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You will be ever grateful to me for this post, readers.  Do. Not. Go. To. IKEA. On. A. Saturday.  At least not the one in the consumers’ mecca of Schaumburg, IL.  You’re welcome.

My husband has been traveling more for his job, which we are thankful for as it provides for things like food and heat for these Chicago winters.  This past week, he was traveling for three days and his return home was a bit dramatic as his originally scheduled flight was significantly delayed for some reason.  So he bought another ticket on another airline.  And realized that the new airline flies into the “other” Chicago airport.  His car was at O’Hare, the first airport. 

Not the type of people to get our proverbial panties in a bunch over things like this, I assured him we could make a day out of going to O’Hare to pick up his car.  The next day, Saturday, we traveled to pick up his car (minor delay as we had to make an emergency potty break in the corner of the parking garage because we were NOT going all the way into the terminal to find a bathroom – but that’s an entirely different story), and headed out to Schaumburg’s IKEA. 

Here’s the deal with this particular store.  Because of its location, (closest to the city and major highways), you get an abundance of people traveling there for cheap furniture and household wares.  An ABUNDANCE of people.  We saw many Wisconsin plates (made garishly obvious by their Green Bay Packers stickers all over their formerly nice looking vehicles -what?  Oh  yes, I went there) and of course, all of the “real city” folk travel there as well. 

Like most cities, Chicago has neighborhoods where a large majority of the community is of one particular culture.  You’ve got traditionally Polish, Jewish, Italian, Chinese, Irish….(etc.) neighborhoods where each culture is kept alive through foods, schools, language, and community festivals.  It’s fantastic really and it allows you to experience those cultures without the travel expense.  However, when you combine all of these cultures together into one store, that is HUGE, with small aisles and endless zig-zags of paths to the endless supply of pillows, candles, lamps, stools, couches, beds, mixing bowls, toys, plates, kitchens, tables, plants, chairs, and on and on and on…..well, it’s enough to drive one to read my previous post to remind oneself that all of this stuff is of no eternal value.  BUT I DIGRESS.  When you combine all these people in this setting where everyone is looking, but no one is looking where they are going, and certain cultures don’t necessarily value politeness but more “I WILL elbow you in the kidneys if you take that last Hjorbok (totally made that up, but you know the IKEA names and how Swedish they are) lady!”, well, friends, it makes for a stressful experience. 

To be sure, we did not go to IKEA to get stuff, but rather we were drawn to the fact that IKEA has free childcare/play area where you check your minions darlings in and you have one whole hour of child-free wandering.  Unfortunately due to the massive amounts of humanity, we had to wait to check our kids in so we were forced to wander with all three of them, fighting the crowds, wishing we knew more slavic languages in order to emphasize “please do not shove my child out of the way so you can get to the frames” request. 

Once we were able to check our kids in (just the older two, by the way.  No kids in diapers, which I totally understand), the hubs and I just blissfully made our way to the cafe and had some sparkling pear juice and bought some Swedish cookies for the kids.  Because when you go from three kids down to one, it’s a piece of cake.  Big kids are happy as clams playing upstairs, little kid is happy as a clam getting Mommy and Daddy all to himself for an hour.

But still.  If you feel the desire to patronize this gigantic Scandinavian establishment, do not go on a Saturday.  Or any weekend day I’m guessing.  Unless you ENJOY fighting through the masses for an inexpensive office chair.

I have been thinking lately about the “stuff” we accumulate as people, particularly we as North Americans, and may be changing the way I see all this “stuff”.  Thanks to a heady conversation with my rad hubby, we are both changing our perspectives.

You see, I have a nice house, a van for to tote my shorty brood about town, plenty of food, television, computers, a phone, plenty of clothes to wear and weather-appropriate accessories, furniture to sit upon, a bed to sleep in, etc, I could go on and on.  We have always been grateful for these things – this stuff – and have been sure to thank God for blessing us with these creature comforts.  But then that brings us to our renewed thinking.  Are these things blessings?  Or are they blockades?

Does our stuff get in the way of us truly appreciating the simple joys in life?  Are we so wrapped up in our stuff and acquiring more stuff that we are missing out on something truly amazing?  We love our stuff and it becomes easy for that to be what takes up most of our time and we may miss out on opportunities to be in relationships, to see when a friends needs us, to be present with our kids. 

I think this lifestyle that we are able to lead is not necessarily a blessing, but it is a challenge for us to sift through the stuff, to not let it block out an opportunity to receive God’s true blessings – relationships, love, and time with Him.  I’m not saying that having stuff is bad, but if we place too much importance on it, it will rule us. 

So I think that while I will still be grateful for all of my “stuff”, I will also realize that it holds the power to keep me from true joy.