one amounting to more than just a few christmases with piles of gifts.

this year, we are opening a savings account for ezri. it's her birthday present. every year we will add to it, and encourage those family members who wish to gift her to consider adding to it as well. there may be a few handmade gifts that i make this year for her and for others, because that is what we can give and it is our best right now. i am hoping we can save and get her a little christmas dress, or a doll ...

but the reality is, she won't remember that. we all know that. we will cherish any and every tangible physical gift we are given and that she is given because it comes from the hearts of those who love us. and we will give from our hearts too.

and in the meantime i will remind myself that i don't have to worry about what others think of my choices, and that most people are supportive even if they think we're odd...

i like being odd. i like being less burdened. i like that i have loved ones who share the burdens i have with me. i am blessed, with less.