I just don’t have a lot of spare money, that’s all.
I remember asking a friend what I could give her for her birthday. She surprised me by saying “Two hours of your time”.
When I asked her to explain, she said it meant she could have a couple of hours all to herself without having to worry about the kids, the dog, doing the housework, or getting a meal for the family. You get my drift. How many Mums actually get some Me Time these days? No longer working, I have plenty of time, so giving up a couple of hours one day was certainly no hardship, and my friend had an enjoyable clothes shopping spree.
People laugh at me because I save wrapping paper. I am very careful not to give anyone a gift in the paper they wrapped mine in though! However, for presents for the dog or pass the parcel layers for party games, why waste money on posh stuff when a wrinkle or two are hardly likely to be noticed?
I make my own cards for birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas. Many see homemade cards as being tight. I get a lot of pleasure making them, some taking hours as they can be quite fiddly and my fingers aren’t as flexible as they used to be. I write some of my own verses too, which gives them that added ‘personal’ touch. However, if I require a sympathy card, I take the time to find one suitable for the family of the person who’s passed. I think it’s only right.
I cannot sew, or should I say I hate sewing, and it’s far easier to replace something that darn it. At school, I got as far as pinning the pattern onto the material, but I have no idea what happened to it. I never cut it out, let alone sewed it together. I’ve knitted a few jumpers, and crocheted hundreds of squares to make into blankets. Someone once thought I was setting up a cottage industry until I pointed out that each square took me 2 hours, and each blanket measured at least 10 by 10. How could I put a price on 200 hours per blanket plus wool?
What do you give the in-laws that have everything for Christmas? I baked. The first year it was a dozen mince pies and a cake. The second year it was a His and Hers iced offering, blue on His side, pink on Hers. She froze the pink half, and ate the blue half. He didn’t have any. The following year, money was even tighter, so I made sweets for everyone. An outlay of £25 provided ingredients and packaging for over 40 gifts, and proved very popular with my then workmates who asked every year thereafter not to forget to make them. Sweeties for the in-laws were in a large shallow basket, which was kept in their fridge, but by the time Dad fancied one, all he got was a fistful of wrappers.
Nothing is wasted in our house. Hubby and I share a tea bag. Any leftover food is made into bubble and squeak or curry, any cake disaster smothered in custard and called ‘Surprise’, and even the water used to stew the apples is put in a jelly for that extra ‘zing’. We pick fruit from the hedgerows and if I don’t have enough of one to make a pie, I add it to the little bits of others and we’ll have a ‘berry’ crumble. Any surplus homegrown fruit and veg is given away or exchanged for similar but different, ie apples for carrots. We supply a local tearooms with apples, tomatoes and runner beans in the summer, for which we get a pot of tea and cream scone in exchange. Fallers from the apple tree are taken down to an animal sanctuary, where apparently the pigs love them!
People say we are tight purely because we don’t spend a lot of money, certainly not in their direction anyway, but then why should we be expected to? My argument is we can’t spend what we haven’t got. We are both generous with our time though, and sometimes that is worth so much more, but sadly people don’t see it like that.