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Physical possession and wealth are not happiness. The richest people you will ever meet in your life might be able to rub two nickels together, yet they are happier than anyone you’ve ever met.
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Growing up poor, my father used to say to us kids that he was the richest man in the world because he had us in his life. As a young child, I couldn’t understand what I thought were the delusions of my father.
We were poor, and I envied my neighbors for their wealth. They had brand name sneakers, and I had “skipbos.” They had all the latest fashion, and I had hand-me-down clothes from my cousin who was nine years older than me. They had cool Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers, I had a black and white composition notepad and some colored folders to keep my school assignment organized.
As I grew older, I began to realize what my father meant. I’d see how other families lived and how they behaved toward each other; it wasn’t the same. Being poor meant our family did more things together. We grew a huge vegetable garden, and we each had jobs in it. We cut our own firewood. We spent hours in the kitchen, baking bread, canning fruits and vegetables, and learning the secrets of whole food living. During the winter, we spent hours indoors putting together jigsaw puzzles, reading aloud to each other, and crafting.
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We’d all gather together for our dinner and spend time as a family group. It was sacred to us, and we respected the ritual. Over supper, we discussed our days and shared a lot of laughter. I remember these days as some of the fondest of my memories. The things I’ve acquired over time amount to nothing when I compare memories I made with my family. That is the meaning of life. Collect moments, not things.