I love the holidays, but I have a huge problem with premature holiday decorating.

Maybe I am in the minority here these days, but I like to buy my Halloween candy in October, not in August, and I certainly don’t appreciate Christmas music being blasted in the grocery store the first of November as I am beginning my Thanksgiving prep.

I’m not a Grinch by any means, I just like to enjoy my holidays one at a time.

I feel like every year holidays get pushed on us sooner and sooner. Now that I have kiddos of my own and baby weight to still loose, I purposely waited until the last minute to buy my Halloween candy. When I arrived at my favorite red and white store in my active wear, I couldn’t believe that the entire Halloween section had been reduced to a single aisle.

My jaw then hit the floor while I watched store associates begin to assemble fixtures and empty boxes of Christmas garb.

Even my mailbox is my enemy.

Christmas catalogues began flooding my mailbox in September, with promises of getting “Black Friday” deals now instead of later.

Make it stop!

This brings me to my next soap box. Not hating on Madonna or anything, but why are we so obsessed with material possessions.

We have become a culture obsessed with stuff. Our homes and even are cars are overrun with stuff.

Consider these statistics from the LA Times and cited by professional organizer Regina Lark: “The average U.S. household has 300,000 things, from paper clips to ironing boards. U.S. children make up 3.7 percent of children on the planet but have 47 percent of all toys and children’s books.”

We cherish and hoard things. We move them from shelves to closets, and for us military families, from home to home, so long as we don’t exceed the weight limit for our household goods. For crying out loud the federal government even estimates that a quarter of Americans with two-car garages don’t use them for automobiles.

As I hang my head in shame, I can attest to that. My garage is full of dusty workout equipment, strollers and whatever else I couldn’t cram into my attic.

I read somewhere that our homes have even tripled in size over the last 50 years, yet our families are smaller. We are buying bigger and bigger houses for our all of stuff rather than our families.

From the minute I found out I was going to be a mom, I’ve looked more forward to the holiday season, but I am putting my foot down this year.

Our kids have so much stuff they have a hard time figuring out what to play with. If that isn’t serious #FirstWorldProblems, I don’t what is.

Don’t worry, I am not jumping on this whole “tiny house” movement, I like the stuff I have, I’m just over shopping for and collecting worthless stuff .

Going forward, my plan is to focus on enriching our lives and the lives of those we care about.

If you are one of those people that feel obligated to get my kids or anyone’s kids something, get them something that will last longer than it took them to wrestle it from its package. Memberships to a zoo, museum, aquarium, or other local spot are gifts that keep on giving all year long. Heck, offer to pay for a dance, karate or gymnastics class!

As for the adults in your life, do something together — paint night, wine tasting, rock climbing — rather than exchange awful White Elephant gifts.

Most importantly, for your fellow parent friends out there clinging to life post daylight saving time, gift cards! I run on caffeine and Jesus — they keep me sane, because twins. Jesus is free, coffee is not. As for restaurants, if it’s not Chick-fil-A, my hubby and I don’t get to enjoy it together.

So how about a gift card and an offer to babysit?

Now that’s what I call a win-win.

Vanessa Lynch is an Army spouse, mother and former metro editor for the Killeen Daily Herald.

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