Posted: 24 Jun 2010 11:59 PM PDT
I scanned through my daughter's pictures for a few minutes last night looking for photographs of frugal good times, and then I started brain-storming a bit to flesh out the list. Some of these things are 'dates' and some of the are family activities, and many of them work just as well in either category.
In no particular order, here's a romp through some joyful, and very frugal, memories:
Have a race. Jump rope. Play hop scotch. Find a hill and slide down it on cardboard boxes (wax them by rubbing with the side of a candle for even more speed). Skip. Play Mother May I, Red Light, Green Light, or ring around the rosy. Find a swing set and swing. Even if you are thirty. Especially if you are forty.
Go to the beach, a lake, a river, a stream, a creek, a brook or any body of water- hang out. Toss rocks in the water. Wade. Sit on a blanket or lawn chair and just talk to one another, enjoying one another's company
Have a picnic. We've had picnics at parks, at the beach, by the river, on the verge of a parking lot outside a museum, out of the back of the van, and on blankets on my living room floor. A couple times I even set out plastic ants. Invite friends. Bring cards, a ball, a book or all three.
You can have a picnic in the rain. This is from somebody's 18th birthday party, and she says it's the best party she had, ever, and all the friends who came agreed.
Go for a walk, even if it's muddy outside. Drive somewhere new, park the car and get out and take a walk. Go as a family or go with your spouse (above is our youngest child, our third youngest child, and their brother-in-law, only this was taken about three years before we knew that's who he was going to be).
Dress up and be silly and extravagant and more than a little ridiculous. Speak in period or in costume. Take pictures. Dress up like this and go out for coffee and a piece of pie. Split the pie. Put on a play. Let your kids put on a play for you. Go to the thrift shop or a yard sale together and look for the most outlandish piece of clothing you can find for a dollar or less.
Yes, my family is macabre. Go to the cemetary and find the oldest headstone, or the most interesting. Take a picnic (yes, we do this). Take a book. Take paper and crayons and start a collection of tomb rubbings.
Find a bridge and play Pooh-sticks. Walk slowly across it, hand in hand. Skip across it. Stop in the middle and sing a song to hear how your voice carries over water. Sing Bridge Over Troubled Water, very badly. Drop rocks in the water. Look for turtles. Slap mosquitoes and compare bite marks. Scratch each other's backs.
Bake up a storm, take cookies to a neighbor or a new mom from church. Have friends over for pie and coffee. Eat up your treats while watching a movie together. Play a board game or a game of cards. Play Charades.
Sing. Karaoke. Bring up midi files or youtube videos of songs and sing along with them. Make a family CD- everybody pitches in a dollar to pay to download a favorite song at Amazon and put them all on a single CD reflecting your family's unique tastes and vision.
Or you and your spouse put together your own special CD of romantic music and have a candlight ice-cream sundae in your room with the door locked. REad the Song of Solomon together.
Sit under a tall tree in the fall and read aloud from Janice May Udrey's very charming picture book.
Pick a book to read aloud to each other, or as a family. Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog...) is pretty funny.
Look for free events in your town- concerts, lectures, museums, free days at the zoo or aquarium. Does your little town have a local historical society? A book club?
Volunteer somewhere together.
Weed the garden together.
Do the dishes together- you'll be surprised how much meaningful conversation can come from doing some mundane task together.
Take a free class together- card making night at the library, or a sign language class at church, or get certified by the Red Cross together.
The first couple of years my husband and I were married, we had to do our laundry at a laundromat. We would take along backgammon or mastermind and play one of those two games together while doing our laundry. Bring along a thermos of iced coffee or lemon-ade as well.
Visit a nursing home together.
Write down a list of people you know, put their names in a jar, take turns drawing names out of the jar and saying something nice about them- then write a note of appreciation to some of the people on your list.
These are just a few ideas. There are dozens of ways to have fun, meaningful, bonding, delicious, wonderful, joyful times together that do not need to cost much, or even anything. There are deliciously wonderful things which you can do to serve others, to grow together, to increase your level of enjoyment and understanding of one another- things that will bring wonderful memories and sweet fellowship without the bitter aftertaste of adding to your credit card, or finding that you really could use the money you spent on pizza for a pair of shoes or a visit to the doctor.
There is no lack of joy in frugal living. There is an abundance of all the things that matter most.
Posted: 24 Jun 2010 07:10 AM PDT
Sitting with Dear Friend, enjoying the view of Pennsylvania hills massed with lush and large green leafed trees, our conversation was filled with memories. Family and I were on a trip to the East Coast, and had some precious moments to visit with this woman. Alzheimer's, seeking to steal this incredible, fascinating mind, had left remnants strong and clear. She remembered us and was thrilled at our visit!
A child of the Depression, Dear Friend was truly a frugal hero. Even now in later years, the choice of modest living was still her mantra. Her abode was simple and well cared for. With nature to observe and pictures of loved ones close, Dear Friend was content.
A childless couple, Dear Friend and her husband had traveled many a country and 49 states. She regaled our minds, just as many times before, with tales of the past and her trips abroad. Now a widow for 30 years, frugality was not a choice of necessity for this Dear Friend. Few knew, she could be living like a queen if she so desired.
Chuckling to myself, I recalled those many years ago, when Dear Friend was child-watching for me. Returning home, I discovered she had found a half eaten box of cereal in my trash and had resurrected such, to my chagrin. Sheepishly confessing that I had lost sight of said box and that now the contents were no longer edible, I again placed the box in the trash. I learned to be more careful with my cereal! Yes, we had some funny stories about Dear Friend. We also learned to check dates on any food gifts she might give us and, yes, she might have been called a bit eccentric. But the lessons learned from this frugal hero were many.
Generous beyond compare, she chose to live a simple life and gave away to her favorite charities and organizations more than she ever spent each year upon herself. Always seeking to be a good steward of all the Lord had blessed her with, Dear Friend's example blazed upon my life. People were her joy, and possessions only important for how they could be used in service to others.
Hugging this grandmother of the heart to my children, I said goodbye. We may never meet again on this earth, but I will carry her legacy with me forever. She is and always shall be, my frugal hero.
Do you have a frugal hero?
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