La Vie en France #26: Stuff



Happy Thanksgiving 2017 readers!  In a few hours the Black Friday sales start and Americans begin their tradition of collecting more stuff to place in already over-crowded houses.  Sound familiar?


Living in another culture helps one to better understand the plusses and minuses of one’s own culture.  During his six months in France the Webmaster noticed that Europeans tend to have less “stuff” than their American counterparts; whether looking at clothing, dishes and china, collections, etc.  In general, they seem to be less influenced by advertising, less prone to shopping, and less likely to try to keep up with the Joneses.  Perhaps one reason for this is because the houses and cars are smaller, on average.  A second reason could be that advertising is generally less pervasive in Europe; although appears to be changing.  A third reason could be that Europeans tend to favor life experiences over items.  The Republicans in the crowd might suggest a fourth reason:  That it is tied to a lower take-hope pay due to higher taxes to fund a more socialized economy.  In truth, there are likely multiple cultural factors that are responsible for these differences.


The Webmaster’s “stuff” was artificially limited during his six months in France because of the high cost of extra baggage on the airlines and the high cost of shipping items overseas.  As a result, he lived overseas for six months with just six pairs of pants:  Two dress pants, two jeans and two cargo pants.  He also lived overseas with about eight shirts:  Some long-sleeved, some tee-shirts, some dressy, most casual.  (He did bring a blue blazer for fancy occasions.)  When he returned home on 15 November, he was shocked at the amount of clothes in his U.S. closet; because he certainly did not feel inadequately clothed in France.  His closet included a number of items that he had not worn in years; but that he was holding onto for sentimental reasons.  It also included less favorite items that he had not worn in a few years.  Yesterday, several of those items were donated to a clothing drop off box!


What does “stuff” have to do with visiting the WW1 battlefields?  Looking honestly, how many readers say they can’t afford to do a battlefield visit; but they are paying monthly for a storage locker to hold stuff they can’t bear to part with?  How many Americans have collections of guns, uniforms, etc. where they could sell a few items to afford that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe?  There are a lot of reasons one chooses not to travel to Europe; but excessive spending on material items should not be one of them!  The Webmaster hopes to see many Americans in Europe in 2018–the Centennial of America’s military effort!!