My grandmother, my mom’s mom, was the best. It’s probably where my mom gets it. Fun. Always ready to go somewhere or do something or see someone. Always up for an adventure.
One summer I stayed at my granma’s house for a week. On one of the days, she took me to pick blackberries, but instead of making jam with it when we got back home, she taught me how to make blackberry wine. A crucial skill for every 12-year-old.
She was a cook at the elementary school, and she made homemade yeast rolls every single day for the children. When we visited, we would go to work with her, and she would always give me a piece of the dough and let me knead it, shape it, and cook it. Of course, I usually ate most of it raw so that wasn’t a big deal.
Granma was born in 1917. She was only 12 years old when the Great Depression began. They lived on a farm in rural South Carolina, and she told me one time that they were so poor that the Depression didn’t really bother them. It was pretty much life as usual. As a result, the family was frugal and thrifty as a necessity. They recycled way before it was the fashionable thing to do.
The Depression affected a lot of people. It made them economical and cautious, even when things were better. As a result of the Depression, people everywhere were influenced “to waste not want not.” This deprivation thinking continued in many cases to future generations even though they didn’t endure the hardships of that time. I agree with parts of the mindset, especially as our world gets pushed to the breaking point with depleting resources and accumulating pollution. We need to start conserving, reusing, and thinking of the impact we are making on the earth and the problems we are leaving behind for our children and their children.
In our family, we try to make sure we do our part. We shop at consignment stores when we can; we don’t use paper towels; we take our own bags to the grocery store, compost, and recycle. But sometimes we all get so bogged down with doing the conscientious thing that we make everyone around us miserable and everything dismal.
It shouldn’t be that way though. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Life isn’t a dress rehearsal.” I read Sarah Ban Breathnach, and she said this, “Unfortunately, many of us unconsciously act as if it were [a dress rehearsal]. Like an actress just going through the motions in order to conserve her creative energy and focus for opening night, we hold back.”
We don't use the good china, except for special occasions; we don’t wear a nice outfit for fear of getting it dirty; we save the bottle of special perfume or wine till it either goes bad or we die without ever enjoying it; we don’t throw a birthday party for ourselves or others because it takes too much energy.
One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies ever was from The Big Chill. In the movie, a group of college friends reunite one weekend for the funeral of one of the friends in their group.
At the wake, they are eating and drinking and reminiscing, and one of the characters says, “They throw a great party for you on the one day they know you can’t make it.“
So my vote is recycle, and do all the good you can, but still take the time to light the candles, use the good china, invite people over and throw a great party BEFORE the wake.