I don’t know about you, but I’m drowning in crap. I have more books than I have shelves. My son has more toys than he has space. Our second bedroom can’t be used as a bedroom, it’s just a storage room. And our “living” space has a pile in every corner. It’s embarrassing. I don’t want people over. And I have a sinking suspicion I’m not alone in this.
The Year Without A Purchase is a collection of anecdotal stories of one family’s journey to free themselves from the tyranny of stuff. The parents had gone on a mission trip years ago and they wanted to recapture the of social responsibility that they had originally come home with. While they were on the trip, they had written a family mission statement and they had discovered years later that they weren’t exactly living up to it.
So the decision was made to go an entire year without buying anything. Of course, this had to have some caveats. They could still buy food and toiletries. If something broke, they had to try to fix it themselves. If that failed, then and only then could they discuss whether to buy a new one. Presents had to be “experience” presents like eating at a restaurant together or something made from materials on hand, rather than buying new stuff.
Looking at my mounds of stuff, I think we could easily do such a challenge without much trouble at all. Seriously, my son has gifts he hasn’t even opened yet. I don’t think he’d even notice if we didn’t buy him any new stuff for a while.
Each chapter is a story or two from that year. Some of the stories are fun. Some of them are thought provoking. The book as a whole is full of advice and ideas for doing this challenge yourself. Although the authors are Christians, I think everyone could benefit from this book. The advice and the stories have very broad appeal.
One of my favorite ideas from the book is to give children only three gifts at Christmas because that’s all Jesus got. I had never heard of this idea before. I’m not sure how well that will work for our family since we essentially have three Christmases because we live so stinking far away from our families, but it might work for yours.
The Year Without a Purchase is available at your favorite bookseller now. I got the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review due to my membership in NetGalley. Thank you Westminster John Knox Press!
A small disclaimer for my Catholic friends: Your heart may hurt a bit when you read that the author of this book is a former Catholic. This is particularly painful when he discusses getting a vasectomy and in one chapter where he discusses being inspired by Muslim prayer practices to start praying multiple times a day. Was he never exposed to the beauty of the Liturgy of the Hours? Was he never exposed to Theology of the Body? I would still encourage you to read the book, but I know some of my followers could be bugged by these passages, so I wanted to give you a heads up.