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The Importance of Dinner Together

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**This is the first post I ever wrote, even before my sister and I founded our blog.  This first appeared in May 2011 on***


I used to be a different person.  I made a lot of money.  A huge amount to amount that I used to dream of making back when I was working at the local ice cream shop in my small hometown.  An amount that showed me double digit paychecks (double digits in the thousands) for months in a row.  Eventually, I took a different position in the company, one with much better hours and lower pay...but still really good pay.

And like so many other people these days, that job ended.  Mine ended suddenly (although some of us on the front lines had seen the monster coming), as the 20+ year old company I worked for went under.  For me, I lost a job that I thought I'd have forever. I knew all along that I was extremely lucky to have such a great job (although there was a ton of hard work, long hours and clever politicking involved for me to keep that great job) but that luck was never more apparent than after I lost it.  And, as so many other people have also recently discovered, my great job is gone and it is never coming back.

The money was great.  That amount of money was what I had been talking about way back one night in high school, when my sister and I had been out for a walk around our neighborhood.  We both said that night that we were going to make sure that we would each make a lot of money once we got to the places we were going after high school.  We were tired of not being able to have more than what we good clothes, money to go out to dinner and to go on vacations.

I did finally start earning enough money to do all of those things, but luckily, I also saved a great deal.  I actually did not buy a lot of clothes or go on trips, although I do admit to spending foolishly at expensive restaurants.  I did enjoy buying as many outrageously- priced glasses of wine that my husband and I wanted, and feeling a bit of pride at the generous tip I was able to leave.

But here is what I miss the most:  buying whatever I want to at the grocery store.  I love cooking and baking.  I love trying new recipes.  I love making dinner for my family.  I can honestly say that THE BEST part about having money was being able to try any recipe I wanted to, even it called for an ingredient that cost $19.00 per ounce, and I would only use only one-quarter of an ounce before it went bad.  That is better to me than my big house with 3 porches on 2 acres and my formerly bulging savings accounts.  Honestly, it is.

So, a few days ago I'm at the supermarket with my six-year-old.  I had a strict budget of $20 cash in which to buy enough food for at least two nights' worth of dinners.  Instead of casually adding up my purchases in my head as I always used to do, I now have to write down the exact cost of each item and add it up (with tax) on my grocery list as I shop.  One item I put in my cart on this day was a pound of fresh spinach so that I could make a salad for my husband and me.  When we get to the dairy section, my precious six-year-old begs me to buy him a 4pack of yogurt.  I know I don't have enough money for it, but how can I say no when he's asking me for yogurt, instead of the usual candy or cookies?  I sigh and put the spinach back (actually I place it quickly down among the butter and eggs...I know, I know, I should put it back where it belongs, but did I mention I was also shopping that day with my eight-month-old baby too? )

When I'm in line to pay, I dig in my purse among the change for the one more dollar or so that I know I'll need.  I dig for it in my real Burberry purse, among my real Burberry wallet as I push my real Burberry scarf that is hanging down from my neck out of the way...all the Burberry bling purchased a few years ago at the flagship Burberry store in New York City.  I pay for that last $1.06 of my grocery bill in all nickels and dimes and pennies, no quarters.

I don't mourn the loss of a big savings account, or the money to buy designer things...I mourn the loss to buy the yogurt and the spinach.

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