The Rant of the Season

Education & Training with Advantage Solutions Group

I've said it before: I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!! I love the whimsy. I love the joy. The carols. The thoughtfulness of others. And, I do love presents....But let's STOP buying and giving STUFF!

This week, I listened in on an interview my wonderful step-daughter, Coco Fossland conducted with Sue Rasmussen on Clearing the Clutter. This just seemed such relevant timing. Letting go of stuff... of physical stuff.... of old stuff that no longer "fits" figuratively -- and literally -- of relationships, of beliefs.

Wow! During the call, I expanded my notion of what clutter was and realized how very much of it I have. I've often told my real estate coaching clients that cleaning out their overfilled filing cabinets makes room for new clients to show up (and have seen the results of that act happen!). I know balancing the checkbook and taking incredibly good care of other integrity issues, cleans up issues that suck energy and keep us stuck. The call inspired me to go into 2010 with much of that clutter cleared -- I'll be giving stuff away, completing relationships, choosing to let go of those responsibilities that no longer make my heart sing... really questioning before I say yes to something if it fits with who I want to become. I plan to quit doing things just because I am good at them if they aren't a fun and growing place to be. I'm excited about the lightness I already feel. I will not live in the fear of what will happen when I say no to the things that I am just doing from the old me. I will trust myself and the universe.

And this all fits in with my yearly rant: most of us don't need more stuff. My mantra for this time of the year... for my present giving is to create memories instead of clutter. Don't get me wrong - I am not saying I won't gratefully accept and joyfully give presents but I want those gifts to be relevant. I am making my lists.... creating some fun! Last year I took the kids and grandkids to Los Cabos for a week. It was granddaughter, Julia's first trip to the ocean. She had never seen the beach and was a bit reluctant to walk in the sand in her bare feet! She did get over it before the week was done and was running gleefully. What a joy to be part of that!

Here are some ideas:

  1. Make something! I do family calendars personalized with dates and photos. And, my prickly pear jelly!
  2. Give a certificate for a shared experience. Maybe a concert or day at the zoo. Or a limo for viewing the holiday lights and a dinner or picnic after!
  3. Give a certificate for your time. A day of babysitting or cooking a gourmet dinner or a handyman day. I gave a monthly lunch delivered to my elderly uncle a few years ago
  4. Re-gift. Someone else may love a gift that wasn't right for you.

What have you done or what ideas do have? The best thing you can do this time of the year is to take care of yourself and have fun with others. Saying NO when you don't really want to do something is also a strategy to free you up to really enjoy the things you DO want to do!!!

I hope the month will be an amazing one! It is up to YOU!!!

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Comments (57)

Janet Guilbault
Platinum Home Mortgage Company - Walnut Creek, CA
San Francisco Bay Area Direct Mortgage Lender

I go to a lot of garage sales with my 80 year old parents who just LOVE to do this on Saturday mornings.

It really gives you a good look at all the useless stuff that we gift to each other because the retailers guilt us into it.

I haven't done any shopping this year. It feels a little weird, but I have ruined Christmas for myself in years gone by. While everyone else was sitting by the fire, I felt I needed to be in the mall.

PS I think re-gifting is a great idea.

Dec 09, 2009 11:57 AM
Mike nehmzow

God Bless and Merry Christmas to all

Dec 09, 2009 11:58 AM
Tessa Skeens
Hampton ReDesign, Home Staging and Redesign - Grand Junction, CO
Staging For Realtors, Builders & Investors

Great rant for the season!

At one point I had most of my possessions in a storage space while I was between houses. It was a revelation to realize how little of it I really needed on a day to day basis.

We don't need more stuff - the delight in a gift is always short lived, but the glow from spending time with friends and loved ones stays with us forever.

Dec 09, 2009 12:10 PM
Kathryn Acciari
Central One Federal Credit Union - Shrewsbury, MA
Mortgage Loan Originator

Joann, wonderful ranting post!  I like to give (and get) consumables:  coffee, wine, cognac, cookies, chocolate.  Really, what more does any one need? 

One of the items on my son's Christmas gift this year is "3 large cardboard boxes."  He wants to build a fort out of them.  Am I proud to see that on the list!

Our office is having a Yankee swap party, where each attendee brings something from home that they no longer want.  It can be new or used, a regift or just something that does not fit that person's style.  Should be a fun exchange.  I agree with you - no new stuff.

Dec 09, 2009 12:44 PM
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Hi Joeann -- Giving of oneself at the holidays, whether it's making food, desserts, or one's time, is what makes things special.

Dec 09, 2009 01:36 PM
Karen Pannell
Real Living / Home Realty - Owensboro, KY
Owensboro KY Real Estate -270-903-2167 Homes, Cond


Behind you all the way!  Amen and Amen!


Dec 09, 2009 02:11 PM
Kerry Lucasse
eXp Realty - Urban Nest Real Estate Group - Atlanta, GA
Your Urban Nest Atlanta Real Estate Consultant

I was just talking with my extended family about the gift exchanging and all the 'stuff' we collect year after year.  It just causes clutter and / or guilt (if you need to donate or re-gift).  I love that idea of giving gift cards for a shared experience.  Last year I made photo books and it was a big hit, especially with my neices.

Dec 09, 2009 03:21 PM
Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc.

Yes in this economy we realize our STUFF is just sitting in corners and places being unused and we are gathering up a carload to donate.  It's a good reminder to be grateful for what we have but that what we have is not what makes our lives, it's the people in them that we spend time with that makes life rich.  I am ever so grateful and have way too much STUFF, does it come with age that we get wiser or what?  I have always loved my stuff but seem to be outgrowing it as you said.  Hummmm.

Dec 09, 2009 06:39 PM
Doug Maynard
ReMax North Country Realty Inc. - Huntsville, ON

Great post! I enjoy giving and receiving gifts as much as anyone, however, when I step back and look at what is going on, I get so turned off by all the commercialism, and "gotta have the latest greatest gadget" mentality that seems to overtake so many people this time of year. The last couple Christmases I have tried scaling back a little on the gifts and tried sharing more about what the season really means to me and trying to give it a more personal touch.

Dec 09, 2009 11:18 PM
Nelson Carrillo
Real Estate eBroker, Inc. - Phone: (619) 940-6560 - Bonita, CA
South San Diego, CA Homes For Sale

I agree with you! For me the winter holiday season is not something to "buy a gift and get it over with."  But rather memory building that makes it all worth it.  Something to share and make the moment meaningful with your loved ones.  Thank you for sharing! Great post!

Dec 10, 2009 12:08 AM
Jim O'Donnell
Raleigh Cary Realty - Fuquay Varina, NC

I agree Christmas has lost some of it's meaning with the stress of what to give someone.  I like your ideas.  My children are all grown, but I remember the day when my wife would count the presents to make sure they were close in number and the kids would tear thru them and then look around like, "thats it".  Thanks for sharing

Dec 10, 2009 12:40 AM
Carra Riley & Declan Kenyon
Brokers Guild Cherry Creek Ltd - Westminster, CO
Helping people Transition at all ages!


Thanks for showing us the way!  What a wonderful feature! Your rant is really not a rant... it is about a lifestyle change and as the world evolves I think it is the perfect message to get back to balance!  I am a big fan of "re gifting"  I am another big fan of doing SOMETHING with the person like going to a show,movie, spa day or dinner.  I have long taught my kids and grand kids to give gift certificate books which they make and include things like a back rub, helping with projects, putting away the ornaments things that they really don't want to do but will make the other person happy!  So the really learn what giving is! 

Have a wonderful Christmas filled with special memories!

Dec 10, 2009 11:29 AM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Some of my favorite gifts to give are pictures and baked goodies.  My sons love to bake with me so it just adds to how much fun it is.

Dec 10, 2009 03:27 PM
Frances Flynn Thorsen
eXp Realty LLC - State College, PA
Author | REALTOR | Educator

I love the flavor of a rant that has not a clue of toxicity! This is an elegant rant and we can all take a lesson. Have fun, Joeann, creating your calendars and certificates ...Many of us have watched for years as you get underway with your special gift-giving celebration. I know your family and friends enjoy your calendars all year long. It is a precious tradition and a beautiful way to let people know how special they are in your life.

I'm writing poems and attaching the verse to photos I took ... I've done this on occasion but never made it part of a Christmas gift-giving project. Here is an example: A Reinvention Chorale I created in Hawaii last year.

This year I will invest time in poetry as a labor of love.


Dec 11, 2009 04:40 AM
Diana Hoyt
Lakes Region Buchanan Group, Ossipee, NH - Ossipee, NH

I am not a fan of re-gifting as it will undoubtedly come back to haunt you one day, but I do believe in home-made gifts.  One of my favorites that I have received and still use 15 years is a fellow REALTOR gave me hand woven potholders (not the kids craft pot holders) and they are the BEST I've ever had.   I have made many, many gifts - chrocheted items, (I have a great afghan that can be made in a couple of days if you keep at it and it is gorgeous, heavy and warm) cookies, candies, this year fruit cakes that are GOOD - (Alton Brown - free range fruitcake), ceramic items for years, wreaths and other decorations.  I usually make one or more wreaths or afghans to raffle off.   This year a wreath for my church and in past years for our scholarship fund at our local board.   I donate to a worthy cause which differs each year - this year for Breast Cancer and our local REALTOR board collects toys for a child at our installation banquet in November.  This year, having lost my dog on Nov 8th, I am going to donate (unused food and $$$) to our shelter in her name.  One thing that I would like to do is voluneer at a homeless shelter.  We don't have one in our area so I give $$$ or food to the food pantry. 

No matter what you celebrate - Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza - it doesn't matter, just make memories.  They are the best gifts ever!

Dec 11, 2009 05:33 AM
Rachelle McMahan
Golf Savings Bank - Grants Pass, OR

I'm with you!  I LOVE Christmas.   Our favorite tradition is making candy together.  Fudge, coconut bon-bon's, toffee, cookies.   My son and I started this when he was little and we continue on to this day.  He's in college now and I actually think he looks forward to it more than I do.  The best part is the three of us sitting around the table with bowls of frosting decorating our cookies.  My poor husband is just terrible at cookie decorating but somehow his cookies always taste the best!!!

For my family (I have seven brothers and two sisters) I did something a little different this year.  Our mom is suffering with Alzheimer's. She still knows us all, thank God, but who knows for how much longer. The thought occurred to me that none of the kids have a recent picture of her.  So, I called a photographer friend of mine. We took mom and her two dogs outside this fall and did a photo shoot.  She had SO MUCH FUN.  I have to admit, the smile on her face and the joy she experienced that day is greater than ANY gift that could be purchased at a store.   That day in October was my Merry Christmas!

I can't wait for all the kids to receive a Christmas picture of mom and her pooches!

Merry Christmas!

Dec 14, 2009 07:59 AM
Jorgette Krsulic
Colorado Casa, REALTORS - Colorado Springs, CO

What great ideas... Boris and I both try to make the gifts that we give at Christmas to family and friends. 

But my question is how to get rid of the STUFF - I am ashamed to admit that when Boris and I moved two years ago,it took us almost 8 months of packing and moving.  It was horrible.  It was during this move that I discovered things from my childhood had found their way into my home.  After 30 years of marriage and the military lifestyle - you'd think we wouldn't have much.  Ha!

Maybe we need a blog on how to get rid of that stuff to be able to unclutter and breathe going into the future. 

Joann, keep doing what you do!  You're my hero!

Dec 14, 2009 02:18 PM
Saralou Durham
RE/MAX Preferred Group - Cincinnati Real Estate Team - Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati Perspective Hyde Park,Anderson,Mt. Adam

I have gotten and received gifts from  This international aid group helps people help themselves. It is hard for any of us to understand what an animal can mean to a family in need, for themselves and for their families.  The stories are inspirational and will never be forgotten.  I know I remember who gave me that gift long after I will forget another gift!

Dec 15, 2009 08:26 AM
Rose Marie McNair

Your wisdom is bountiful!  And I love all that you say.  I have a daughter-in-law who loves the magazine, Real Simple, and her home looks just like all the things that simplicity esplouses: neatness, clarity, and definitely organization...

I realikze I've "collected" so much during my life--things that remind me of my mom, my mother-in-law, my father, and dear grandparents,  who have all passed away.  Yet, those "things" can never replace the memories. Although, it's difficult, I'm giving much of it away now!  And, I'm such a "paper collector, and now an email collector...My poor file cabinets, and poor "fat" computer.  Hmmm, seems everything around me needs to be trimmed down.  There is a theme here! 

Happy Holidays, dear Joeann!




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Jul 23, 2012 09:41 AM