While I have never been poor in the traditional sense of poverty, for most of my life I have lived paycheque to paycheque with almost no resources for the unexpected.  I was a single parent for most of my daughter’s life except for almost 5 years when I married & then divorced my first husband.  This has been tough a few times in my life:

  1. When my first husband & I split up his lawyer tied our finances up for almost a year to try to get me to settle for less in our separation agreement.  At one point I had to borrow $20 from my parents to be able to get to & from work till payday.  When Christmas came that year, my daughter & I made candles from parafin wax, paper cups, milk cartons & her leftover crayons (for color) so she would have gifts for our families.
  2. When I had my hours cut back at the newspaper from full time to part time & had a very sick dog to take care of.  Bill collectors do not understand why you are having trouble paying for hydro or heat when you have to pay for insulin & vet visits for a dog.  This led to 6 months without hot water when they turned off the gas, so I would boil water to have a bath & wash my hair or do the dishes.  I did it willingly to give comfort to a dog who was my best friend for 13 years so he could die when he was ready to go instead of when I  had to put him down because I couldn’t afford to keep him.Thumbelina doll
  3. As a young girl, my parents also lived this way & there were times at Christmas when I didn’t get exactly the same gifts as I asked for or if I did there would be subtle differences between what I got & what my friends got.  Specifically, I remember the year my sister & I wanted Thumbelina dolls for Christmas.  Christmas morning we got up to find beautiful Thumbelina dolls under the tree with mauve carriages & bedding.  I thought they were the most beautiful things I had ever seen.  If they were different from my friend’s Thumbelinas it didn’t matter a whit, ours were special.  Years later I found out my parents had been tearing their hair out that year because the dolls themselves were so expensive & what are dolls with no accessories.  My parents had found 2 second hand carriages, my dad had sanded them down, fixed the tires & replaced all the other rubber then painted them mauve while my mother sewed the bedding including hand stitching seed pearls into the comforters to make them look as close to the doll’s special accessories.Back Scratcher
  4. This Christmas found both my husband & I unemployed & while we do have a little bit in savings, it’s not enough to sustain us for any length of time, so this Christmas we exchanged a small gift – we each gave the other a favorite box of chocolates (since we don’t allow ourselves to treat too much the rest of the year, this was special to us) & hubby found me a back scratcher which I was thrilled with, except mine is a beautiful shade of lilac instead of stainless steel.  It’s telescopic so it can be adjusted to any length I need it to be.  Having long hair & being old (some days I feel a hundred to be truthful), I always have stray hairs clinging to my clothes on my back, making my back excessively itchy & I just cannot reach to scratch it.  It also gets hubby out of the job of having to scratch my back (which is a bonus to him).
  5. Another bonus to both of us being unemployed this year is we finally cleaned out our freezer!  We have always bought in bulk to save money & then re-packaged portion sizes for the freezer since there are just the 2 of us.  Sometimes we forget about some of these portions until they’re freezer burned & we end up having to throw them out.  We won’t have the same problem now.

My point being, when needs must, people get creative to make things work for them.  In our society of conspicuous consumption, maybe some people need to get more creative instead of looking for someone else to help them out.