Friday, July 19, 2013

Under Wraps - Wisdom from My Memere

My Memere lived during the Great Depression.

Going through times like that has an impact on a person. Everyday items were rationed so she received amounts of sugar, coffee, meat and other foods; this amount depended on how many were in the household. Recipes were altered to use less sugar and God forbid, you didn’t throw anything away. Was it any wonder that when my children were young, if they only took a bite of their bread and butter, Memere would cut off the part they’d bitten and save the rest?

They weren't able to get nylon stockings because they needed to make parachutes during the war. We think nothing of this today but, women didn’t go bare-legged back then. It was a cultural thing. Ladies wore stockings.

Memere is also a wealth of ideas for recycling. Like, using empty toilet paper rolls to keep your scarves from getting lost in your drawer and for keeping extension cords from getting tangled together. Her favorite thing to read is the Hints from Heloise column in the newspaper. She loves sharing her findings with anyone who will listen.
Living in 2013, we have no idea about these things. Everything is disposable. Food is wasted by the ton. Thriftiness is a skill we may need coaching in if we continue to see job loss and inflation taking away our buying power. So if you see a “My Memere says…” column pop up on social media, you’ll know you can trust the advice.

Another thing my Memere does, is to save the “good” things for company. The nice towels are wrapped in tissue paper in a box under her bed. She has nightgowns and robes with the tags still attached. Instead, she uses her elbow patched sweater with the holes in the pockets because it’s “just fine”. And, if the gift box is just too pretty, she won’t open it. I think that goes for the two-year old Panettone with the tulle bow I saw in her room last week.
At age 95, she isn’t about to change. But, sometimes I think there may be glimmers of hope. Like last week when she asked to eat dinner in the dining room with the candles lit. That’s called living in the moment. It’s enjoying the gift of today. She probably came to the table in her old comfy sweater, but changes happen one step at a time.  Dinner by candlelight is a great start.

Thomas Jefferson said, don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today (No, I don’t think my Memere ever met him). I think that applies to candlelight dinners and taking tags off the new towels. That goes for our eternity too. The closer we get to death the more we realize the importance of facing our mortality. Settling that now frees us up to enjoy today with no regrets.

I think I’ll serve tea with my china set today—why keep it under wraps? When else am I going to enjoy it?

Happy 95th Birthday, Memere!!

Love you forever,


Do you have any questions for Memere?
And, I know she would love to get your birthday notes, so leave a message and I will deliver them to her.


Discover recipes and ways of life during the Depression years and Hints from Heloise: 

Day 18 - 31 Day Blog Challenge


  1. Happy Birthday, 'Memere'! May God bless you and your granddaughter, Jeanne. Loved hearing about your life and dinner by candlelight.


  2. Thanks, Carole. I will pass on your wishes to Mem.
    I appreciate you taking the time to share your word of encouragement

  3. Happy birthday to Memere!

    Both of my parents grew up during the depression. Now that Mom is in a nursing home, we had to clean out her house. She had money stashed in the oddest places. Lots of it! Even though she had official money in the bank, she never wanted to be completely cut off from her cash, I guess.

  4. Barbara,

    I bet they didn't trust banks much after the crash of 1929 :)
    I will share your birthday wishes with Mem!

  5. Happy Birthday, Memere! I hope you had a great day!

  6. Thank you, Carol. I will pass your wishes along to her. She is celebrating with her three daughters and sons in law today

  7. Happy Birthday Memere! I hope you have a wonderful day!

  8. Gram, You are the most important person I have ever known. (Even Thomas Jefferson.) You have the capacity to love with every fiber of your being. You have a sense of humor that never stops. You are loved more than we can ever say. Happy Birthday. Love you,
    Kelly, Marc, Joe and Matthew

  9. Happy, happy birthday, dear Memere! Hope you have a lovely and cherished birthday!

  10. Happy Birthday Memere!Sounds just the my mom She will be 90 next month. I enjoy listening to her stories also. Enjoy!!.

  11. Thanks all for your well wishes. I can't wait to share them with Mem.
    I appreciate you all

  12. Christine emailed and asked a question:

    Hi Memere!

    Happy Birthday!! Here is my question for you ...... What is the best advice anyone ever gave you??

    Love and prayers,

    So, I asked Memere. Her answer astounded me!! She said the best advice given was:

    Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

    I HAD NO IDEA when I included that quote in my blog. Do I know my Memere or what!!??

  13. Dear Memere,
    My parents lived through the great depression. They taught me everything I know about finances. Best of all they endowed my sisters and me with a deep reverence for the Lord's tithe.
    Thank you, dear lady, for your faith and teaching your children to treasure the riches of God's wisdom which resides so deeply in you.
    Happy Birthday!
    Margie Houmes

  14. Thank you for your blessing, Margie. I am sure my mom is sharing these posts with her.


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