Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Dixie Cup Mentality

I am going to clean out my fridge today. Pull out every last disgusting bit, spray the whole thing down, and start over-- putting back what's still good. I don't anticipate there being a lot of things to toss, as I do this once a month, but there will be a few. And every time I throw away food that was once perfectly good and has gone to waste, it's never without a tinge of good old fashioned 1920s guilt.

See, my mom's parents divorced when she was 8, leaving her to be raised primarily by her Grandma and Grandpa. Her mom was there, but in less of a traditional mom capacity; her heart and mind were broken, and she spent the rest of her life trying (never fully succeeding?) to repair the damage to both.

But anyway, her grandma. My great grandma. Now she lived to 95 (still living at home, mind you, mind sharp as a tack), so I knew her well too. She met my son, her great great grandson, and I treasure the picture of her holding him and laughing. But anyway, she was old. She lived during the Great Depression, so she knows a thing or two about poverty and making use of everything you have, and she passed this mentality on to my mother. My mom always found a way to make use of everything. It seemed to pain her to have to toss anything past its prime, and needless to say, my father (of a similar mindset) made sure we cleaned our plates.

So, it's guilt that has me reconsidering this "Dixie Cup" mentality, as my mom puts it. Use and toss... And they say we're in a depression nearing that great one-- so why aren't there bread lines and more homeless? Shoes made out of cardboard and rubber bands? I think it's either that we're not actually as bad off as all that or technology that's kept us from getting to that point. We are too distracted to really take in how awful things have gotten-- the internet, TV, movies, cell phones-- (and if we can afford these luxuries, again, we're not to the same point or we'd be in cardboard shoes talking into tin cans-- just sayin').

Either way, I plan to revel in the guilt, to purchase more frugally, to continue cooking like I have been-- eating out much less than we have before. And yes, applying for more full time work.

Have you noticed a difference in your area? Do you tend to throw a lot out?


  1. No matter our political differences, I'm interested to hear what you think about another thing lacking from our culture today: sacrifice. Our armed forces make sacrifices. And individual American citizens do really wonderful things with our extra money in the form of charity and volunteer work. But where - to go along with the frugality of the depression era - where are our victory gardens? Where are our movements to turn the thermostat up or down, to put on an extra blanket or wear shorts - not just to save money as individuals but to save our dwindling supplies of oil for future generations who will not be so lucky to have them? I try to be frugal and avoid waste, but I know I can do more. I don't preach to tell others that what they're doing is wrong (not yet, anyway), but I'm wondering what we can do about this. I agree that there is a dixie cup mentality - a 'single serving friend' or cup or toothbrush ideology, as Fight Club would put it. I feel blessed to read your blog and hear your ideas on the subject.

  2. Emily, I think the biggest problem with today's mentality is entitlement. People on welfare have cell phones. We feel "entitled" to run our AC, toss out clutter, avoid reusing anything. No matter our financial state, we continue to dig into debt because we "deserve" central air, new cars, paper plates, etc. I'm not saying these things are evil, but there is a LOT of waste going on. While I'm probably not as much of an environmentalist as you are, I do believe we were not put on this world to trash it. It is part of our God-given duty to take care of the world He has given us the best we can. We're not doing that now. I've changed my light bulbs; I don't have central air, but honestly, only because I can't afford, haha... but I do wish we had a garden in the backyard with strawberries and tomatoes. I'm thinking of picking my own produce this year and canning for the winter.

    I don't know, I think I just rambled. End of the day, I believe in personal responsibility and sacrifice-- I don't want government regulating this, but I think a call to remember our duty to this earth would be a good thing.

    It's always good to hear from you, Emily. How is Texas? Hot, I'm guessing!


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