When I was in elementary school, my father lost his job. It was in the early 80's... I don't even know the year, to tell you the truth. I was aware that my dad wasn't working at Mighty Big Accounting Firm anymore and that we were going to need to be thrifty. In the time that followed, I can't tell you one thing I missed while our family was being thrifty. I can't tell you one toy I wanted but didn't get, I can't tell you one outing that we thrifted on, I can't tell you one single material item that screamed WE ARE ON A LIMITED BUDGET. I applaud Winston and mom for their candor with us kids. They let us in on the family project. And I'm amazed how well they kept it together mentally and emotionally. I never saw either one of them cry, curse, or get mad about things. I never witnessed stress, though I know - both from the obvious OH MY GOODNESS WHAT WOULD WE DO IF WE WERE IN THAT SITUATION and from conversations I've had with both of my parents about that time - that there certainly WAS a great deal of stress. And tension. And worry. But somehow, someway, they were strong. Strong enough for themselves, and certainly strong enough for our family.
This is the kind of strength I want to have for myself, and for my little family. For Alice. For Chip. For whatever babies might be on our horizon one day.
We are FINE HERE, so don't go thinking that either Chip or I are jobless. We are incredibly fortunate. We have exactly what we need. But we know, we know that a time is coming when we are going to need to make do with less. Less stuff. Less creature comforts. Less clutter. Less. This time of knowing may not come in the form of a lost job like it did with my dad. It might come because we need to help out someone else in our family, it might come because of natural disaster, it might come because of health issues. We don't know how it will come, but it will come.
My phone rang on Friday morning while Chip, Alice, and I were walking the streets of beautiful Friday Harbor on San Juan Island (pictures coming). It was Winston, and he wanted to talk about conservation. He and mom had been discussing the times we're living in, and what's going on with the economy, and they felt it was important to remind their family about thrift. About making do with less. I'm so glad they let us in on the family project.
I don't remember anything that was missing from that time of joblessness because (and here's the thing to remember) as a child, I didn't know any different. We made do with what we had, and I was happy. Happy! Can you imagine? I was happy to not wear new clothes. Happy to not have the latest video game. Happy to not have a cell phone. I think we can do the same: teach our children, our neighbors, our friends, that it's possible to smile and laugh and live a really beautiful life full of purpose without HAVING to HAVE.
So now I'm letting YOU in on the family project. I have some ideas about it, ways we can live on less. Ways we can have fun while doing it. And I want to hear your ideas. Tomorrow will be my first post - I'll do a weekly message and I hope you decide to join in our mission. Email me at whimsyattack AT gmail DOT com with your ideas for thrift. Ways you cut down, ways you make something last longer, ways you are living conservatively.
Come on, it'll be fun.