We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time. ~T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

03 December 2006

Tis the season

The gift giving season is upon us once again, and although this is my favourite time of year, I also naturally reflect on the past year. "There is enough in this world for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed"-- (I think it was Gandhi that said that) This is going to be a lean Christmas for us, but the kids will still enjoy it, in fact, I will still enjoy it. Perhaps though, lean is not the right way to describe it. Yes, we have less money than we have had in past years, but we are living within our means. I do not believe in going into debt to buy ridiculously expensive gifts, or overloading the kids with more presents than they need or can handle.

I have been frustrated many times this year at our lack of money, but really do feel it is a time of learning for me..and ultimately its something I asked for. I asked for a simple life and the truth of that is, the less money you have, the less you spend (ideally), and the less debt you have. Less is More! I'm learning to be frugal, content, grateful and to think carefully about my choices. As a parent, I think about my own upbringing.

My mother grew up during WW II and was of the mind that "if you don't have the money for it, you don't need it." Since she was divorced and raising me on her own, much of what she did was out of necessity. Here was a woman who dropped out of school at age 14 to run the household when her mother died, paid her own mortgage off in 25 years through sheer grit, and didn't own a credit card until she was 52. Her older brother also never owned a credit card in his life, nor a checkbook. The term 'stolen identity' didn't exist in their world. So even though I've had these influences, I obtained my first credit card when I was 21. Since then I've had about 8, not all at once though, and now I only use my bank card.

I've learned how to earn a living, support myself, eat healthy, etc. and will pass these skills to my children, but now I'm thinking more about skillful living, frugality, and simplicity which I hope, as my mother did, I can master willingly and help my children to understand. There's real freedom in living without indulgence in the debt and despair culture that seems to be taking over the western world. It is an alluring world though, samsara, and it will take alot of determination to carry on in this way.

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