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Practical's Place


This week Brenda at Ponderings of an Author asked, "Are you surrounded by practical things and have left no room in your life for whimsy?"

Practical was a word I abhorred as a child. It was one my mother used frequently when it came to shopping for things like school clothes and shoes.  A brightly colored dress with fancy features would catch my eye and mom would shake her head.  "It' isn't practical", she'd say. "It won't wash well/wear well/etc."  So I'd end up with the plain hunter green school jumper or a plaid dress like the one above, not the pretty one I wanted.  "Practical," I remember fuming, "Why does everything have to be practical?" 

Of course I knew the answer, my parents had grown up as poor farm kids during the Great Depression, when there wasn't enough money for essentials, much less luxuries.  Although my father had become a successful businessman and we lived in a nice house in our small town, and had all we needed and more, my parents were still sensible and practical when it came to spending money.  There was no splurging on purely frivolous purchases, things that didn't appear durable, or and things that we wanted "just because".  I vowed as a child that I would not always stick with what was practical and sensible, sometimes I would throw caution to the wind and choose something just to make my heart smile.

Then I grew up and found myself in marriages that were less financially stable than what I knew as a child. Once again being "practical" had to be the rule of the day. Money was spent for essentials, and there wasn't much left over for extras.  When I became a single mom things were even harder; it was a struggle just to make ends meet. Practical won out over whimsy by necessity, but I am happy to say that I remembered my childhood experiences well enough to ensure that sometimes my children got to choose something special to wear or for their rooms that wasn't purely utilitarian and practical.  An easing of the rules now and then makes for special memories.

As an empty-nester adult, I've had more freedom to choose what feels both right and fun, and though I have retained the practical nature of my upbringing and our house is not loaded down with fancy do-dads and such. I don't walk the mall or super-center aisles on the lookout for new things to buy. However, I do indulge myself in fun things like the occasional brightly printed satin kaftan for housewear, and bold purple acrylic fingernails and toes; and my wonderfully romantic husband has been known to purchase special treasures for me like the lovely china tea set we found on a trip we took last fall.  Neither of us are materialistic, and we budget our finances carefully, but we agree that while practical clearly has it's place, there also needs to a few surprises and bright spots in life, and room for a bit of frivolity and fun!
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Linking up with Brenda at Pondering With A Purpose 
where this week's prompt is "practicality"

10 comments:

  1. It makes the heart soar to have special non-practical gifts now and then.
    But it is practical to remember where we came from and appreciate it now because it is all those practical lessons in life that makes us responsible adults. Great piece Josie :))

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    1. You make a great point, Janice! I was raised to be financially responsible, and to know that paying bills comes before splurging on pleasure. Having lived with someone who failed to understand that concept, I am grateful for my practical upbringing and what I learned from it! It is also one of the many things I strongly admire about Papa Bear, he is frugal, yet fun! :-)

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  2. I love this addition to PWP ... and I like you never got the 'fun' things as a child and as a single parent struggling to make ends meet I tried my hardest to make sure my kids had the kinds of clothes they wanted so they would fit in... not stand out. Now that I think back on it... that was a lot of money for a 'brand' name! BUT --- the other motto I have come to know quite well.... You Only Live Once and You can't take it with you!

    Thanks for Pondering with me!

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    1. I agree with that motto, to a point, too Brenda. I think a splurge now and then is fun, so is sneaking in a mini-trip on pinched pennies. There has to be some fun in all that working to pay the bills. I also like to see some thought given to what you can do to make life nicer for others, so it's not all about me.

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  3. I am practical...plain & simple. To me it is safe, secure and comfortable. You can be practical an still have fun. It really comes down to personality and priority. To each their own.

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    1. I see myself as being that way too, I'm not a fancy kind of girl, the little things tend to give me the most pleasure, and thankfully that is also true of Papa Bear. It doesn't take a lot of money to make us smile.

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    1. I do too, Shimon, it fits me better. :-)

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  5. I have had times of abundance and times where I had to be extremely frugal so I know how important being practical is. But it is nice to splurge now and then. I treat myself by buying books of poetry. Nothing cheers me up more!

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    1. Buying books used to be one of my guilty pleasures, Selma, though I don't find nearly as much time to read as I used to. We have to do a few special things for ourselves, they are real spirit-lifters!

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)