Thursday, November 6, 2008

Good Friends, Old Times, Midnight Frapps

So maybe it wasn't midnight.
But it was about 10:30 p.m. on Halloween night when Christie and I had Frappucino's and attempted to solve the world's problems. (They were a nice treat from her husband Jamie, particularly since he drove the 10 miles from their slightly rural subdivision to go the nearest town to buy them for us.)

Starbuck's in hand, the discussion began. Our topic -- middle class Americans, what it means to be wealthy, and how living a frugal lifestyle does not equate to poverty.

(The children were there...playing with Moon Sand and creating a fort.)

Please keep in mind that neither of us is wealthy, and by the same token, neither of us is poor.

At different times in our lives, we have both traded in more non-frugal living lifestyles for the benefit of our families.

Our definition of frugal does not equal poor. We do realize that for some people it does. Again, our definition of frugal does not equal poor.

For us, living a frugal lifestyle has included coupon clipping, cooking from scratch, and giving homemade presents. It means we think hard about making purchases. It means we consistently assess our wants and needs. It means we are honest and fair with ourselves about our family's consumerism.

The advantages to this lifestyle are the memories we've created with our families in the kitchen, having children who understand that life is not always about immediate gratification, and having the opportunity to be extra creative when giving gifts so the receiver feels just as special as he or she would if we spent $1,000,000.

The times of frugal necessity also serve a purpose. Again, frugality does not equal poor. At the times in my life when I have felt like a "baller," I have also realized that monetary affluence means nothing if you are not happy.

Three years ago, I drove a Land Rover and Mr. X drove a Volvo. We lived in a big house and loved to host and attend fancy dinner parties. We especially got a kick out of having the most entertaining kids' birthday parties on the block.

Was I happy? No. Was he happy? Probably not. Would I rather have dinner now with people who know and understand me for who I am -- not for what they perceive my bank account to be? Yes.

Do I understand that true friendship does not require me to prove myself in social circles that I sometimes consider shallow, privileged, and self-serving? Most definitely.

And because of that, I'll take my midnight frapp over a fancy dinner any day! :)

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