Sunday, June 24, 2012
Frugality, Abundance, Kindness
A saying from an old decorative iron trivet that belonged to my family comes to mind...and it seems appropriate as I find myself using all the bits from the fridge, making sure those lemons get used up in time, storing bulk herbs, stretching milk for multiple uses...
I'm sure you've heard it. It's as true today as it was back then, and I think it was just part of everyday life for most generations prior to my own:
Use it up
Wear it out
My friend, Miss J, who just turned 87, said her own mother repeated this phrase often, as newly-widowed she raised 7 children in the Great Depression. She also worked full time outside the home at half a man's factory wage, grew an acre garden and canned it all, loved growing flowers, and baked 90 rolls and 7 loaves of bread TWICE a week for her family...which included most of the neighborhood kids, who loved her cooking and showed up at dinnertime. Those dinner rolls and bread required her getting up in the middle of the night (worknights!) to punch down the dough for the second rising. And all the clothes were carried outdoors and hung on the clothesline to dry, even in the freezing winters when they froze and slapped in the wind.
Listening to my friend's conversations about her mother has sketched a gentle portrait of someone I've never met, but admire. I'm learning from her life. She was highly intelligent and had a sharp wit, was a genius with puns, and was kind to a fault. She lost her husband to a freak accident when a truck at his worksite backed up and dumped a full load of shale without knowing he was under it. Her eldest daughter died of an unnecessary complication while in the hospital for an unrelated condition, and her second eldest daughter died at 25 in a car accident. So much loss, but so much grace from this beloved mother...she kept going on and she kept believing God was good -- kept working hard and making a home, a family, with a lot less than most people today have. And with humor, strength, and humility.
I could do with this perspective of frugality and this kind of love...the kind that fills days with an appreciation for the good there is in the simple things, and in keeping what's most important at the forefront of my daily reality.
Making much of little and lacking nothing, most of all being rich in gratitude.
Oh...and my friend never once, not even once, heard her mother gossip or talk ill of anyone else. EVER.
Nor did I ever hear that from my own Grandma in all the years I knew her.
And so I take to heart these wise women and their older, wiser, ways. May my economizing in these days not be crabbed and shriveled with cares, but may it make way for the things that really count, mostly measured in the practice of kindness and ingenuity and creating a space that reflects love for those who are important to me. And maybe includes now and then some really good homemade rolls...