Rewards Are Just So Nice

If I have heard it a hundred times, I have said it two hundred: Poor people have poor ways.  I am not talking about destitute; that is a whole different animal.  Their ways are unique and sad and so very difficult, and I could use a thousand adjectives.  My mother grew up in the Great Depression, so I have heard stories of destitution.  If you have never read Grapes of Wrath, get a box of tissue and get the book.  I still cry when I think of that book.  I cry when I think of people who are destitute.  And I cry as I am spurred to do something tangible for these people.

Pictures of the Great Depression:

Pictures of current situations:

But this blog today is about poor.  About the perception of poor.  About really being poor.  And I have to confess, I really don’t know.  Not personally.  What I know is only because my mother was poor at one point in her life.  But that point in her life made a dramatic impression for all of her life, and she passed those impressions down to her children.Grandma Madeline and Mom 1925

That is Mom around 1925, maybe a year or two later.  She was born in 1920 and doesn’t look too old here.  Although the official date of the Great Depression is 1929, Mom’s family was already poor.  The ensuing years were to bring even harder times.  And those times are why she and her sisters and so many others who went through these poor times did so many of the very frugal things they did long after they were established in nice homes with good incomes and money in the bank: saving and reusing the wax paper from cereal boxes; only running enough water for the task; making their own clothes; growing big gardens and canning; hanging clothes on a clothesline with a clothes dryer sitting in the utility room.  That’s just a few.

And the older Mom got, the more she worried about having enough money to be able to take care of herself, so she wouldn’t turn on the lights till she absolutely had to and kept the heat down low and the air conditioner blowing warm air.  She would sit in her thin gown with her leg thrown over the chair arm in the 90+ heat while we who were taking care of her tried to cook and clean.  We finally rebelled and made her wear clothes as we turned the AC to a cooler setting.  Water was used sparingly.  Fans and air conditioners were turned off at night.  Food was bought on an as-needed basis with very little kept in the cabinets or the freezer.

And she would say “Poor people have poor ways.”  So even though I am not rich, neither am I poor although my upbringing has trained me to think that I am.

Which is why I love reward cards.  Which is why I shop where I get a little extra for my money (I love getting that 10 cents to a dollar off my gas at Kroger).  Which is why I use coupons.  Which is why I love Shutterfly (I have gotten so many cool free items from there).  Which is why I bring my loyalty card to be punched at CurleQ when I get hair cuts or buy merchandise.

No, I don’t need to use coupons or the reward cards.  But it is nice to be rewarded for my spending money at a certain place of business or being loyal to a certain business.  Even though I realize and understand those businesses are keeping close track of everything I purchase with that reward card, I don’t mind.

They just send me more appropriate coupons.

The Family That Works Together, Aches Together

Yesterday I wrote about falling in the pool and bruising myself and practically tearing my arm from the socket.  My sister wrote a reply about how we are a family that works; that’s just what we do.  It really doesn’t occur to us to ask for help, and generally we just pick up our shovels and dig in, whatever it may be.  I’ve hung drywall (ceiling and walls), dug a French drain around the garage, helped wire the basement, painted, canned our garden vegetables, cleaned house (not as well as I used to and never, ever as well as my Mom did), ironed, mowed/hoed/weeded, helped tear up a concrete driveway, moved furniture by myself (big stuff from upstairs to the basement) (used a sheet), and just generally worked like a mule.

And so has all my family.  And the in-laws.  And the out-laws.  My daughter rewired her bathroom by herself after reading a book on how to do it.  My nieces and nephews and their spouses are just as work hardy:  adding on rooms, changing out windows, plumbing, wiring, washing vehicles; anything that’s there to do, they can do it and do it well.

After reading her little response, I got to thinking about that work heritage and happened upon this picture that pretty well explains why we are all work horses.

Grandma Madeline and Mom 1925

When one was raised in the Great Depression, that person learned to work… and be frugal.  My mother never got over those years of lean times and always worked hard and saved harder.  She saved everything from money to tin foil.  And so did all the other ladies I knew that had gone through those oh-so-tough years.  Then they passed what they knew down to their children because what happened to them, well, it could happen to us, and we all needed to be prepared.

So we were taught at an early age to work:  cook, hang clothes on the line, iron, garden, clean.  Our neighbors up the hill, the Logsdons, had chickens, and Mrs. Logsdon would chop their heads off with an axe as we children squealed and ran from the flopping, headless hen.  Mom never had chickens.  From the photo I would imagine she’d had enough of them when she was small.

That’s probably why she married dad.  He was a grocer; it was what his family did.  So all she had to do was bring it home and fry it up.  Not a bad gig if you’ve ever been chased by a headless chicken.