My husband’s parents never lived in a home with more than three bedrooms and one bathroom in their 50 years of marriage. That may not sound unusual until you know that they were the parents of 14 children, including 12 sons. Mom and Dad got one bedroom and the two girls got another. That left one last bedroom for up to nine brothers, the peak number at home before they grew up and began moving away.
My husband is number ten in the pecking order. To this day, he loves getting new socks and underwear, even before the old ones have worn out, because they were only a dream when he was growing up. He never started the school year with new clothes or even new crayons. Leftovers after meals were a novelty when we got married. He is emphatic about purchases being “even” in our family: if one kid gets something, the others get something, even if they don’t need whatever it is.
When I think about how my husband’s family grew up, I’m reminded how spoiled many of us, including my own kids, are today. We practice frugality in many things, but I know the lesson isn’t fully taking hold. My kids know to order water at restaurants, because what costs $2 there is only 20 cents at home. We only buy clothing when it’s on sale. But they know these are only token acts simply by looking at our home, our cars, our vacations. We tell them stories of our childhood, in vain. Yet maybe they are listening more than we think, or maybe they are wiser sooner than us. Our oldest is not pursuing money and things, only peace. He wants even less than 3 BR, 1 BA. I find myself, for the first time, wishing for less for my children…only peace.
“You may get an emotional thrill when you buy something, but emotions are fickle. You buy that one thing you think will complete your happiness, but after awhile the feeling goes away and you have to go to the next thing. You just keep going from purchase to purchase looking for the one thing that will finally satisfy. But stuff can’t satisfy.” –Joyce Meyer