Beers and Budgets

My mother-in-law always said she never knew anyone who could stretch a dollar like I could.  I considered this quite a compliment, as there were always less-than-busy months when a small business had to survive regardless of the revenue; so, I learned to budget in percentages and dollars. At one time, I had three – count them, THREE – budgets,  any one of which I could implement on the spot when money was tighter than originally projected from last year’s sales for that week.

Of course, those were the days when subtle hints arose and I’d learned to discern what kind of day we’d had by the brand of beer that came walking through the door that evening.  Attached to the repairman’s hand was my household’s economic indicator: a six-pack of bottled Michelob meant that we sold a vacuum; a half dozen cans of Coors told me we’d held our own; on the appearance of Regal Select, I went into squirrel mode and once again started storing extra bottles of wine or cans of beans…no wonder one of my favorite musicals during those years was Paint Your Wagon…we were living on an ever-shifting, solid-state economy; I could honestly say it was riveting!  Rivets had replaced the Phillip screws on most new appliances…imports were cheap; replacing one’s wedding toaster cost less than repairing the original.  Apples now compared to oranges and Jimmy was Mr. President…enough was enough.  I could only stretch my imaginative budgeting and squirreling talents just so far…so, I did what few young business owners would do.

I decided to give up peanut butter.  Besides, my Georgia-born uncle had assured me that I’d seen more dirt under my nails as a city slicker than the peanut farmer EVER had; that was good enough for me.  So, I stuck to my principles. This was one of my first, formal protests and during those four years, I never once waivered; I was seriously engaged.

Flash forward more than thirty years later.

Peanut butter has long ago returned to my pantry; and like most of the “underemployed”, we have been cutting back the last several months, snipping “wants” from “necessities” and redefining La Dolce Vita without TV, cable, American Idol or any other current culture.

Black Friday? Cyber Monday?  I respectfully beg to differ with the media’s reported American love affair for anything wide screen, electric, or state of the art with SALE plastered all over it.  While news reports enthrall us with our neighbors’ relentless ability to rush out and SPEND! SPEND! SPEND! some of us have chosen instead to renew an old habit and pen another household budget –  after many years experience, I have successfully whittled it down to one workable version with a module for flexibility…me.

Hence, I’ve come up with an economically-sensitive alternative to celebrating the holidays this year.  I can DO this! When one can’t afford a traditional Twelve Days of Christmas glee, why not just stretch the creativity a bit, lower the expectations and celebrate anyway? I can keep a festive attitude!

Besides, there are many reasons to be thankful; some of our East Coast citizens didn’t just give up TV; they lost their homes.  For others within our circles, this will be the first Christmas without a loved one; and the last Christmas shared with an ailing parent.  I’ve been there. I remember.

Having assessed our many blessings, I respectfully submit this touch of merriment In The Spirit of The Reason for The Season!

Twelve Days at Frog Haven

(With additional harmonizing parts in parenthesis)

On the twelfth day of Christmas, My Rogue reminded me:

Twelve prescriptions need refilling

Eleven ways with chicken

Ten tree lights aren’t willing (#$%$#%$#%)

Nine pizza coupons!??!?

Eight rolls of toweling

Seven legs ain’t “finger-lickin”

Six cans of crab and clams

Five asparagus spears…

Four cans of low-salt Spam

Three Neufchatel

Two more crackers left

Pass the tray…YES! I’ll have one more with lime!!!