Back To Basics: What I Learned From My Grandfather

Back To Basics: What I Learned From My Grandfather

Sarah Starkey
Apr 26, 2011

When I was growing up my grandfather never missed an opportunity to tell me about 'His Day'. In His Day you never put good food to waste, never threw out something that could, in whole or part, be used in some other way, and if you were cold you put more clothes on. At the time it didn't sound too appealing, but now I realize there's something to be said for His Day.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I want to live in His Day. I'm just saying that with all that we've learned we might have forgotten some of the basics of simply living.

1. Appreciate what you have. So help me if I even looked like suggesting dinner mightn't be to my liking, because at the end of the day I was lucky beyond my realizing. I try and apply the same principal to everything I have, material or otherwise. By appreciating what I have I see value beyond the new and shiny so I'm less likely to want more and more likely to maintain what I have.

2. Use less and make things last. My grandfather was the master of using less and making things last. He would water down the sauce bottles until we were basically using tomato-coloured water. We stored shampoo bottles upside down when they got low and mixed them with water when we couldn't shake any more out. He all but refused to buy anything he couldn't fix himself so what he did buy was designed to last. To this day one of the first questions I ask myself is 'will this last?'

3. Do it or make it yourself. Before I could even reach the pedals of a car my grandfather had taught me to change the tire. I've never had to, but still, it's nice to know I can. There's satisfaction in understanding when you're involved in the processes that you use every day. Whether it's cooking, gardening, cleaning or sewing doing things yourself allows a closer connection to a your time.

4. Only take what you need. We used to have to sit at the table until all our food was finished, and I was usually the last one there. To which my grandfather would ask 'eyes bigger than your stomach?' and my food usually ended up in the bin. I never really understood what he meant but I do now and I make an effort to avoid buying or having things just because I can.

5. Reuse everything you can. The bin was the absolute final resting place. Clothes were fixed, altered and handed down before they became rags. Tiny soaps were put together to make bigger soaps, dinner became bubble and squeak for breakfast and tea bags weren't used until they'd made at least 4 cups of tea. Even if things had to be pulled apart, there was always something that could be used in some other way for a new purpose.

(image size: Chris Devers under creative commons)

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