(Don’t forget that it’s our first Pennywise Platter Thursday tomorrow! I hope to see you there!)
I don’t want to sugar coat hard times, because they were (and are) hard. Sometimes making ends meet on a tight budget isn’t dignified, glorious, or fun. Instead it can be depressing. I know that’s true.
But I think it’s important for us to realize that this struggle of survival is hardly a new phenomenon. Reaching back into the past we find so many lessons of help and encouragement for us today.
For example, take the women and men who lived through the Great Depression in our country.
“Women surely suffered from overwork and constant worry during the depression. Many lived bleak lives of want. And if is true that they were pushed out of jobs in favor of men. But to sum up their lives during the 1930’s as pure drudgery and powerlessness would be terribly wrong.
When men lost jobs during the depression, they sometimes found themselves unable to fulfill their societal roles as providers. But for most women, the depression reinforced ancient lessons. Transforming leftovers into soup, making bread crumbs from stale bread, recycling corn seeds into new plants-these womanly skills of thrift had been stressed for centuries. In these hard times most women had concrete skills and comforts they knew how to offer.
In oral histories and memoirs, many women express undeniable pride in their creativity and ingenuity in coping with tough times. When the bank account is low and there is a wonderful pot of soup made out of bones, vegetables scraps and herbs, how do we measure this value? When the boredom and sorrows of being human weigh us down to despair, how do we measure the value of food in its comfort and simple physical pleasure? During the Great Depression, women used cooking to create economic value. They also made life better, more gracious and humane. “
A Thousand Years over a Hot Stove, Laura Schenone Pg 300-301
Yes, things were hard, often terribly hard, but there was a dignity to the home gardeners and cooks who made it possible for a family to survive. That is a dignity that goes far beyond the Great Depression and reaches back to the thousands of years of history where humans needed ingenunity and hard work to simply survive.
Perhaps some of you have lost jobs, or your spouse has. Perhaps you’ve had a pay cut. Perhaps you, like me, are trying to learn how to garden in a hurry! Perhaps some of you are trying to learn how to cook for the first time to help make ends meet. Don’t look down on your work, and don’t get discouraged. Like Laura said, how do we measure the value of food scraped out of a tight budget? Not only does it create “economic value” but it does make life a little better, a little more gracious and humane during hard times.
Hard work? Yes, but it’s hard work full of worth.
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