The Black Friday madness is all that anyone needs to see in order to understand a seriously flawed way of thinking. Only hours after celebrating Thanksgiving – a day set aside to thank God for all that we have been blessed with – crowds of people obsessed with buying the latest trinkets from China at a lower price push and shove to grab more “stuff”. Is anything they are buying going to last? Will it be here two years from now? Is there any possibility that it will be handed down to future generations as a treasured heirloom? No, it will end up in a landfill as a testament to consumerism as the highest pursuit, while treating the land as nothing more than a source for raw materials and a dumping ground for last year’s trinkets.
My wife and I enjoy looking through small town antique shops. Occasionally, we will find something to buy, but mostly it is a form of entertainment and a chance to see what generations past have treasured. We have noticed that, over the years, there is more and more high quality furniture and other items available in these shops at very reasonable prices. The shop owners tell us that there is no shortage of items available. Parents die, and their children have no interest in that heavy, solid wood furniture or bone china or old sterling silverware beyond asking, “What’s it worth?”
We hear the same story time after time – today, people would rather buy junk from Ikea or Walmart, knowing that it will last until they get bored with it and want to redecorate or relocate. Dump the old junk, and buy the new junk. The assumption is that there will always be new junk available whenever they need it – an endless supply of new stuff from China, based on an endless supply of raw materials stripped from the land.
Things that are passed down from one generation to the next are not just things – they are tangible connections with our past. That old sideboard in the family farmhouse is not just a worn out cabinet to store things in – it is an item that my ancestors thought highly enough of to take up precious space in a covered wagon when they moved from Alabama to Florida. It is something that each generation is shown as they hear the stories of how our family moved in the days before moving vans and interstate highways.
Don’t short-change those who come after you. Choose things that have lasting value; things that aren’t trendy that will go out of style next year; that won’t fall apart and can’t be repaired. It doesn’t have to be expensive. We have found some very nice solid wood furniture in second hand stores. We have found sets of fine china at the Goodwill store at a price not much more than what you might pay for a good brand of paper plates. Think long term. Think of your descendants. Reject the temporary. Embrace the timeless.