Winter time was always heralded in with a family ritual when I was a kid. Every year, when the first southerly blew, we would close the windows for the season. We had those windows that wind in and out, and after years of shifting, swelling and warping, the windows no longer closed with ease, so one person stood outside, rugged up against the chill and pushed on the window, while the other wound it in. Around the house, each window in turn closed for the winter.
What are your fond memories of childhood?
Most of your favourite childhood memories won’t be about things. Your most poignant memories will be the most simple. A single smell will transport you back to a moment that makes you stop and smile. The most sentimental memories won’t be about perfection: they will involve flaws, mess, calamity and fun. Your childhood memories will reflect your unique family environment and the adult you grew into.
Our homes are the heart of our family. Today, there is a lot of emphasis on creating the ‘perfect’ environment for our families. Entire magazines are dedicated to having designer looking houses. There are TV programmes with the premise that life will be better when we make-over our lounge rooms. And once we’ve established the perfect look, we have all sorts of machines and concoctions to maintain it, clean it, tidy it and ensure it is germ free.
There’s nothing wrong with having a comfortable home to live in. In fact, it is the job of the ‘homemaker’ to make a house a home. I wonder though, if in our attempt to recreate perfect, cookie-cutter lifestyles we are robbing ourselves and our families of our own uniqueness and personality at the same time.
In our attempt to cushion our lives, insulate ourselves from experiencing the true nature of life: feeling hot or cold, feeling pain occasionally and the sweet, satisfying fatigue that comes after a day of productive toil; in our attempt to avoid any feeling of ‘deprivation’ from not having what we want when we want it, from not having what the Jones’ have, I wonder: are we stealing away the very challenges that build character, that provide opportunities for growth, that mould us into independent, responsible adults?
When I think about my childhood, I think about times I laughed, times I cried, conversations with friends and family, the games we played, the new skills we learned like fixing punctures in bike tyres, baking cakes and learning to sew. And then I think about what kind of childhood memories I hope my children will have. I don’t want their childhood to pass by in a monotonous blur of XBox games and TV. When they think about the home they grew up in, I hope they remember the quirks and characteristics that make our family unique.
As parents we want to give our children as much as we can. Our children may not grow up in a designer home, have all the latest mod-cons, toys and games, they may not have all the things that their friends have. But in the absence of perfection, in the space that is left when not filled with things, there will be a gift more precious than anything tangible we can give them: character, strength and memories that shape and reflect their own individual identity.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.