If you read the above title, you would think that this is about reusing and recycling our day-to-day items; well, that would be partially correct. There are a lot of us out here who diligently repurpose our belongings, so that we can save money, time, sanity or stretch the life cycle of the things we buy. Why? Because we want to feel like we are “good” consumers. What we don’t sometime challenge ourselves to do in the quest of consumerism is think of how it can change us for the better and make us more caring and empathetic towards each other.
When we are young adults, most of us learn to balance our checkbooks; we learn rudimentary book keeping skills. But in the middle of those rudimentary moments, occasionally we realize that these skills do carry over to other areas of our lives. For example, my grandmothers used to talk sentimentally of their years as younger adults and how wonderful it was that neighbors helped each other out, especially during the Depression Era. Home made soups, hand-me-downs, and garden surpluses were shared with love for those around them who were in true need. It was more than just basic good deeds; it involved math. As times grew tougher, creativity needed to stretch to new depths to meet the demands of a sinking economy. The necessity of learning to budget in these ways in the simplest of terms was translated by my Nan as, “It builds character, gal.” Those math skills were tested time and time again over those desperate years. Trial and error does prove to build character.
Character then translated to me as values, not only just skills. Things I learned that also built character were the value of working for your money and not being handed something for nothing. When applied, I learned a sense of accomplishment and ownership; something I now try to pass on to my sons. Learning to savor the moments of wanting something by not giving in to immediate gratification is another wonderful character trait. At times it’s a sweet anticipation and at others it’s agony. Price comparison and waiting for deals have helped me better negotiate situations as an adult. This breeds generosity, which equals even more character.
As I travel over the years, my world has expanded and it’s been a blessing to have been able to see beyond my family’s needs and myself and realize others were sometimes in much greater want. To say I felt wealthy at times, even if it was only a few dollars saved for a rainy day, is an understatement. I have come to find out, a sense of security is worth more than a momentary impulse to buy something that really is unnecessary. Another lesson learned has been discipline. That skill has carried over to so many other areas that there’s too many to list. Last but certainly not least; I’ve learned to give. As life has taken funny twists and turns, I quickly realized that God has provided for me no matter what and that it’s okay to let things go. You can never out give God. His love in any shape or form is always returned tenfold.
So, it is an often-quick review of all these things that make me continually miss my grandmothers (Nans). But I can say one thing is for sure - if they had not taught our families the important lessons of reusing, repurposing and recycling, maybe there would be little character in our family. Lord knows there is certainly plenty of that! And those lessons would not be getting anyone’s money’s worth!