I began this blog in 2013. Almost a decade ago. Over the years, it has been many things, a catch-all of priorities in my life: home education, neurodivergence, permaculture. But in the beginning, it was called Frugal Fam. And its purpose was to share my knowledge of homemaking with others so that they could thrive in tough times. It featured simple activities that…
- Were cheap or money-saving
- Would foster family time
- Were good for the environment.
A lot has changed in the past nine years. For me and my family. And in this world. I have divorced, met and married someone new, moved from London to Swansea, and become Granny T. @PanKwake has grown from a toddler into an amazing young woman. I have transitioned from a working parent to a single mother to a newlywed and now to my crone or WyseWoman years. Likewise, our global family has endured pestilence, economic upheaval, and now war.
As I grow into that WyseWoman (a journey that is not finished yet and is chronicled in Tara’s Musings), I am convinced that now more than ever we need to return to those values upon which this blog was founded. But the sad truth is that we have become a greedy, fast-food, consumer society. We no longer have any sense of place or community. And many Millenials and Gen Z lack even the most basic homemaking skills, such as cooking, cleaning, sewing, and DIY.
It is my mission and purpose on this planet and in these times to share not just my knowledge but that of another generation, the one that some called The Greatest Generation, those that survived the Great Depression and two World Wars. Women, true Southern Magnolias, whose strong spirit and ingenuity saw their families through those tough times. Never forget that their blood flows in our veins.
Unfortunately, many of the younger generations never knew their grandmothers or great-grandmothers as I did. They never heard the stories of their struggles as they learned the vital survival skills of growing your own food, canning, crocheting, sewing, or foraging. They were not brought up in a multi-generational community where those life skills were passed down from the elder to the young.
I was. I was raised primarily by my great-grandmother whom I called Nanny. She was a formidable woman. She was a working mother and a young widow. She bore three children and buried one. She lost her husband to cancer when her children were still young (my grandmother was not yet a teen). She raised not just her children, but her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was a true matriarch of our family, the glue that bound us together. And her loss tore us apart.
But I was raised not just by Nanny, but by a whole community of women elders. From Miss McCall, the oldest among them, who I picked crab apples for and heard stories of her young son who died in a fireworks accident. To Miss Ethel, our closest neighbor, and a ‘modern’ woman. Aunt Mildred with whom I shared the sorrow of my namesake’s death, who taught me the importance of setting a table, and whose scraps made my Barbies among the best dressed. Mama Tattley, who taught me to crochet and that tea could be served hot as well as iced. And others…
In this blog, you will hear their stories as well as my own. You’ll learn essential homemaking skills that will help your family to thrive in these challenging times. Because I think those people got it wrong. Theirs was not The Greatest Generation. As much as I love and respect those women, their Southern hospitality had a darker side. It never extended to those who were different: ‘foreigners,’ homosexuals, and a racial epithet that I hate was all too common.
I believe we can do better. We can learn their thrifty lifestyle. We can create our own communities, virtual and IRL. While bringing to this new world, the acceptance and inclusion that is a hallmark of Gen Z. And we can share all of that with our own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Yes, I do believe that the world as we knew it is over, or at least coming to an end. But that is not a bad thing. It was a world built upon greed, consumption, intolerance, and domination (usually rich, white men) over others. This generation has the unique opportunity to shape what is to come. Yes, there are challenges: Climat Catastrophe, mass extinctions, racism, misogyny, and others. But we can do better than they did. We can leave a legacy to future generations of humans and non-humans alike.
But that won’t be easy. As a doula, I know that the Transition phase right before you start to push is usually the most intense. I believe that we are living through that Transition phase of this planet and our society. As I tell those new mothers, ‘you can do this.’ And we have to. The type of world we leave is in our hands.
So, in the weeks, months, and years ahead, I’m returning to my roots. The roots of this blog in money, time, and planet saving tips. But also my roots in Drayton, South Carolina and those Southern Magnolias who raised me. But with a modern twist because there are challenges we face that they could have never imagined.
It was easy for three generations to live in a two-bedroom house because we had far fewer possessions. Of course, they had friends and neighbors from whom they could borrow a cup of sugar. They sat on their front porch and chatted instead of their phones. A tablet was something you took for what ailed you.
The truth is that humans are pack animals. We need one another. We thrive in tribes and community. Many of the modern ailments such as depression are a result of the loss of that connection to one another and the land upon which we live. But we can have both. We can do better.
I have a friend who hosts not one but several Facebook groups supporting mothers. And that’s great. But we also need those cups of sugar, hugs that are more than emojis, shoulders to cry on, or to share our laughter with. Our challenge is to negotiate all those options and create a better world for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I believe we can do it. I believe that Millenials and Gen Z can be the start of a new and better world…
So, I’m reaching out to this internet community to spread that message wherever it will go. But I’m also sinking my roots into my local community. Right here in Swansea, Wales. Where this will take us, I’m not sure. But I look forward to the journey and hope you’ll join me.