Threads of character

 Use it up.

Wear it out.

Make it do.

Or do without.

They are so much a part of her childhood that these words were spoken at our wedding. Having referred to them recently made me realize that I knew little about their history.

They are a conservation motto from a time of war and have been referred to as the Four threads of the New England character. The phrases are derived from another adage, one line shorter, which was in use a decade earlier as a call for domestic thrift and economy.

Eat it up.

Wear it out.

Make it do.

New candles are as rare as hen’s teeth at the summer place, where we celebrate her Dad’s birthday. Decorative candles are used and then saved, to be lit the next year, and the next, until they have burned away.


9 thoughts on “Threads of character

  1. Thoughts I have often, especially when I have to visit electronics outlets. Those expensive (n terms of what it does to the earth to create them) gadgets, just tossed back to leach and poison that which should not. Hmmm–we have made no progress at all in so many ways, eh?

  2. Essential Yankee wisdom and economy. Such a philosophy is almost unheard of these days with so much relegated to trash and the landfill. We try to follow the old ways, but admit to being a bit less thrifty. Mary Beth takes the water she washes the lettuce with and pours it into the compost bin or waters a plant or two. When we don’t finish our drinking water, too warm or full of bubbles and foul-tasting, it goes into the watering can for house plants. I mentioned the compost. I still wear clothes from 20-30 years ago and inherited some of my father-in-law’s shirts, sweaters, fleece pullovers etc. We do the same with our bars of soap as Linda. No birthday candles needed here. We just exchange cards. There’s more but that’s enough.

  3. I’ve never heard either version of the saying, but I recognized the approach to life immediately. My grandparents could have said that, or my parents. They certainly lived it, and inculcated the values in me. Another tiny example: worn bars of soap, even slivers, always were kept to be combined for future use. I still do the same.

    And, yes: we kept the birthday candles. They went in the drawer between the refrigerator and the oven.

    • Yes … the soap ‘swisher’ is part of the kitchen in the same house where this image was recorded. I’m not sure anybody actually uses it to ‘swish’ but it’s there nonetheless. A vestige of another time.

  4. Looks like I could just reach in and grab that jar. The lighting is exquisite! I can relate to the sense in this old adage … the reduce, reuse, recycle of our time. Look forward to adding a few more candles to that jar very soon. This image should also be included in your art show! I am a real fan.

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