Everybody who knows me know I grew up country.
I will refrain from telling just how country I grew up, other than noting that I have a lot of things in common with people who grew up in the days before water was piped into the house.
Still, the land provided my family their living year after year — rain or shine. We never went hungry, always had a roof over our heads and, along with my two brothers, grew into responsible adults. I even managed to graduate from university — debt free.
I learned a lot of things over the course of my four years in college, but I guarantee I learned much more in the years living and working at home. Probably one of the most important lessons I learned I got from my Dad — being frugal.
There is one phrase my Dad probably uttered more than any other during my life, and that was, “Turn that thing off.” Never said out of malice, just usually made in reference to some electrical device that might run up the electric bill.
My family (grandparents) finally got electricity through the REA, my Mom still calls it that by the way, in the 1930s or 40s. Over the course of that time they have never had an electric bill over $100, in fact they’ve never even approached that amount.
When growing up with the land providing for your living, you never know what the next day will bring, so excesses were not normally allowed — unless of course ice cream was involved.
Still, almost every day my Dad would go out and build fence, work in the corn patch, or some other task that needed doing; usually my Mom was right there beside him putting in a full day’s work.
I never thought of myself having to do without. We didn’t do without as we always had plenty of whatever we needed.
The word I stress there is “needed.” It is a lesson I’m eternally grateful to my Dad and my Mom for teaching me. We don’t do our children any favors by catering to their wants. We know families who indulge their child’s every whim. They whisk them to any and every activity they can think to enroll them in. Every want the child has forces the parent to work longer or go into deeper debt to give their children all the things they want.
I grow weary of seeing parents go under mountains of debt because they want to give their children everything, when all they need are the basics, mixed in with a whole lot of love.
People should understand that debt makes you a slave — a servant to the one who holds your debt. I for one refuse to be a slave to anyone.
So, I thank my Dad for setting that example for me, and hopefully I can do the same for my children as they grow into responsible adults, where they can learn to rely on no one but God to meet their needs.