One reason I’m afraid to move back to the U.S.

 

This time of year I find myself thinking more and more about stuff. About shoes and gadgets and scarves and face creams. I find myself lured onto websites with the promise of “20% OFF” and Googling “the perfect gift” for family members who would probably be happy to simply spend time together — the ultimate luxury.

It’s not only about the holidays, but about our annual return to the U.S. for the holidays that has us stocking up on inexpensive goodies like squirrels for the winter. Yes, they have a lot of this stuff in Switzerland, but it is almost prohibitively expensive to buy. So, I don’t.

Moreover, you can’t pop onto Amazon Switzerland and order sneakers to be delivered in 24 hours because Amazon Switzerland doesn’t exist. You can order those sneakers from Amazon Germany, pay the hefty import taxes and then pick it up at your local post office a week later. Those little hassles add up and suddenly you realize you haven’t been on the Amazon website at all in 11 months. Things that I saved to “My wish list” last January now seem frivolous. Somehow we managed without the bottle warmer and the teething necklace, because we never needed them in the first place.

And that feeling — the “thank God we didn’t get stuff we didn’t need!” feeling — is so empowering. I love it.

IMG_7912I was talking to a friend the other day who moved back to the U.S. after nearly three years living in Geneva. One of my first questions was “Do you just order whatever you want now?” I was practically salivating through the phone thinking of all the things I would buy.

She laughed and said “Yesterday I buckled the kids into their carseats and drove to the Container Store to buy a huge shelf that my husband pointed out I could have had delivered the same day. I just forgot.” She confessed she was having trouble adjusting to the one-click, drive-thru, delivered-to-your-door lifestyle that we had once lived.

Maybe there’s hope for me, yet.IMG_5461How do you feel about accumulating stuff? Do you have any tricks to quell the urge to shop?

I use a “one in, one out” policy when it comes to my closet. I also came across a sensible plan for giving gifts to children: “One thing you want and one thing you need, one thing to wear and one thing to read.” If my son is already repeating everything I say — and I mean everything — then surely he’s watching me when it comes to materialism.

On that note, I won’t be posting a holiday gift guide this year, but here are a few, fun links to get you to Friday:

What is home? Photographers explore the idea.

Unique travel gifts for less than $20

How to have a Swiss Christmas? Drink glüwein

The best page-turners of 2018

Six reasons to travel instead of staying home for Christmas

 

Photos from Spain, Hungary and Italy

 

 

 

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There are California girls and there are Bakersfield girls. I am the latter.

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