On this blog, I make Babci sound like some kind of super granny. She is awesome that’s for sure, but there are some things about her simple living philosophy that make me go absolutely bananas. As I analyze why Babci would do some of the things that press my hot buttons, I try to understand why it is that she behaves a certain way. Today, I’m going to talk about how Babci’s total lack of materialism can get on my nerves.
Generally speaking, she has an easy come and easy go philosophy. She never pays much for the stuff she has, so she doesn’t have any kind of attachment whatsoever to those things.
Materialism: The Rug Example
If you’ve been reading First Gen for a while, you may remember this rug I scored at a yard sale for $10. It is a real oriental rug and has great coloring but smelled musty. After a couple of hours of baking soda, vinegar and steam cleaning, it was as good as new. I decided that it would go nicely in my mom’s new bedroom. It looked incredibly cute and I was still impressed at the great deal I got on this adorable wool rug.
Babci had issues with the rug from day 1. I put it a little too close to the door and the corner would sometimes roll up when she opened the door on it. A normal person would just move the rug over a little so the door doesn’t get stuck on it. What did babci do? She lopped off a hunk of the rug with scissors.
When I saw that she butchered the rug, I was livid. What kind of person destroys a perfectly good rug like that? Then a couple of weeks later, she decided she didn’t like it at all and tossed it on the back porch.
We were over there again this week gutting her bathroom and the rug reared it’s ugly head again. I had almost forgotten about it and my husband needed a scrap carpet to work in the basement with and my mom once again produced the rug. My blood started to boil again. Why did she have to ruin this rug if she wasn’t even planning on using it. She could have given it to someone. It was a nice wool rug, not some el cheapo walmart special. My husband decided it was too nice to use as scrap and he saved it from further abuse. We brought it home and put it in my office. You can’t really see the lopped off corner from the doorway now, so I may be able to get over it..that is until it starts unraveling because it’s missing it’s binding in one corner.
Why a Little Materialism Is Good
Babci doesn’t care about personal possessions full stop. She and my dead uncle were probably the least materialistic people I knew. The downside to this is just that: Babci doesn’t care about her personal possessions. She has no vested interest in keeping her furniture nice or her pots scratch free or her stuff without stains. So when I spent over $1000 refinishing her hardwood floors and she started raking metal chairs across them and putting big gouges in the floor, I had to step back and count to 10. I did have enough foresight to put those little sticky things on all the feet of the chairs, but these were the kitchen chairs that she put in the dining room and it didn’t phase her one bit that she was scratching up the floor. After a month, her floors looked worse than mine have after 10 years of use.
Just like most things in life, when you’re at the extreme end of the spectrum on anything, there are negative consequences. For me, that means I have to be okay with my mom not taking care of her stuff because she really doesn’t care about it at all. She is even the same way with her garden. She ripped out over 100 strawberry plants one year because she got mad that the chipmunks were eating them. If she couldn’t have them, neither could the chipmunks. Anything I give to her, I have to assume it’s not going to make it to the end of it’s useful life.
I realize it’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks so I just have to adjust my own expectations of what she will do with the things I give her. If it’ll make me mad that she wrecked something I spent money on, I should just not spend the money. And that’s why I think a little materialism is good. It’s good because you actually care enough to take care of your possessions. Maybe you’ll even save a few bucks along the way because your stuff will last longer. So that’s my little gift to the readers today. Don’t feel guilty that you enjoy and like the things you have. It is that attachment that allows you to value and rank your possessions. Placing no value on your possessions is almost as bad as valuing all of them equally (aka Hoarding).
What do you think of materialism? Do you know people who don’t take care of their stuff. What’s your take on it?