Christ-Like Minimalism

Reminiscing: Happier with Less

I grew up on a farm. No, wait, allow me to back up even further.

My great, great grandfather purchased an acreage in South Dakota where he raised his family in the early 1900s. Eventually this property was handed down to my father’s dad. In other words, my father grew up on this farm. He was the baby of the family–the eighth of eight.

Now my dad’s father was a tinkerer, smart with machines, and generous with everyone. Unfortunately, he was not clever with finances, and the family soon went into debt, by purchasing new-fangled tractors and equipment and snow mobiles and accessories… Even though they had the largest chicken operation in the state, which was housed in a most beautiful 3-story barn, they were sliding into ruin.

Then it happened. The State came, with police and trucks, and literally began hauling equipment and things away. The farm was forfeit, lost. As a young man, my father watched it all with wide eyes. His parents were forced to move off the family farm and into a trailer house in the nearest small town. It was earth-shattering and heartbreaking. My father would inherit nothing.

My Grandparents, who lost the family farm

Naturally it was a very difficult thing for the whole family, but fortunately, it did not tear the family apart. Only, my father vowed to never make the same mistakes as his father and thereafter became a very neat and organized man, for he just purchased his own new farm complete with a trailer house, a small shed, and and an old hog house.

This is the original little trailer house, situated on a new farm, that my parents bought in 1981. Humble beginnings, no?

That was a long introduction, and perhaps not getting to my point quickly enough. For why am I bothering with this?

Combining beans with my Dad and my sister. I’m on the left.

I want to illustrate that ever since I was a little girl, I was taught to be very careful with things, or possessions. I was taught that everything must be neat and clean and paid for. There was to be no chaos or clutter anywhere, and unused items were to be disposed of.

And I was happier for it. I wasn’t bogged down with an excessive closet of clothes or with a jumble of shoes on the floor. My car, when I got one, was expected to be spotless, otherwise I wasn’t mature enough to have one.

Mowing the lawn with Dad.

I was formed, in a way, for a minimalist life, and it has never been difficult for me to live with less.

This is not to say, however, that I’m the standard of perfection. Far from it. I have my faults and eccentricities. (I do own two sets of china that I have no intention of parting with. Not to mention my hundreds of books…) But I do try.

For example, earlier this year during Lent, I gave up lipstick because I didn’t want to be attached to it. I wanted to live more simply, and I’ve got to say, it was a relief to me and I’ve never gone back.

Currently I’m wondering how I can simplify my wardrobe. You know I’ve got about 5 everyday skirts for both a cold season and a warm season. But I’m wondering, is it all necessary? Since I like all my skirts to hit mid-calf anyway, why not just get rid of the “warm season” skirts? Ah, well, we’ll see.

I can say one thing, however, I have never regretted giving anything away, whether it be an unused end table or an extra kitchen utensil.

Less is better. (Unless, of course we’re talking about books!)

Carefree swimming with my cousins. I’m sitting in the pool up front.

Lastly…

I’ve been asked quite a bit about both Fr. Altman and Pope Francis’s latest Motu Proprio. If you’re interested, do check out Dr. Taylor Marshall on both accounts. I’ll link them HERE and HERE respectively.

If you’d like more about the implications for TLMers, Cameron O’Hearn interviews one of my favorite theologians, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski HERE.

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