Growing up without much in way of material possessions

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Growing up we never had the best house, the best car, or the most money, but we were surrounded by people who loved us, took care of us and taught us things.

We also had a sense of valuing everything that we did have, by way of materials things, instilled in us and also how to make things that we wanted from almost nothing.

In fact, coming from Romany-Gypsy background, a house was not the initial residence of mine in the first place. It was caravan and tent. Though there were times that we lived in houses, often on farms, and other places, that were not the finest of palaces for sure. It did not matter, however, for material things, we were taught, did not make you happy, and neither money.

Having very little in my childhood probably has turned me into a pack rat ever since I have been settled as I tend to keep anything and everything that might be of use. I still don't worry too much as to those status symbols of society, that is to say a nice house and a car. The latter would be to be about as useful as teats on a boar, as I do not drive.

Having learned as a child to make things from almost nothing I have retained this mindset and look at everything that I find and almost everything that is regarded as trash with a view of reusing, repurposing and upcycling it.

Anything that has a chance of being repaired will be retained and tinkered with to get it going again and, as I don't drive and thus cycle, every abandoned bicycle that I come across – well almost – is taken home and used for rebuilding bicycles and often this is a case of out of three make one or thereabouts.

Growing up the way I did taught me to value things and to look after what I have. Thus I am not the greatest for getting the economy going. I try to make things last and also make my own things as much as I can, be those my own notebooks, my own pencil bins, reusing glass jars as drinking vessels, or whatever.

When I was a child clothes were at a premium as well as where shoes and we would wear clothes that were hand-me-downs and that had patches and repairs almost everywhere and they were worn until we had grown out of them and then they might still be used by younger siblings or cousins.

To make the clothes last even longer we would often end up – and this would be most of the summer – going sans clothes, especially the boys, and it definitely did us no harm. It was much easier and cheaper to wash us than our clothes.

© 2012