When I was young, my Grandmother gave each of us $3 tucked in a sweet store-bought card for our Birthdays. We were to go “Hog Wild” and blow every dime!!! When we were very little, this was a monumental sum and we would plan for days our shopping spree!!! But as we rounded out the ages of 10 then 12 and 15, we came to realize that $3 would barely get us out the door! But, Granny always gave us the $3 anyway, even though she could have afforded much more!
I recently celebrated my Birthday. One of those Birthdays that you wonder where time went and your innocent youth and you cry while watching The Yearling with Gregory Peck while you eat chocolate cake on the couch surrounded by your zillion cats!!!! Yeah! I celebrated THAT Birthday!!!!! And for a flash, I had this thought “Granny’s $3 should come tomorrow!” and I felt better and more like Life goes on no matter how ancient you are!!!!
But, Granny has been gone for decades and $3 barely buys a gallon of gas! It probably never did buy much, but there was something romantic about that gift of choices. Granny trusted ME to know what I wanted, to figure out the true value of that material item, and to choose wisely because my budget was limited.
I decided, on this Birthday of No Return, that I should go seek that “Gift” valued at $3. I had to think hard about this because I could have easily run off to the Dollar Store and bought three items and said “WhaLa!”. I could have also gone to Walmart and into the deep clearance aisle and purchased several things that added up to the $3 limit and again, said “WhaLa!” But what would that mean? I now owned plastic junk from a foreign country that would either sit in the back of a drawer or break within days? And what kind of Tribute would that be to my Granny???
So, Instead, I headed off to my favorite “Junk” Store! The County Humane Society Thrift Store is close to my heart both for its purpose in supporting a worthwhile cause and venue, but also because they price the items that are donated reasonably! I am a familiar face to the 2 employees because I go in often to scour the shelves looking for odd items that I can use in my artwork.
Today, I went directly to the manager and explained to him that I needed to spend my Granny’s 3 bucks in full!!! He chuckled and then cleared his throat when he recognized my full seriousness!!!! “Alrighty then….Let’s get started!” and he guided me over to the shelf with empty frames.
And then we moved to the books. Next was the chachki. aisle , full of knick knacks and doo dads that absolutely NO ONE needs, but you MUST have!!!!
The final destination was old art supplies. I started digging through plastic boxes and baskets and piles of fabrics and containers full of lace and buttons and beads and string.
I carried all of my loot to the front counter and proudly declared, “What are the damages??!!” The manager took a paper pad, licked the lead of the pencil and began adding up my accumulation of wonders!! His assistant carefully wrapped everything up as if it were precious treasure. Other customers gathered to see if the $3 would be met, or surpassed.
“Well”, the manager said. “My calculations …with taxes, comes to…” breath was sucked in…”to 3 dollars and….” More sucked in breath “and 30 cents!” Everyone quickly looked at me to see if Granny’s $3 would be spent on the stash! I hemmed and then I hawed and finally…(just like when I was 8 years old) “SOLD!” I exclaimed!
In the end, Granny’s $3 was well spent. I bought memories and a sweet connection to her frugal instinct. I reignited the excitement of “the Hunt” and the intensity and energy of planning. Although Gran has been physically gone for a long time, she still is with me everyday, every time I need to work within limitations, every hurried decision I need to make wisely, and every moment that things appear impossible, but she is telling me they most certainly are not!!!
Until Next Time