The evening before Easter last year I went to the store to get some cold medicine. On my way out of Walgreens, I saw a lady loading two huge stuffed Easter bunnies into her SUV.
These things each had to be four feet tall, from the bottom of the feet to the tips of the ears. They were huge, they were fluffy, and it’s a good bet that her kids were going to enjoy the heck out of them.
I got into a conversation with the lady, because it was just weird seeing somebody doing Easter shopping at almost 9pm the night before. It turns out she hadn’t been paying very much attention to the calendar, realized it was the day before Easter, and figured she had to do something for her kids – hence the two giant Easter bunnies.
I get it, really. I know how that lady felt. I’ve forgotten things until the last minute before. When I was a teenager I woke up at like 4 am on Christmas, realized that nobody had put the presents from “Santa” out, and woke up my parents to let them know. My parents and I were putting Christmas presents out at 5 am so my younger brother didn’t miss his “Santa” gifts.
And there’s nothing wrong with buying a kid a giant stuffed rabbit. Sometimes a little stuff can make somebody very happy. As I said, I’m sure the kids were going to enjoy them.
But the danger is when we fall into the trap of using our money, for the purpose of buying stuff, because we haven’t been intentional about our priorities.
If somebody has kids, they’re probably going to do something for Easter. Easter is a scheduled event. It’s a little more complicated than Christmas because the date moves, but we know it’s going to be in March or April – and Google will tell us when it will be a decade in advance.
And because it’s scheduled, it can be planned for.
What if, instead of getting blindsided at 8:30 pm the night before, the lady had set a calendar reminder on March 1st – “buy Easter baskets and candy”. Or “check out community Easter activities”. Or whatever else. That would give her around a month to think about it. And if she’s forgetful, she could set another reminder for March 14th – “Easter. Whatcha doin’?”
The point of advance thinking in a situation like this isn’t just to prevent the late-night run to Walgreens, although it will. It’s that advance thinking allows intentionality of action. Rather than just grabbing $50 stuffed rabbits because “I have to do something!”, advance thinking lets us consider what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
And that’s one of the keys to keeping junk out of our homes, and our lives under control.
Upon having time to reflect, rather than $100 worth of stuffed animals, you might decide that a nice Easter basket with some candy, maybe some coins hidden in plastic Easter eggs around the house, and a day at the park might be more in line with your values. Or heck, you might decide that $100 worth of stuffed animals is exactly what you want to get your kids for Easter.
But the key is to plan, not react.
As a side note, if you haven’t figured out your plans yet, you still have almost a week until this Easter. Maybe today would be a good day to stop and think it through!