Monday, May 21, 2012

Making Do or Going Without

One of my brothers and I were recently counting our blessings for growing up in the family we have. One of the wonderful gifts from our parents is knowing the value of work and of "making do." We had hand-me-downs and thrift store clothes. We ate leftovers and bought things in bulk. For vacation, we traveled to see family, rarely staying in hotels or visiting theme parks.

None of this was considered a hardship.

It's the difference between making do and going without. We made do with what we had, finding inexpensive solutions to problems that arose. We never felt as if we were being deprived of what we deserved because our parents never talked that way. Rather than apologizing to us for not providing a hotel with a pool (which was a real treat when it happened!), they would talk about how fun it would be to stay with Uncle Rich and what he might be growing in his garden this summer.

We make do by lowering our utility bills.
(Can you tell which one Peter hung?)

When I was in high school or college, I asked my mom why we never packed picnic lunches anymore when we drove to the Midwest. When we were little, we always did. We'd stop at a picnic area and my brothers and I could run as much as we wanted while Mom put our sandwiches together and got out the fruit. As we got older, we stopped bringing lunch and began eating fast food. When I asked my mom, she laughed. "Liana, we didn't bring picnic lunches as a treat. We brought them because we couldn't afford to eat at McDonald's." Oh. Well, I thought it was a treat. That's how it was presented.

Frugality and a good work ethic are important. I hope to pass along these values to Peter. But more than wise money management, I want him to understand how wealthy we are. I want him to see life as not "good enough" but good. You only feel you are going without if you initially feel entitled. Our family? We're making do.

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