Monday, August 25, 2008

Making do ... and making it fun!

This post reminded me of a few things my parents did while we were growing up.

You owe it to yourself to read the post. She talks about how popcorn and soda parties were the result of unfortunate incidents when she was growing up ... but her mother never let on, and actually made it a fun experience. She had a wonderful mother!

But you know what? I had wonderful parents, too. Let me tell you my story.

Before I was born, my father worked at the railroad and made good money. In light of the good salary, my parents bought a house and a nice car before I was born. But one month before I was born, the unthinkable happened. There was a massive flood in the town where my dad worked. The railroad was wiped out and the nice car was totaled. Dad lost his job as a result, but we count ourselves fortunate that he was able to get out of town on the last road that was open.

When I came along, the picture was totally different than when my siblings were born. Work was hard to come by and sporadic at best. I think we lived on unemployment more often than not. But my dad is a proud man and a hard worker. If there was work to be had, he would do it, even if it was just sweeping streets.

As a result, money was pretty tight for most of my childhood. But you know what? I have such wonderfully happy memories of that time. I'm sure there were plenty of worries on my parents' side, but not much of that got transferred to us.

I remember many winters when we would move our beds to the basement and pretty much live in the basement simply because we couldn't afford to heat the whole house. It was such a fun experience! Mom and Dad made it an adventure - like camping out. The only trick was that we couldn't tell our grandparents that we were doing it. Whenever they might come over, we went upstairs and pretended everything was normal. Why was that? Because my parents were determined not to take handouts if they could help it.

Another thing that comes to mind is something I didn't know until I was an adult. One year money was so tight that Mom and Dad knew they weren't going to have much for Christmas. So that summer they scoured yard sales for like-new toys that they knew we'd enjoy, and we had our usual big Christmas. You know what? Even after they told me, I couldn't figure out what year it was. They were so good at it that we had no idea. (Not that we would have minded!)

Those are the kind of memories I'd like for my children. No, not memories of hard times; memories of creative fun inspired by the not-so-fun realities of life. My parents were very good at it! (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)