In the old days, a woman would bring a dowry with her into marriage. This was typically property or money or a combination of the two that was then given to her husband and, if you have ever read a Jane Austen novel, you’ll know it was commonly used as leverage to give her the best options for a good match.
In 1998, I brought a kind of ‘dowry’ into my own marriage in the form of property. It was a 20+ year old refrigerator that had belonged to my parents and my new husband was just as grateful for it as I was for the 10″ hand-me-down television that he contributed to our nuptials. It didn’t have a remote but we were blinded by love and didn’t really care.
10 years and two kids later, we moved into a new-to-us home and, having left a brand new refrigerator in the house we had just sold, we once again inherited an old one. It was original to the home which was built in 1992.
We could have replaced it, but it worked. And with many, many other projects needing our immediate attention, replacing a working refrigerator simply because it was an older model just wasn’t a priority. And years later, when we had the cabinets painted, the fridge was still working so we just had the paneling on the doors painted too.
But, inevitably, there came the day when food that was supposed to be just cold was frozen instead. And strange noises started coming from the general direction of that corner of the kitchen. It had a good run, but we knew it was time to finally say goodbye to this relic.
So, Robb and I decided that our Christmas gift to each other would be a brand new refrigerator.
And, I gotta tell ya, I had forgotten what it was like to have all of the food stay at the same temperature. And, this drawer freezer? You guys it is the BEST!
Between the increased storage, two ice makers, in-door water/ice system, glass shelves and a layout that is far more functional for our family, we feel like we have finally caught up to the new era.
My kids, who had grown up with the 1992 refrigerator must have said, “this feels so fancy!”, a dozen times within the first few days.
But, I’ll let you in on a little secret. There was apart of me that was sad to say goodbye to the relic. It was the last remaining appliance in our house that belonged to another time. Even the 20 year old washer and dryer set we purchased from Montgomery Ward had to be replaced last year.
Obviously I don’t miss the times I pulled out a bag of carrots only to discover them frozen.
But in this culture where we so easily dispose of the old, even when it’s not broken, to make way for the latest and greatest, I felt kind of proud of the fact that we waited until we absolutely had to replace that relic.
In fact, we still haven’t replaced the original counters in this kitchen but are hoping to this year as we are noticing more cracks appearing and will have saved enough money to be able to pay for them outright without accruing any debt.
With our social media feeds filled with a steady stream of seemingly ‘instant’ makeovers and the push to constantly upgrade to the most current trend, there’s just something to be said for acknowledging the fact that it’s ok to live with the relics. It’s ok to take your time, to wait until you have the money saved up and to make do with the old before you run out and purchase the new.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like we need to hear more voices talking about delayed gratification and making sensible decisions. We need to hear more about newlywed couples who are just scraping by and are content with their hand-me-downs. Who don’t have the money to buy their dream home right away complete with his and her closets, a craft room and a man cave.
So, I’ll keep being one of those voices. Someone who talks about her kitchen that wasn’t transformed in a week or a month or even a year.
But, instead, it was slowly brought up-to-date, one piece at a time, paid for in cash and appreciated all the more for it.
And, how about you? Do you have any relics in your home?
I’d love to hear about them!
Donna Marie says
We have a deep freezer that is 43 years old and we have a 19 year-old refrigerator that just conked out on us Saturday and a dryer that is 19 years old. The dishwasher and the over-the-stove microwave are 19 plus years old (they were here when we moved in) so we feed like we are living on “borrowed” time!!! Lol
Renee Dillman-Kuehl says
We have been married 40 years, and this last year all of the appliances that we had purchased brand new from Sears died, all with in a couple of months from each other. Microwave that was a gift is still going strong, but we are replacing it with one that will go over the stove. Money went a little farther back than, and so we had used all the money we received for our wedding for these new appliances-stove, frig., washer and dryer and our dishwasher was a gift for my college grad. from hubby. I agree saving and using used is ok!
At The Picket Fence says
Renee that is amazing that they lasted so long!! Kind of annoying that they all broke at once though, huh? LOL! They just don’t seem to make appliances and other things as solidly as they used to. Congrats on 40 years of marriage!
Naomi S says
For quite a few years my dishwasher didn’t work and I was told it would cost more to replace the pump or whatever the problems was, I forget, than to buy a new one. Well, I washed dishes by hand and used the dishwasher as a dish drainer for several years. Then, when my daughter and her two sons moved in with me about four years ago I decided the time had come to replace the dishwasher so I waited ’til I got my tax refund and bought a new one. Then, recently, my daughter decided that we needed to replace the 20-or so-year-old refrigerator that had been new when the kitchen was remodled and was falling apart in several places. So she bought the new frig with her Home Depot card, but paid it off in just a few months. I’m not thrilled with it being stainless steel but since she paid for it she picked what she tho’t was best for the money she could spend. So it’s fine.
Your point about living with what you have as long as you can and not buying new just for the sake of having something fashionable is a sound one. And I think learning to “make do” is a valuable lesson to learn as a young person. Let us all “make do” and save our pennies for new.
By the way, I think your kitchen is beautiful with the white cabinets and even with the “old” countertops.
At The Picket Fence says
Thank you so much Naomi!!
Sandy Mcallister says
Love to be able to save to be able to replace something. Very satisfying not to owe.
Donna Nance says
Love your kitchen! You are to be commended for using appliances until they conk out. I don’t think they make ’em like they used to. My husband is a retired home inspector and he would hear folks, even first time buyers, whine about not having all new stainless appliances and granite counters. Heaven forbid that there weren’t enough bathrooms so everyone in the household had their own. Your saving for new things and not having to have the latest are good life lessons for your kids. Well done!
I totally agree with this theory. Married fifty-two years in April and have kept out of debt except a mortgage, which we paid off very quickly. Built our own house and did as much work as we could ourselves. Slowly finished the house by paying cash and not borrowing. All these years later we still do not buy unless we can pay for it. Have kept my appliances til they quit. Have expressed this to our sons and daughters -in -laws as well. Very proud that our grandchildren are adults now and are trying to pay for things without borrowing too much. So sad when people look at a house and are upset that everything is not brand new. We were happy to have a nice kitchen and cupboards as well. It has become so trendy to do this now. We are fortunate to have six grandchildren, five adults, that listen to us.
This is such a wonderful post. Your children are learning a great lesson from you, a lesson that they will appreciate when they start their own homes.
So refreshing! I see so many people on blogs replacing things that really don’t need to be, what a waste especially at a time when we are encouraged to recycle and be green.
At The Picket Fence says
Thank you so much Shelly!
angie g says
I love this sentiment. We bought a small affordable house and have been enjoying it for 11 years now. It is getting close to paid off and still mostly meets our needs. Here is to enjoying the “character” in our lives and not always worrying about how pin worthy our lives look to others.
At The Picket Fence says
Congrats on almost having your house paid off Angie!! That is a HUGE accomplishment! I agree that we need to just focus on making wise choices and stop comparing ourselves to those we see online. Thanks so much for stopping by today!
Besides the obvious reason not to incur debt, there’s another reason to avoid “instant” makeovers and purchase everything new, including appliances. There’s something really lovely that our parents’ generation knew about – anticipation. In fact, there’s something really lovely about yearning while you’re waiting for the cash to buy your dream . As Americans, we’ve become so used to instant gratification in all areas of our lives, that we somehow believe we “deserve” to have everything RIGHT NOW!!! This way of thinking deprives us (at least it does me) of the joy that is felt when at last I can pay cash for something I’ve been longing for.
At The Picket Fence says
Lori you are 100% right!! The feeling of delayed gratification is lost to so many people nowadays and yet it is such an important part of life. Our son bought his first car recently and had worked hard and saved up cash (we matched his earnings) and did all of the research as well as all of the negotiating on his own and I can tell you that he appreciates that used car WAY more than if we had just gone out and bought one for him. It’s so character building!