by Susan McBride
I find myself avoiding the evening news these days. I mostly tune in just to see the weather and hear any updates on off-season Blues hockey (hey, they just got a really good defenseman from Sweden who's about 19 and cute as a button!). I'm not even very keen on reading online news. It's like everywhere I look something awful's happening: economies are collapsing, wars are going on, a military coup's taken place, another celebrity has passed away, or a fat-cat financier's going to jail (okay, that last one isn't depressing at all really).
If anything good comes out of our own country's current mess, I hope it's people taking a look at their lives and realizing that little things mean a lot. I remember being in high school when Ralph Lauren was taking off, and we all begged our parents for anything with a tiny Polo man on it. "Greed is good," Gordon Gekko declared, and everyone bought it. Pretty soon, too many folks were living on credit, buying houses, cars, electronics, and other bling they couldn't afford. Right out of college, my sister had five major credit cards all charged to their limits. Meanwhile, post-university, I paid for everything in cash and had a heckuva time getting a Visa until I'd established a credit history. Then again, maybe that was a good thing as I don't rely on credit cards much now.
Don't get me wrong. I like nice things as much as the next gal. But once I was living off my own earnings, it was amazing how much I realized I could do without. What I couldn't pay for with cash, I didn't need. My grandfather had lived by that credo, and I see how right he was. I feel fortunate to have married a man who doesn't need a lot of "stuff" to be happy.
Unfortunately, these days everything that's affordable seems to be made in China. I'm sure tons of folks like me would rather buy "Made in the USA," only it's hard to find. Honestly, I've had enough T-shirts that fall apart at the seams after one wearing to be willing to pay more for something that's domestically produced by skillful adults, not by children in sweat shops. Wouldn't it be lovely if more companies returned from overseas and got the manufacturing biz humming in this country again?
As kids, we didn't care about labels or impressing anyone with status symbols. The simplest things were the most fun, like catching fireflies on a warm summer night; running through the sprinkler in our bathing suits; finding clover and weaving it into a necklace; baking cookies in grandma's kitchen. I'm not sure when the "gotta have it" syndrome sets in or what causes it. Too bad there's not a vaccine to inoculate us against it.
I still think the best things in life are free, like taking walks in the park, chillin' on the porch swing, going to art festivals, holding hands with your honey, or singing your lungs out to Def Leppard. Oh, and how cool is the sound of thunder and rain from a good old-fashioned summer storm (but not the kind that spawns tornadoes or knocks down power lines!)?
I'd like to hear some of the simple things in your lives that you love to do. And, whatever they are, I hope you get to do them plenty over this extended holiday weekend. Happy Fourth of July to everyone!
P.S. Speaking of fun free things: The Book Belles are giving away a tote bag full of signed books. Contest ends July 15 so there's still time!