Well, yeah, kind of. We all know love, family, rainbows and sunshine are free, but you can't dine on that. My venture into a building and growing a "money saving" vegetable garden this spring sure wasn't free. In fact, I think the cost per tomato is going to come out at about $5 apiece this year. But can you really put a price tag on the smile of the noodle getting to eat the first of the harvest? I don't think so.
In case you were wondering, our family's crisis has improved a bit over the last year and a half, but it isn't over yet. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, though, and I'm thrilled at just the idea of resuming some sense of normalcy - hopefully very soon. I don't know what the long-term effects of living below the poverty line, teetering on the brink of foreclosure, enduring insane levels of stress and so much more will be on our family, but I do know that we have managed to keep our relationships healthy, have not caved on our core beliefs and have learned to be scrappy. Seriously scrappy.
Last Friday, Sweetwonderfulmama, her boys, the noodle and I donned cow spots and ears and were rewarded with free meals from Chick-fil-A. Free! Anything we wanted! It's no French Laundry, but a free lunch is a free lunch. Sometime later today, we're heading out to 7-Eleven for free slurpees in honor of the date being 7/11. And next month for Mac's birthday we'll be trying to squeeze in as many free meals and treats we can since I signed our whole family up for every "birthday club" out there. It's mostly junk food, but, hey, our meals have been about 90% vegetarian since Mac started working for our farm CSA and getting his pick of free fruits and vegetables every week. Maybe a little saturated fat is just what we need.
I once shied away from using coupons at the grocery store and was hugely brand-loyal. Now I wonder how I could have been so naive. I mean, it really paints a picture of how perfectly willing I was to throw away money. Those days are over. Maybe one day not too long from now, Mac will be running his own CPA firm or successfully bridging the gap between financial services and charitable giving for clients, but he's still going to come home to a dinner made from what was the best deal at the grocery store that week.
It's a new era for our family. It took a little searching, but we discovered that we can do a whole lot with just a little. Oh, and there's nothing wrong with love, family, rainbows and sunshine, but a free watermelon slurpee makes my heart skip a beat!