14. The Trapple

Right around the holidays, I get into a certain psychotic mindset (like that crazed woman from the Target commercials). Seasonal things are my absolute favorite.

There’s a deal on cinnamon-scented candles that may or may not burn your lungs and cause internal bleeding? Throw it in the cart. 99 cent candy canes that went stale because they didn’t sell last Christmas? Let me at ’em. Provocative Dancing Santa that does a special rendition to “Jingle Bell Rock”? Why not!

Don’t even get me started on the red holiday cups at Starbucks…

When I was little, I used to get the Toys R Us catalog and circle a minimum of four items on each page and leave it by the fireplace so that Santa would know what toys to bring me (I know, I’m a spoiled brat). My christmas list would actually constitute enough pages to make up a relatively long novel. Around the holidays, I would transform into that biotch Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate factory who wants everything (“I WANT IT NOW, DADDY!”).

Sometimes I get so wrapped up (pun-intended) in the holidays that I forget to separate my wants from my needs. Although almost all Christmas movie specials have that underlying plot conclusion where the main character realizes that Christmas is about much more than just materialism but rather the spirit of giving/love/carving roast beast together, I’ve yet to learn my lesson.

Today, I came across some beautifully clever designs by Erin Hanson. In her illustrations, she separates her wants vs. needs:

What I love the most about her illustrations is my ability to relate to every single one of them. Truthfully, I don’t need many of the things that I want. But it’s hard for me to put this into perspective as I flip through catalogs or read about the newest technology innovation.

As a consumer culture, we’ve evolved into a society that places an immense value on things. We determine our success and self-worth based on our accumulation of these things. I myself constantly fall into what I like to call “The Trapple” — in other words, the trap of the intense urge to obtain the latest and greatest product model (I came up with this word because I always want the latest Apple product, even though there is typically a miniscule change between each model…hence “Trapple”).

Most people “want” everything, but they only “need” enough to survive.

Separating my wants and needs is something that I need to do more often. It’s fun to get new things, and it feels good to carelessly splurge after earning it through hard work. But the important thing is to remember that things don’t define you.

If you spend all of your time thinking about what you want, you can’t be thankful for what you have. 

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