Want vs. need

What do we need? Really need? Think about it.

Most of us think we just absolutely must have a certain something that we see advertised or hear about. We don’t even remotely think about having it until we see someone else enjoying it. That is usually not need. That is simply want, from a thought planted in our brains. It is impulse buying.

We object to rough sheets on our beds. We want all the wrinkles out. Our rooms have to be vented just so-so or we cannot sleep. But there was a time when all a person needed to rest was to lie down on the ground. I shudder to think what our bones would feel like if we did that now.

I refuse to camp out and sleep on the ground. Although when I was a kid we did just that in the summer and it was cool and enjoyable. There was a time I could sleep anywhere. Parents would take kids to neighbors to play cards and when the kids got tired, they would lie down on the floor on pallets and be sound asleep in no time. The parents would carry them to the car and they (we) would never wake up until morning.

When our forefathers came out West in covered wagons, they felt fairly secure just sleeping in those covered wagons or on a bedroll on the ground. All their possessions were right there with them. It took a lot of faith and prayer to be that bold to leave their comfortable homes to move west.

Pioneer needs were simple. Their food was whatever they could kill on the prairie, and whatever they could make from flour, beans, bacon and a few canned fruits brought from back East. They had simple basic needs, with no wants at all except to have a better life for their families.

The dug-outs that our grandparents lived in and my daddy was born in, provided protection from wild animals and some shelter from snow and cold wind, but gave little else in the way of comforts. Yet our ancestors were pleased to have even that much for homes. Their furnishings were hardly more than a bed, table, chair and stove. But the home was filled with happiness. If we could turn back time ... .

I’ve been asked if I think today’s young people will learn to manage financial problems and taxes facing our country. I truly believe our the youth of today will do OK. They will develop a pioneer spirit and get back to basics and realize that all the extras and possessions are not as important as the love and safety and security of a family together.

It is sad that over the years our basic requirements have grown to include things that at one time were unheard of, much less necessary. We all feel we must have the very latest gadget for communication and writing. A simple television is not enough. We need every contraption known to make an evening enjoyable. We have computers, automobiles, recreational vehicles, vacations, telephones of every size and description that takes pictures and do everything imaginable. We hardly know which toy to play with first.

Sometime I think it would be fun to try to live without all the creature comforts we now enjoy and see if we would appreciate life more if we had to work a little harder just to be warm and have a place to sleep and food to eat. It might be fun for a short time, but I’ll bet we would be glad when the time was up and we could go back to the things we are accustomed to.

“Need” is somewhat a state of mind and attitude. Some people think they must have it all, so they work two or three jobs to acquire things they have little time to enjoy. They work themselves into exhaustion to provide extras for their children and themselves, yet those material things do little to enrich their lives. It is too bad that we have allowed need to become greed.

There is nothing wrong with material things as long as we don’t become obsessed with having them. There is much more to life than just things. Friends, family, hobbies, the enjoyment of nature, simple gestures of kindness all mean more in the long run than just purchased items. The things we will remember for years are the things that happen, not the things we have.

When friends comment about my “Food for Thought” column, it is usually that they remember the old days like I do. We were raised with different values and goals than many now. We had no money but it didn’t matter. We had what we needed to survive and appreciate life. Few people were cold or hungry back then but we certainly didn’t have many, if any, extras. But we were happy and grew up with an appreciation of life, and knew what was important then and now. I am grateful for my upbringing and for the sacrifices my parents made for us to be educated and have successful lives. We all worked together to take care of our needs. We didn’t ask for the world, but we got it anyway.

We learned the difference between need and greed.

I know this has been a difficult summer with the pandemic and all, and many have lost their ways of making a living for their families. It must be traumatic to see their savings dwindle to almost nothing, and be forced to home school, but what doesn’t kill us will make us strong. We will survive and be the better for it. We will learn to appreciate the basics of life and be content with what we need instead of just what we want. We will survive. God will provide, so give thanks. It has always amazed me how Grandma and Mother could take a few staples from the cellar or pantry and come up with the most delicious meals. No matter how fancy or plain, it was prepared with love and grace. They truly enjoyed cooking. I do too because of them.

Butterscotch Bars

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

2 cups brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped pecans

Beat butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients that are sifted together. Stir in nuts. Spread in a 13x9-inch pan. Bake in 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes until browned. Cool and cut in bars.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.

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Goodrich writes a weekly column for the Enid News & Eagle​. Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.

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