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!