By Margaret Morganroth Gullette
But over time, I noticed that as I told the stories, they had lost the tinge of being amusing foibles. They began to edge toward being about thrift . Conspicuous consumption had seemed cruelly elite during the Great Depression, which marked both my parents, though in opposite ways.
Likewise, after the Great Recession of 2008, waste of any kind began to seem excessive, ostentatious, brutal and stupid. Saving became not a mere trend, but a value and a virtue of those who could manage it. The planet cannot take the rapid, steady diminution of its resources forever.
How I see my father’s frugal habits now
Plenty of people are replicating some of my dad’s frugal habits. Anyone with any sense now wants to save electricity, because so much of it still comes from fossil fuels. Everyone goes around smoothing down the dimmers.
I’ve come to see differently what I once thought of as my father’s eccentricities. I’ve come closer to him in spirit.
Since he gave me his jars, my own basement shop has held his nail collection and I draw on the legacy.
Just recently, when I mentioned the soap ends, a close friend said with a smile that was only slightly embarrassed: “How do you do that?”
“Oh, it’s quick and easy,” I began. “You get a few slivers wet and soft and slimy and you crush them and press them and rub them around until they hold together. It feels so nice.”
Margaret Morganroth Gullette, a resident scholar in Women’s Studies at Brandeis University, is the author of the prizewinning book, “Ending Ageism, or How Not to Shoot Old People.” Her essays are often cited as notable in Best American Essays, most recently in 2018, 2016 and 2015.
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