We've been hit hard this month as less income collided with having to pay for a house repair and a car repair (the car is still in the shop). When I stopped by Target yesterday for milk, eggs, butter, and coffee (trying out a really inexpensive coffee), I looked at the boxes of tea on the aisle and could not believe my eyes! My favorite tea was 25% higher than it was just last month. Yikes! This is getting serious.
I was thinking of the economic situation as I dropped both my husband and son off at the bookstore this morning (both work on Saturdays when there is a football game). When I was growing up, there were still many people around who had lived through The Great Depression. Both my parents and my in-laws went through the Depression... all were old enough to know the reality of the experience. I was always fascinated by the stories they told and one thing they often had in common, so often they viewed that time as both extreme hardship and blessing.
My thoughts were distracted for awhile by the beauty around me. I smiled as I passed vehicles of all sizes and shapes in the oncoming lanes with the team's colors and the university's emblem displayed in all their glory. Thousands of people descending on one destination... the football stadium. With the temperatures in the 40s and rising, a blue sky, a cool breeze, and Canadian geese flying in formation over head... this was October at its' best... and as I neared home, the sun was resting on thousands of stalks of corn that was itself golden and ready for harvest.
I thought about how easy it would be to spend time mulling over the things we do not have the money to do. What a difference our attitude would be if we were bitter because we could not afford a decked out van, tailgating in the pricey parking lot, and tickets to see the game in person. We would be drawing within our own little world, darkened by bitterness and worry, not seeing what is available for free... our surroundings on a gorgeous autumn day.
Perhaps the story I heard over and over from those who lived through economic hardship early in the past century was the realization (as they grew older) that keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table were much harder than they remembered. For their parents, for the most part, celebrated what they did have as opposed to what they did not. Those were the people who held on to fond memories of family and friendships, communities coming together, people with little sharing with families who had nothing... answered prayers.
I was still pondering it when I arrived home to set the breakfast dishes soaking and prepare a new lentil recipe in the Crock Pot. I was thinking of how the economy is affecting our family today and the realization came that Recessions (and Depressions) force simplicity on people, whether they like it or not. How much better to embrace a simpler life rather than yearn for the days when purchasing required little thought or creativity.
Recessions and inflation cause our options to shrink. We can't afford everything at the grocery store so we stick with the simple, basic foods... choosing the most nutrition for the least amount of money. We keep the exotic or expensive ingredients for a special celebration, perhaps purchased on sale and tucked in the freezer to surprise the family on a special day.
Gift giving is whittled down to one or two toys and needed clothing for the children. We stop giving expensive gifts to adult family and friends, instead we package homemade items created in our kitchen, knitted while watching TV, sewn after the kids go to bed, or thought up while taking a walk. Or give coupons for babysitting, mowing lawns, shoveling snow, a meal when needed... that which cost us nothing or little.
We think about what we can sacrifice further to make ends meet. The mall becomes a place we visit only when we can't find the perfect size at Goodwill or the second hand shop. We learn to shop in these places first before heading out to the dozens of look alike stores under one roof.
We talk about about wanting to live a simpler life but then complain when many of our options in this day and age are removed. It isn't easy, changing isn't much fun, but perhaps a recession can have the same affect as the stories I grew up on... simplifying our lives in the long run... and bringing people together. Maybe... hopefully.
Living Simply Saturdays are hosted by the Keeper of the Home blog, where you can find a list of participating blogs (or join in on the fun!).