My parents and my in-laws were children of the Great Depression.
My father-in-law, mother-in-law, mother and father were born in 1915, 1916, 1917, and 1918, respectively.
They were in their early teens in 1929, during the Crash.
My mother was the daughter of a widowed, single Mom who worked for a boss who was cruel to her, but she knew she could not give up her job.
My mother-in-law watched her parents lose everything after the Crash.
My father-in-law gave up on his hopes for college to help support his parents.
My father lost his Mom to suicide when he was 14, three years after the Crash.
What Did Your Parents Do Because of the Great Depression?
Packing up my mother-in-law’s house, after we lost her last February, I ran across red plastic Christmas plates in the dining room sideboard, next to the platters brought out only for large, holiday meals.
And, bags of paper Christmas napkins.
Every year, for more than 20 years, my mother and father came to my in-laws’ for Christmas dinner.
After my father died, I tried to be sensitive and give my mother a chance to make her own plans at Christmas.
“You don’t want me to come?”
“No, of course I want you to come. I just didn’t know if you wanted to keep coming.”
She continued to join us until she moved to Oklahoma, to be near the only remaining relative of her generation, her sister-in-law.
Every year, as her contribution, my mother brought a complete set of paper and plastic table settings – plates, cups, napkins.
She didn’t want my mother-in-law to have to wash all those dishes.
She intended that the dishes would be thrown away after dinner.
Every year, my mother-in-law left her beautiful china in the cabinet and used my mother’s offering.
Then, she washed the plastic dishes and saved them for the next year.
When I packed up my mother-in-law’s things, I kept the platters.
I did not keep the plastic dishes.
This year, we won’t be at my in-laws’ for Christmas.
We cannot bear to wake up on Christmas morning in their house when they are gone.
But, I have the memories.
It’s time to make new memories.
What habits did your parents adopt from their frugal childhood?
Have they ever told you any stories about living through the Great Depression?
Did they make any life choices that were because of the Great Depression?
Get our free report, How to Leap the Generation Gap, as well as our daily blog posts for grandmothers by filling in the boxes below.
To you and helping your grandchildren understand life’s choices.
Carol Covin, Granny-Guru