Nov 8, 2012

Lessons of frugality from my childhood (part 2)

(This is the continuation of my previous post.)


Until I was 13 we lived in an adobe house built by my great-grandparents in the late 40s (or early 50s), and which was slightly renovated by my parents - the house was in good condition, and so they just had to finish and paint the walls. This house had two floors – the ground floor served as a wine cellar for my grandfather, and the first floor was our home. As a side note, I live in a Portuguese region very well known for its good wine (‘vinho da Bairrada’), even thought I haven’t yet learned to appreciate wine :P And my grandfather produced wine to sell.

So, fortunately we never had to pay rent, and my parents were able to save money to build our own house. I believe I can say our first home was considerably small. Still, it was just enough for our family of 5. And I have such wonderful memories associated with this house… One curious thing is that when I dream (and I dream a lot - in vivid colors!) I’m almost always still living in this first house (even though I left it when I was 13) and I can picture all its rooms as if I just left it yesterday… My pink room with two pine beds (mine and my sister's), the small living room with the brown sofas, the blue kitchen…

After we left this house, it has served as the first home to my uncle and its family (until he built his own house), and it is now (after some rehabilitation) my grandparents home. So, still the same great principle of sharing resources within the family… :)


I’m very grateful for the fact that, in the 80s, Portuguese TV had only two (public) channels, one of which was advertising-free and more or less cultural, and that there was no cable TV. So, I didn't watch a lot of TV. Of course, I had my favorite children shows which I wouldn't miss (like this lovely one, which I recently found on YouTube – I confess, almost cried when I found it!) , but we didn't spend much time in front of the TV.


As I told in a previous post, buying books was not even an option. But I so eagerly loved to read, that I read a significant percentage of the books the mobile library brought to our village. And later, I would still rely on library books to satisfy my love for reading. And because my family knew about this passion, books were always welcome Christmas gifts ;)


One wonderful thing about children is that they see the world as a huge playground, and are always inventing new ways of having fun! So, not having many toys was never a problem. To begin with, my grandparents’ huge yard was like an adventure land – so many trees to climb or lay beneath, a small stream of water to play in, a straw hut to explore, an old house to play scary games, etc, etc. Wow. I just love having grown up in the country!

And within the house I remember playing lots of make believe games with my sister and cousins – and really, all that we needed was a little bit of imagination. I also remember drawing and writing stories, just for the fun of it :)


I guess I could go on and keep exploring the wonderful details of a simple childhood. But I believe you get the point.  Of course, this story is told through the eyes of the child that I used to be. I know my parents had their worries, but I also know that they, too, regard this as a wonderful time of our lives, independently of the money struggles.

I guess what I would like to take from this reflection is that with our basic needs met, and stripped of the materialistic expectations and demands our society so fiercely places upon us - and that we unthinkingly take as our own - , and with the openness and wondering eyes of a child, life can be beautiful and peaceful and lovely – and, of course, full of happy moments... :)


  1. This is pretty much the most beautiful story ever.

  2. How beautiful! What lovely stories, thank you for sharing :). I was just recently sent photos of myself and my Grandma as a little girl and the memories are flooding in. I love to revisit old photos.

    Morgan @ PepperDesignBlog

    1. Hi Morgan,
      Thank you for stopping by :) I'm happy you enjoyed the stories. I had a wonderful time remembering! And I also love revisiting old photos :)