My great-grandmother raised her kids during the depression. She was NEVER one to spend money where it didn’t need to be spent. Hilda Rice not only knew the value of a dollar, but how much every single penny of that dollar would buy you in 1931. She was very alarmed that we had a jar of pennies in full view of our living room window in my childhood home. Someone was going to break in and take it!
For great-grandma, there was no shame in not having the nicest dress or the biggest house. She wouldn’t judge you on the amount of money you made or how worn your clothes were. Rough hands were a badge of honor and she knew hard work, but if you, your home or your yard were dirty, all bets were off.
I will never forget her saying “soap doesn’t cost that much.” Apathy was a crime and not having respect for yourself to the point of being slovenly was a sin.
Second on her list of commandments was “Thou shall not waste.” Seriously, waste nothing. What do you mean throw away the wrapping paper this gift came in? It’s perfectly good! Why put leftovers in the fridge and warm up it up and waste energy to cool it back down if you’re just going to eat those leftovers in the next two days. Yes…yes, this is all true.
Not many people today can tell you first-hand how hard it was during the dirty thirties, but for some of us, the legacy of what they went through lives on.
Currently I do not have a good spot to compost my organic waste and every single time I throw away a banana peel, coffee grounds or egg shells I can feel the pursed lips of my grandma and great-grandma as they survey the waste I have made out of perfectly good composting material. I can sense their raised eyebrows whenever I purchase something to become more “green”. I have a feeling they are saying “Honey, we were green before it was the fashion.” They’re hipsters, I guess.
I have been trying to channel my grandparents as I raise my children. I am very aware that my boys want for nothing. They have yet to reach the age where the want what they don’t have and I know it’s the nature of kids, but I hope I will handle those situations well when they come. I love seeing my children happy and they are really good boys. Forcing them to experience and live with disappointment is going to be one of those parenting phases that will be harder on me than it is on them. That shit better be worth it. If they still end up being creeps, I just don’t know what I’ll do.
First, I need to lead by example. I have been doing some part by cooking meals, growing food (oh, let’s me honest, my mother does all of the growing of food), making my own cleaning products and working hard to keep up a tidy home. I am in constant fear that my house smells like onions, cats or toddler pee. I scrub and spray until we are all choking on vinegar fumes to try and combat any odor, which is probably imaginary if I must be honest.
I am pretty pleased with myself on the homemade cleaning products front, but I am not much of a DIYer by nature. The fact that I have a limited ability is what probably saves me from being a Pinterest Snob. Well, that and the fact that I just don’t think that every fucking thing needs to be made out of old wooden pallets and burlap. Fuck.
Here’s a good picture of great-grandma Rice telling me about the depression. Based on the look on my high school face, she might be telling me about using Sears Roebuck catalogs as toilet paper.