Friday, November 14, 2008

Accentuate the Positive

A friend told me last week that every time anyone uses the expression “credit crunch”, a fairy dies, yet at the moment it is getting impossibly difficult to avoid the doom and gloom in our newspapers, on our TVs and in the general water cooler chatter in the office.
I swear I am reaching the stage where if I hear a single mention of the “current climate” or “economic downturn” one more time I’m not going to held responsible for my actions.
Sure, things are tough out there at the moment for a lot of people - but being constantly reminded of the fact is not making life any more bearable or enjoyable.
I’m not advocating a bury your head in the sand approach to the whole thing - although sometimes hiding under the duvet, putting my fingers in my ears and singing “La La La, I can’t hear you” sounds mightily appealing. What I am, however, advocating is that we all just stop being such merchants of doom and gloom. Life is tough, but it’s not impossible.
A friend and I have decided to make sure we focus on the more positive things in life for a bit. Like most people we are feeling the pinch but, as my friend so rightly said there is some comfort in at least knowing that we (in a High School Musical fashion) are all in this together.
We are all being challenged on a daily basis to think more creatively with our finances and to do the best we can to protect our children from the feeling the strain.
I’m trying my best to remind myself of when we were growing up. Like a lot of Derry families we didn’t have much money - but there were very few occasions when I actually felt deprived.
In fact the only one that truly springs to mind was not having Levi jeans when the rest of my Bros loving friends had them. I made do with the Dunnes Stores, Better Value version.
There was always food on the table, clothes on our backs and plenty of presents under the tree at Christmas. In hindsight - and after talking these things through with my parents as an adult -things were tight on more than one occasion.
There is a story of legend in our house about how my mother fed us wains custard for our tea one night as the cupboards were bare and at least we would be getting something warm in us, and a good dose of milk.
I know my parents spent a lot of our childhood eeking things out and making do - but as children were protected from their financial worries and in fact we found different ways to pass the time. Sure there were no personal computers or games consoles. We didn’t always have the latest must-have toys. (Although I did get a Crystal Barbie one year and was over the moon with myself - she was the most envied doll in Rosemount Primary School). And as I’ve said high fashion didn’t come into it. We were a family clothed in home knits and hand me downs - although there were always new clothes for special occasions and the excitement of new pyjamas at Christmas. (I’m pretty sure we got new pjs during the year, for the record. We didn’t have just the one set to see us through - but Christmas stands out.)
My husband always has a good laugh when I tell him that there were no array of breakfast cereals in our house and we made do with Weetabix or Ready Brek except for at Christmas were there was an annual box of Sugar Puffs - which was a source of amazing excitement.
And as I’ve become a little bit (for that read a lot) obsessive about cutting down on our oil consumption, I remind myself there was a time when central heating was unheard of and the only source of heat in the house was the fire in the living room. (Which was an experience I endured, and survived, again at university in our icebox house just off the Shore Road in Newtownabbey).
The thing is - apart from the memory of going to bed in three layers of pjs at university - none of these memories are particulary bad and they are certainly aren’t painful.
It wasn’t hard to deal with - it was just the way things were. And to be honest I’m pretty sure we were more appreciative of the little things (like Sugar Puffs and a Crystal Barbie) and we certainly didn’t feel deprived.
Perhaps my parents had their share of sleepless nights over it but we certainly were not aware of that. Childhood remained as innocent as it should be.
So even though times are undoubtedly hard for many people it’s time to just get on with it - batten down the hatches, put a smile on your face and cope as best as our parents, and their parents did before us.
There might be a lot to worry about out there, but there is also a lot to be thankful for.


Keris said...

Hey! Have I been in the Derry Journal?! :)

The thing that drives me mad is that it's self-perpetuating. The economy is primarily based on consumer confidence, so constantly banging on about economic downturn, etc., is actually making the situation worse.

Plus, if you believe in the Law of Attraction - and I do - negativity only attracts negativity.

So pththt to it, I say, we're still a hell of a lot better off than most of the world's population.

Lois Lane said...

Totally agree with you Claire. I had a similar childhood to that which you describe but my parents made sure we were unaware of the financial problems they had. Epsom market clothes were fine by me - no Levi's here either lol! I'm totally grateful to my parents that I had those fond memories. xx

Mandy said...

I have to say, i was dead jealous of you in our teens. You and lisa's seasonal clothes shopping trips made me green with envy!(especially that white cheesecloth smock top you had when we were 16, i wish i had that even now-though it would never fit!)
It was a happy time, levi's or not!

bfs said...

So agree with your post! My dad reminisces about the 'Great Depression' and how they got by just fine.

We do have lots to be thankful for! I vote that we turn off the news and burn the newspaper!

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