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Do You Like Nice Things?

A friend asked me a question yesterday that caught me off guard. The query was, “Why don’t you like nice things?”

All I could muster for a reply at first was a quizzical look. I followed that up with a, “Huh?”

And the question was repeated, “Why don’t you like nice things??”

I sat there still holding on to my confused expression. I was thinking to myself, “I like lots of nice things. What is she trying to imply?!”

And then it hit me. I said, “Oh, you mean stuff? Material things??”

She confirmed that I now understood her question.

For my answer I had to be honest with her as well as myself. I wanted to make sure she didn’t have a misunderstanding of me. I’m not against all material things. I’m not even against any of them. I just don’t personally place a very high value on many things that other people might.

If a person has been fortunate enough to amass enough capital to afford a house in the Virgin Islands then my hat goes off to them. A house in the islands can be a comfortable way to diversify a realty portfolio as part of a wider investment strategy.

A house like that could be passed on from generation to generation. It could be a gathering point for cousins and nephews and grandparents and a wonderful place to build a family bond. And if the time arose then it could be sold off hopefully and often at an appreciated value. This investment that earns a return is money well spent.

An alternative way to handle money is to squander it. This type of philosophy I have no respect for. And the pursuit of material goods or mental stimulation in this fashion to me is an abhorrence.

I’m not against being comfortable or dressing well when the occasion calls for it, but everything should be done within reason.

I know a lady who could go into her closet and pick out a different pair of shoes to wear every day for well over a year and never pick the same pair twice. I know a gentleman with a wardrobe and jewelry box big enough to outfit everybody in my whole neighborhood … twice.

These types of behaviors are the ones that I feel are beyond reason. And they’re ones that I never hope to display myself.

I’m thankful for my parents who raised me with my feet well-grounded. By the time I was five I had my lemonade stand among other entrepreneurial escapades. By the time I was ten, lawn-mowing and a paper-route were my means to financial freedom. I learned at a very young age the value of a hard-earned dollar. And forever those lessons will stay with me…

Why don’t I like nice things? I like nice things like beaches and oceans and scuba-diving and coral reefs with beautiful underwater wildlife. I like nice things like skateboading with the neighborhood kids and rollerblading with my dogs. I like nice things like big family meals with lots of meat and potatoes and a graham-cracker crust pie to wash them down with.

I don’t get such a thrill from material things because, well, they don’t make me happy. I want to be comfortable, but beyond that something that brings me the enjoyment that a birthday present never will is when I can add comfort to someone else’s life.

With extra money in my pocket I’m not thinking about what vacation I want to go on or what new style of jeans I want to get. Instead I think of all the little, innocent, unfortunate children that are going to find out that Santa doesn’t have the time to visit them this year. I think of all the children that are going to go through the Thanksgiving season without even getting a bite of turkey. And I also think of the kids that will be walking to school this winter in a t-shirt or sweatshirt because their parents couldn’t afford to get them a decent jacket.

What kind of man would I be if I’m wearing diamond bracelets while children are going without good food or ever learning about holiday spirit because their parents were too irresponsible or unfortunate to provide for their children themselves?

I don’t need “nice” things. My vision of heaven isn’t even loaded with material types of things. My happy place only needs a river, good music and lots of smiling faces. And really, as long as there are good-hearted, smiling faces around then I’ll be satisfied wherever I am.

Sadly, no matter how much I give there will still be children that go without the finer things in life. I’m only one man and I can only do as much as the good Lord will allow. I can’t change the whole world; I can only do my part.

BUT…

(I know this is crazy to imagine)

BUT…

If everyone felt the way I did; if everyone quit spending money frivolously on diamonds and casino trips and cigarettes (or whatever the case may be) then countless bank accounts would start filling up at an alarming rate. And then when November comes and goes every little kid that wanted would know what a bellyful of turkey feels like. Children all over would know what warmth and generosity at Christmas feels like and they’d never have to know what an empty stocking looks like. And no longer would there be houses with no stockings at all…

Now I didn’t say any of this to make me seem warm-hearted and giving. I’m just a regular person that comes with all flaws included. And people that are true benefactors of society with their hearts in the right places would never announce to the world about their generosity. The Lord knows what we give and He’s the only one that matters.

The reason I did write this was in hopes that it will be meaningful to at least one of you. And more importantly or precisely that it will mean maybe a few more young ones will get to feel the warmth and love during these upcoming holidays that they deserve.

If we all do what we can, we can make this world a caring place.

And with my thoughts to you…

kenneth w.

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