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'Less is more'? That's rich Robert J. Nebel - For the Journal-Constitution

Friday, September 26, 2003

As I was cleaning out my garage over the weekend, I announced without a hint of trepidation, "Honey, we just have too much junk!"

Shooting a blank stare at me from across the garage, which looks as if Hurricane Isabel had hit it, she replied, "Well, what do you expect with having a 5-year-old?"

Like most suburban households with children, we are flooded with a backlog of toys, clothes, artwork and prizes from cereal boxes that fell under the refrigerator and were saved at the last minute.

I am grateful that we received gifts and were able to purchase these wonderful items for my daughter. Like many of today's parents, we are the recipients of year-round gifts from friends and family who had only the best intentions for our child.

Chief among the scattered wreckage in our garage are toys and designer clothes. Some parenting experts say that modern children are generally spoiled with too many gifts and should be cutting holes in Dixie Cups instead of playing with Game Boys.

At age 5 and under, should any child own designer label garments? "No!" says consumer reporter Clark Howard. The local cheapskate says that parents should educate their children that Value City's quality is just as good as Ralph Lauren's.

Yeah, right. Try telling to that my media savvy child, who is well-versed in current couture through The Disney Channel and other television outlets, radio and print ads. Sorry, but Lizzie McGuire and Britney Spears have a huge influence in our home.

I do not have the definitive answer to solving our junk problem. What I do know is that most of this society is guilty of gluttony.

Howard recently cited a survey that found parents spoil their children more than ever with lavish parties and gifts. Kudos to him for limiting his youngster to the dollar store.

Somehow we feel that possessing more is good for growth and having less is an impediment in life.

Take a look around. We are a culture drowning in a sea of oversized meals, houses and SUVs.

But criticizing it makes you look like a "nuts and berries" ogre.

You read about those who have scaled down their lives by ridding themselves of possessions and credit cards. The adage "less is more" could not be any more true, but society does not believe it. When it does, then maybe we will be successful in our junk reduction.

In the meantime, hold those garage sales or donate those items. What is one person's junk may be another person's treasure.

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