Carrie J. posted an interesting piece about the amount of things we accumulate in our homes and in our lives. Read it here. I had read her post from last Friday about not stockpiling. I had been thinking about this "more more" mentality over the weekend and these are my thoughts.
I remember back to when I was a child. I didn't have as many clothes as I do now. My mother tells me that when she was a child growing up in the 30's and 40's she had like 2-3 dresses (girls didn't wear pants in those days) to wear to school. She might have a "best dress" to wear to church and she might have had a "slop dress" to wear for play or messy chores I don't know. I assume she had the requisite underwear to go with these dresses but I doubt she had as many as I do. I also know she had at least one pair of shoes and probably two. Go back another generation from that and they had about the same I'd say. Then I thought about my grandma Eva Fae. Grandma still has her old washer (and it still works) where you add the water with a hose and agitate the clothes by hand and then run them through the wringer to the rinse water and then back through the wringer and then put them on the line to dry. Now I said all that to say this: I think we have more clothes and we have more stuff because we have better technology. I mean before that washer of grandma's one would use a scrub board, wring by hand and hang on the line, and everything would have to be ironed using sad irons. A sad iron was heated by placing it on the stove for those of you who don't know. It took a lot of time and work to wash all the clothes for your family. Now they didn't wash each item every time it was used. It only got washed if it needed it. I assume they washed their underwear more frequently, but I might be wrong. Still, to wash each family members underwear and even one main article of clothing, not to mention the occasional towels, sheets and let's don't forget the baby clothes and diapers. What a mountain of work. One might wish for more clothes to be stylish but I imagine the thought of having to take care of them would stop you. That goes for all the fancy dishes we have. Water had to be toted, heated and soap grated up. No dishwasher's in those days. This is why my grandma can make hot cocoa using one pot and one spoon only. She can do other stuff that way as well. The houses were smaller because you had to build them yourself. Think back to Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. Pa Ingalls built their houses. Most people were doing the same. I've been to Desmet, South Dakota where their home was. There they have recreated the house on the claim according to Pa's measurements that he recorded when he "proved up" and the land was finally his. It's smaller than the 2 bedroom apartment I live in now. There were 6 of them. I mean he could have built on and added more and more rooms I suppose but it cost money to do, and then too cleaning all that much more house would be difficult. You had to heat the water and add soap to clean the floors. This was hands and knees scrubbing with a brush. Not my Swiffer Wet Jet. The more stuff you had the more you had to dust (the very reason I don't buy knick knacks) Basically doing everything back then was a lot harder. You had to walk a mile or more to the store. You could only bring back what you could carry unless your husband hitched up the horses and wagon (if you had them) and went. Supplies for the stores had to be brought in on the train which only ran once a week. Today Walmart Super Center has deliveries every day by truck. Anyway, you all get the point. We didn't have things back then because it wasn't really feasible to have them. I suspect we have them now because it's easier and because we are trying to "keep up with the Joneses." lol My sister-in-law Judy is the queen of decluttering. She always has had a nice place for them to live, but you'll never find any clutter there. She loves to throw things out. Kind of like the anti-pack rat. I on the other hand tend to hang on to things because "we might need it some day and I don't want to have to buy a new one." Being the globe trotting army wife that I am I've learned to get rid of a lot of things. On our 3 year anniversary we were packing for our fourth move. I don't stockpile anything liquid or perishable beyond what I can use in a year. It can't be moved by movers so it would end up donated or thrown out. A waste of money. Carrie J has a good point. Simple is better and to stockpile for the sake of stockpiling is silly especially if it is cluttering up your home. The money could be put to a better use. I do stockpile non liquid things that I can get for free or for pennies. I do however wait for the deeply discounted sales. I laugh when I see TP on "sale" for like 25 cents less than it usually is. Big fat hairy deal! Now if we were out I might buy one pack of it and use a coupon but I would not stockpile it. Today, for instance, I am going by the commissary because I just received some new coupons that will expire soon and TP is marked down so that with the coupons I can get a 4 pack double rolls for $1. I'll get as many as I have coupons for and if that cereal sale is still going on I'll get about 8 boxes of cereal for 50 cents each. Those things don't perish, I have a storage room to put them in, and we will definitely use it before we move. I would be interested in hearing other's thoughts about this subject.