A while back, I was talking on the phone to a friend of mine who lived in the neighborhood where I grew up. When he said he always thought our family was rich, I nearly fell out of my chair. I couldn’t believe it.
Having grown up wearing hand-me-downs and living in a more than 75-year-old-house with one bathroom no bigger than a broom closet, I can’t think of one thing about our house or our family that would lend that impression. But then again, he was one of nine kids, so maybe from his perspective we did have a lot more. With only three kids, so we certainly had more room.
However, the family across the street from us lived in a three-bedroom, one-bath 1950’s bungalow style orange brick house. They had four girls, some older and some younger than me, so I played at their house quite a bit.
Occasionally their mom would give us a snack — sometimes strawberries that she had grown in her garden or (cue choir of angels) Keebler Club crackers – or what I called Rich People Crackers. Crispy and buttery and oh so decadent! My mom bought store brand saltines. I grew up thinking that all you had to do to be rich was live in a brick house and buy Keebler Club crackers.
I left that neighborhood more than twenty-five years ago to seek my fortune. I landed in Texas in the era JR and excess. I spent my 20s and part of my 30s in pursuit of the expensive things I loved and that the advertisers wanted me to love. I attained most of things I chased and I enjoyed them thoroughly.
But now that I’m in my mid-40s and the mother of a two-year-old, those material things hold no allure for me anymore. And in many ways I even find them burdensome.
What I really enjoy in this season of my life is living in my brick house with my little family, going to the pantry and finding a box of Rich People Crackers. I guess I am rich.
What did you think it meant to be rich when you were growing up?