Over the past several years I have had to find ever more inventive ways to become ever more frugal. Mind you, I have never been one to let money burn a hole in my pocket, but turning the heat down in the winter went to hardly ever turning it on; if only to avoid frozen pipes and the like. However, there does come a point when cutting back on spending begins to feel like a more extreme deprivation of little things that make one’s life worth living. When that point is reached, you really need to give yourself a little break and loosen the purse strings, if only for a short time.
As I have begun to regain my financial footing, the need to “live a little” has become not as worrisome as it was just last year. In fact, buying a few less basic items in the supermarket in exchange for some things that might cost more, but would greatly enhance mealtime were purchased more frequently. That being said, those occasions usually happened when I started entertaining again.
Being frugal to the point of excess might be acceptable when it is dinner for one, but to play host and expect others to also partake in your self-inflicted poverty would be considered absurd, especially when you extended an invitation to play host. Living on an island, as I do, you need to make the most of off island excursions and stock up at Trader Joe’s and other such stores; you just cannot find certain items on the rock.
Such was the case several times over the past year or so; every time I had an opportunity to fill my pantry with select morsels, I carefully did so. The fact that I happened to invite people over after that was no mere coincidence, rather thoughtfully planned. I must emphasize the planning aspect for the simple reason that my visiting guests are in fact visiting the island, so it adds a twist to playing host in that they are usually staying for longer than an evening, but rather an extended stay.
The ability to play host can make a simple meal into an event, given the proper perspective and vision. Many gatherings during the off season are potluck affairs here on Martha’s Vineyard. When guests are coming to visit from off island, they might bring a few items that travel well, but seldom do they bring “hot dish”. That leaves it to the host to prepare something decent, if not memorable. I have always taken a certain pride in being able to cook for my guests, but having a stocked pantry always makes the task a little easier.
There are few things in life that enrich one’s life more than good food and friends. The fact that it might take little extra money to make the meals and visits a little more memorable has, until quite recently, been sorely lacking in my life. The ability to turn a visit into a “holiday” for guests make the bleak days of winter a great deal more tolerable. If I can look past the debt I still owe for a few days to enjoy the company of friends, then I have, in fact, made it a holiday worth celebrating; essentially a holiday from debt.