Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Start Hoarding Now

Maybe you have a head start.

Maybe your cupboards are alphabetized and then further arranged by expiration date, oldest in front. Maybe your kids' shoes are purchased for the next five sizes (to last approximately five months?). And maybe, just maybe, you saw this financial crisis coming and didn't go on vacation over the summer, choosing wisely to put the money allocated for that spree instead into a margarine tub in the deep freeze.

One time my grandma had a jar full of Susan B. Anthony dollars buried in the garden. When her handyman tilled it up, he unknowingly shattered the jar and spread her money all throughout the garden's 18-inch-deep furrows. My grandma, the consummate Frugal Frederique, dug until well after dark seeking her coins. Later, many summers later, we started pulling carrots and beets with dollars in them.

And then another time I had purchased a 1930s overstuffed club chair for $10 and hauled it home to my college digs. My roommate Margaret and I decided that the fabric was scratchy and she knew a little about upholstery. There was a funny patch on the back of the chair so she also weighed in to say that it was common for people to hide money in their upholstery. (Why did I believe her? She was a history major.) Anyway we tore the offending fabric off and stapled on 10 yards of awful peach-and-green polished cotton from the dollar bin at the upholstery store. There was no money hidden in there. Then, when we were throwing the original fabric away, our antique dealer neighbor commented to say that it was mohair and reportedly was worth close to $100 a yard.

When my grandfather died, it fell to my mother to clean out his closets. Like many of his generation, the "Great Generation," he had a compulsion to save everything. Not only did he never throw anything out, but it was all squirreled away in tidy compartments. And he had multiples of most everything. The shoes he wore everyday were as worn as you can imagine, very "down at the heel." There were four pairs exactly like them in his closet, new in their boxes, just as they had been for maybe seven years. He washed sheets every Saturday, waiting until they line dried to make the bed again. There were 10 sets of sheets in their packages in the linen cupboard. I think this is the definition of hoarding, and I understand it is common among people who have lived with very little and are afraid to be without.

Maybe you're saving your dollars and maybe your menus are planned for three months of pantry meals. Maybe you're appreciating the value of your old things and resisting the pull of the Pottery Barn. Or, maybe, like the media say most Americans are, you're living paycheck to paycheck.

Maybe you're somewhere in between.

I have a stocked pantry. I shop about once a month for "big" groceries, stopping otherwise only for milk and bread and produce that the garden doesn't provide. I don't literally advocate hoarding, since that has a connotation of having more than one needs (and keeping it at the expense of others who aren't able to then procure it). But I am thinking a lot about the Great Generation and what they went through, how they managed. How it shaped them and their friendships. They must have relied quite a bit on one another. That part sounds good.


Misty said...

i think a lot about that too. I grew up with my grandmother rewashing bread bags and always telling stories about living through the GD.

I am a bit fearful as we head through this time, but trying to rely on God. We are certainly paycheck to paycheck... We didn't used to be, but all that remains of that life is a $7,000 leather sectional we never should have bought...

I do still drool over the Pottery Barn catalog though, but less in a "I want this" and more in a "hey, how could I do THIS in my home, with little to know money?"

Katie said...

Got the hoarding thing down! LOL!

And no! You can't have The Chair! :)

HonuGirl said...

No hoarding going on here ... just working hard to rid myself of unnecessary things from 17+ years of 'too much stuff'.

I enjoy donating to a local thrift store; in return (w/my tax receipt) I get a 20% off coupon. =)

My friends tell me I'm the only girl they know who uses coupons at a thrift store. whaat?

OK, i admit; it's weird -- but I am 'recycling' at a discount, things that others decided not to hoarde, right?!!

tee hee. Enjoyed the stroll through history, Miriam!

Barb said...

Personally, I am logging as much time as I can on the Internet. Just in case.