While initially, one would expect the current recession to have an adverse effect on the average family, I have found that my family has grown more creative, closer in our relationships, and wiser in our decisions as a result.
I've heard of studies that claim that television and video games “reduce” creativity and I believe that there may be some truth to that. Several years ago, in order to better manage what we consumed, my parents made the decision to get rid of our cable television. We still had videos to watch, but the television was on far less frequently than when we had cable. Suddenly, my sisters and I found ourselves with abundant time on our hands. We all read more and began to discover interests or talents that we otherwise might not have known we possessed. Although I did not enjoy the home economics course I took in high school, I realized that once I had the freedom to experiment, I loved cooking and baking. I also learned how to knit and have enjoyed making sweaters and scarves for family and friends. We encouraged friends to get rid of their cable subscription and they, too, have found themselves being more creative.
We also found that we became more creative – and more appreciative – with gifts. A few years ago, we watched an episode of “Little House on the Prairie” where the Ingalls family made Christmas gifts for each other. It looked like a lot of fun, and since we had little money to spend on gifts that year, we decided to make the gifts for each other. Our family enjoyed making the gifts so much that we made it a tradition, and have now branched into making birthday gifts as well. The realization that the things I received were the product of a great deal of time and effort caused me to value them much more than the store-bought gifts I had previously been given.
Recently, I learned how to sew and – both to apply for a scholarship, and because I could not afford to buy one – I undertook the task to sew my own prom dress. While it was challenging, I enjoyed constructing it and plan to sew other clothing in the future. If I had been able to buy a prom dress, I never would have discovered how much I love sewing.
Our family has also grown closer in our relationships – a fact which I attribute in part to the current recession. I have found that I respect my parents a lot more for their efforts to provide for the family. It is evident how much they enjoy, not only supplying our basic needs, but also meeting our “wants” as well. My sisters and I have become much more sensitive toward causing any guilt through wishes or requests that we know they cannot supply.
Since we do not watch much television, and cannot afford to buy video games, my family has spent much more time together. We have discovered that we all love to debate, and a family dinner might last for a few hours if we are debating an interesting topic. In addition, we have resurrected our old board and card games and have a great deal of fun challenging each other.
The greatest blessing of the current recession, however, has been in our decisions. I have learned that if I want something, I should work hard to earn the money to buy it, rather than buy it on credit and pay for it later. I have also found that I appreciate the item more and take better care of it because I understand how much time went into earning it. Through my parents, I have learned how to make do with little and not feel that I am lacking anything. They have taught me how to be frugal with resources such as water and electricity and I have become much more conscious of what I waste. In the future, when I begin to support myself, I intend to use these lessons to make wiser choices about spending and to cut down on my expenses so that I might help avoid another recession. I also plan to teach these lessons to my children.
While the current recession is by no means easy to go through, the good lessons and experiences far outweigh the bad. I firmly believe that the strength of the family and the creativity of the people are a large part of what makes America great, and perhaps, this recession will make America an even greater nation.