I recently replaced six outdoor light fixtures on our house. The old ones still worked, but were many years out-of-date and needed a paint job. It was great timing, because there was a good price for replacements at a store we frequent which used more efficient LED bulbs.
I kept all the hardware intact on the old lights, and placed them into a box in the garage. The next time I ran errands, I stopped at the Habitat ReStore to drop them off, along with a few other odds and ends. Unfortunately for me, Habitat had to deny the acceptance of the light fixtures...they had too many in stock already!
Instead of being upset, I thought of how it was such wonderful problem for the ReStore to have. It meant that a LOT of other people had passed on their light fixtures to be reused, and this is a great step in the right direction.
Years ago, especially when all our kiddos were young, we wouldn't have been able to replace our light fixtures. I simply would have repainted them. Lord knows how much we patched, painted, and repaired. It didn't bother us in the least to eek out a bit more life from our well-loved belongings. We knew the time would come when we could simply replace them and buy knew. We frequented Goodwill and the Habitat Restore, (and still do!)
One of the great joys I have as an organizer is to make donations on behalf of my clients. I have a long list of area organizations and items they want and need (here). On this list are large, corporate organizations, small local ones, churches, and schools. Some raise money to purchase new items for others, some accept food donations for local people in need, others use the items themselves. It makes me cringe when I think about how much waste there is in our country. So many go without so much, and passing your gently used items along is one way to share your generosity with others. Whether or not you agree with a certain organization's finances or choices, perhaps you CAN agree that it is better to pass useful things along than to throw them away.
When you think about it, we really can get along very comfortably in life with so much less than we have (vacation is a perfect time to think about this!). In fact, some of our family's leanest times have been the most powerful and meaningful times of growth. I have never felt that I have given up more than I have gained by choosing to stay at home with our girls. I loved my career as a teacher. We would have had more financial security if I had continued working. But having to budget one income to support a family of five was nothing compared to the joy of raising our kids. It was a simply a chapter in our story as a family. We learned to do with less, and it was worth it.
Perhaps you are struggling to feel grateful right now during the holiday season. Take a look at your surroundings. Do the items you see have meaning? Are they useful? Helpful? Necessary?
Consider giving back this season. Salvation Army bell ringers are everywhere. Giving trees are visible in churches and government buildings. The Warming Center accepts blankets, socks, and food. Heck, Goodwill even has a drive up! Who knows, giving back may even change YOUR life.