Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Gratitude Project - Day 16

Today I was reading a post on Domestic Fashionista on "stuff" where she mentions being a compulsive thrifter. It got me to thinking. I like to go thrifting. Heck, one of my entries for this year's Gratitude Project was about being thankful for other people's old stuff! I have a lot of stuff. I love my stuff. I am attached to it and it makes me happy. I get very upset when something bad happens to my stuff. Does this make me materialistic? Probably, but I'm okay with that, and I'll tell you why.

When I was a kid, we were poor. I mean, really, really, live in one room, no Christmas on many occasions, get boxes of government food poor. My mom didn't always work, so welfare checks and food stamps were an every day part of life for us, as it was for many of our friends and neighbors. She was also not the best at choosing partners so she had a lot of bad relationships. On more than one occasion we came home to an apartment that was either completely trashed (like the sofa slashed, fish tank shattered, everything you could break, rip, or destroy broken, ripped, and destroyed in a very thorough and methodical manner) or even worse, just GONE. Clothes, furniture, everything, GONE. We literally would have just the clothes on our backs.

You think junior high was rough for you? I had five shirts, three pairs of pants, and one pair of shoes when I was in the eighth grade. My mom had bought me this tee shirt that said "Thank Goodness It's Friday" because she thought it was cute because it had bunnies on it. Obviously I couldn't wear it on any day other than Friday, so unless I wanted to re-wear a dirty shirt from earlier in the week, I wore that shirt every Friday for about three months. It was only a matter of time before the other girls caught on and began to mock me about it.

Therefore, I don't have any hand me downs from previous generations. There simply aren't any. No photos, no jewelry, no furniture. Nothing. We didn't have nice things, because everything had to be disposable. I mean, you never knew when you'd have to pack up in the middle of the night to sneak away from an abusive husband. That happened a few times too, and each time we were only allowed to take a few plastic grocery bags of things with us. It makes me sad that I don't have any of these things. I'm jealous of my husband when his dad sends him something that he found from when he was a kid, that he not only had someone who put that sort of thought into him maybe wanting that stuff in the future, but that his childhood was stable enough for it to have survived.

So yeah, I have stuff. Lots of stuff. I fill my home with pretty things to make up for the bare single room apartments that I shared with three or four other people and all the things that got broken, thrown away, or left behind. I collect things from the past that make me smile to make up for the heirlooms I will never get from a grandmother or some other long lost relative. I scrapbook and take photos so that my children will have some idea of what I was like before they were around, because I know I would LOVE to have a box of old family photos of my own. I have a room full of art supplies simply because I can. I don't have to worry that the money I spent will be wasted when I have to move and leave it all behind because all our belongings have to fit in one car. I don't have to be afraid that I will come home one day and someone will have thrown it all away out of anger and spite. I have it because it makes me happy, because I love to make things and because I love knowing that I can go in there and have the materials for almost any craft project at my fingertips, depending on my mood that day.

I know that kinda makes me sound like a hoarder, but I assure you, I do a good job of keeping things from getting too cluttered and purging on a regular basis. So what if I buy something to only use for a season? If it makes me happy for that season, it's money well spent before it can go on to bless another person. :) I think of those items sort of as rentals. They served a purpose, and then they can move on. Since I probably did buy them cheap, as I am pretty frugal for the most part, it's usually not a huge loss.

I'm also good at having a decent idea of what items I will get around to using again in another season. I may not use my cake decorating stuff often, but can I tell you how nice it is to have it there when I need it? Just last week I had a friend call and ask if I could teach her and her mom how to decorate Christmas cookies. I was able to pull together a VERY comprehensive two and a half hour lesson and the only thing I had to go out and buy was a bag of powdered sugar and a couple of bottles of gel color to replace some that had dried out.

So, today I am thankful for several things. I guess I'm thankful for my stuff. I am also thankful that I can have stuff, as that always hasn't been the case. I'm thankful that even though I do like stuff, I also have the ability to edit and organize it so my house isn't terribly cluttered. Mostly though, I'm thankful that even though bad things have happened to me in my life, they haven't completely ruined or broken me, but rather have helped to mold me into the person I am today. I'm also thankful for the perspective those events give, because I know no matter how bad things are now, they aren't even close to how bad things were then.



Blogger kellybelly said...

I love the idea of the gratitude project and especially love this post.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Katy Cameron said...

Perspective and the ability to create a good future for your kids can never be a bad thing

9:33 AM  

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