So far, every year that we have been together, Andrew and I have gone to his parents house before Christmas to help decorate the tree. It has been a great tradition - Mom St.Hilaire sits on the couch with her boxes full of ornaments and carefully unwraps each one. She hands the ornaments to us and we decorate the tree. This has been a neat way to be a part of the family because I get to hear all the stories behind the ornaments. Maybe I'll take pictures next time and share the stories on our blog.
Anyway, there are some ornaments they have that date back to their first years of marriage. They are all homemade because they could not afford to buy new ornaments. This year, I found myself thinking about how we have very few ornaments to decorate our tree. Instead of immediately thinking "I should make some!" My thoughts went directly to "Where should I buy them?" Even though we are likely in a similar financial state as Andrew's parents in the beginning of their marriage.
This brings me to my point: I have realized that it is so easy to buy things that we want, even if it would be better financially to live with less. Credit cards have really given people in the middle and lower social economic status' the opportunity to live like they are wealthy. But this comes back to haunt so many people who are now drowning in debt.
It did not use to be this way. Before credit, if you didn't have the money for something, you simply didn't buy it. Now life seems so much more complicated because it is so easy to get whatever we want. After realizing all of this, I have decided I don't want to live that way. I want to be simple. I want to only spend what we have.
Another story I've heard from Mom and Dad St.Hilaire is when their first daughter, Jenny, was born. They did not have a rocking chair and desperately needed one to sooth her. Instead of buying one, Dad carved two pieces of wood into curves and nailed a chair on top of them. He says that he did not have the right saw to make perfect curves, so when they rocked in it, it was uneven...but it worked. After John was born, we also did not have a rocking chair. We searched around for a used one, but didn't find one that we liked and could afford. Then, seeing our need, Mom and Dad St.Hilaire generously bought one for us. Needless to say, making a rocking chair did not cross our minds!
I am currently reading St. Jean Vianney's biography. Last night I read a part about after he was ordained and was assigned to the parish in Ecully under Fr. Balley. It describes the two of them taking a pilgrimage and they only owned one umbrella. So when it rained on their pilgrimage, they both huddled under one umbrella. If this were my situation, I would be tempted to pitch out a few dollars for another umbrella. But they did not have the money for another umbrella, and they were able to manage with just one - so even if they did have enough money, why waste it?
So now I am making a goal of living with less. I hope this will help my family to be better off financially, as I am the one who typically does the shopping. Part of this goal will involve bringing every purchase to prayer (which, I honestly have not been doing!). I also hope this will help teach John not to buy every little thing he wants.
"Lord, please help me to buy only what I need and spend only what I have. Amen."