Lighter Than Air

Day 307

Last week, I passed a mom leaving the commissary dragging her two small children. One child was gleefully bobbing a balloon tied to his wrist up and down.  The other, grief stricken, was crying inconsolably and had gone all boneless.  I glanced at their very tired looking mother and said, “She lost her balloon, didn’t she?”

In response, the mother merely pointed skyward at a pink orb drifting to the heavens, which set off a fresh wave of wailing below her.

What parent can’t relate to this scene?   Balloons can cause great joy and great sorrow, sometimes within the same 30 second period.

Three truths I know about balloons

  1. They are fragile and will pop– sometimes by merely looking at them pointedly
  2. Even without a puncture, they don’t last long– a balloon animal is considered geriatric if it lasts 21 hours.
  3. They have a tendency to escape—balloons gotta be free.

In the past I have tried to use balloons as some sort of life’s lesson for my kids.  I try to prep them for the inevitable and try to point out the joy in the moment.   I will tell you that no matter how many times I say, “the balloon won’t last until tomorrow, lets enjoy it while we can” there is still a small amount of residual heartache when they wake up and “Ellie” the pink balloon elephant has withered to a flaccid handful of latex.

So, I’m going to let you in on my selfish secret.   The Simple Year has mostly provided me with a welcome relief from the balloon circle of life because I don’t buy them.  The kids don’t even ask any more. Can I get a whoop whoop?

Although there has till been the occasional FREE balloons and balloon animals, like these made for them at a Christmas brunch.


This clown had skills

This clown had skills

These exceptional specimens had to be hand carried home on an airplane and grudgingly  lovingly had space made for them in the overhead bin.  Rudolph lost his right front leg and the palm tree lost a frond upon decent, but they actually made it home mostly intact for the rest of their 24-hour life cycle.

Proving definitively in my children’s mind that mom doesn’t know anything.

Back to the woman with the crying child; I asked her in a series of surreptitious mother-to-mother hand gestures and whispers if she wanted me to go back in and get a replacement balloon.  Mom said, no, she had asked her to tie it on her wrist and she refused.  I nodded my understanding and walked away.  The whole time, I was considering the likelihood that I’ll be able to continue the moratorium on balloon buying past The Simple Year.

6 Responses to Lighter Than Air

  1. I love your blog. I’m not a big commenter (here or on any blogs) but I just wanted to give a shout out. I’ve been doing a less-rigorous (if my car needed a new part I probably wouldn’t think a third time about it – twice maybe) version of no buy anything new. For me, a woman in long term relationship (7 years) and an aunt to six (his and mine combined) – my big thing has been trying to stay away from new clothing purchases. I seemed to go crazy the last couple of years at the outlet mall and have built a more than substantial wardrobe where I really don’t need anything to round it out (“need” even by American standards). So, I’ve taken to the thrift clothing stores so far this year. I’ve had some GREAT finds – Armani blazer for $4?!?! I also am hoping to add more variety to my wardrobe. I can only buy so many things from Ann Taylor loft without feeling like I’m a) bored because everything is fairly plain b) like I have the same outfit every other professional mid 20’s-30’s has. I don’t need anything crazy but a little more funk and statement items would make me feel less like a stamped output from some Asian factory (not to mention the human impact of the “great deals”).

    So anyway, I’ve lost almost all the weirdness about buying used gifts for all the nieces and nephews (we try to buy really nice indestructible wooden vs. plastics anyway) but I am still able to feel a bit outside of my element with my very suburban sister and financial adviser brother in law 🙂 who, in their defense are “into” used even if they want to immediately sanitize everything bring. My boyfriend’s family grew up more rural poor so they tend to either pretend they don’t notice or genuinely don’t. Overall, our goal is to decrease consumerism, aka gimme gimme gimme culture with both sides as much as our influence as aunt and uncle is able.

    This year we still ended up spending 2k on Christmas gifts for everyone but 50% of that was from homemade gifts (liquor infusions anyone :)) and of the remaining 50%, 40% of it was probably used.

    I’ve totally uncharacteristically rambled on way too long, I just wanted to share our experience in attempting a similar, if a bit less restricted (and much less difficult – again, no kids). Also, when I stupidly decided to wander the isles of Target yesterday and had an urge to buy – anything and everything I didn’t need – I thought of you and your family and how you’ve managed to make it this far. We’ve only been going “formally” since our 2013 NY resolution so I’m sure I’ll have many more chances to summon your inspired strength in the months to come.

    Who knows, I may take things a step further and see if we can accomplish the rebuilding of our 1969 46′ Chris Craft Aquahome with as many re purposed materials as possible. We started that last year and are hoping to live in it this Summer. Something I hadn’t actually considered with much seriousness since the name of the game is speed – we shall see :).

    Thanks again for the continued inspiration! oh, and ps, if you need inspiration every now and then, I saw this video the other day and it’s working for me 🙁 –

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